I’m going to start this by saying that I liked The Order: 1886.
I know that I might be in the minority with that statement, and saying that might cause some to scratch their heads and wonder what’s wrong with me. Since its release, heavy criticism has been heaped onto the game, and while some of it may have some merit, most of it doesn’t. For this review, my intent was not to judge the game based on any comparisons to other titles, but to let this one stand on its own. I want to discuss what the team at Ready at Dawn attempted to accomplish and not what was supposedly left out.
The Order: 1886 takes place in an alternate Victorian-era London. Sir Galahad is a member of an ancient order of knights, and along with your fellow knights (Percival, Igraine, and Marquis), you are tasked with protecting the world from “half-breeds,” or werewolves. The story branches out a bit after that, as Galahad and The Order soon have to deal with a rising rebellion in London and the conspiracies that rise from it and the Lycan threat. There’s not much in the way of collectibles, and there’s no side-quests or anything else to distract from the story, adding to the cinematic feel of the game.
As far as stories go, The Order: 1886 is admittedly nothing too special. During my playthrough, a lot of my questions were answered, but many more were raised by the end (this is most likely an attempt to have more material for the sequel). The story of the lycans, the order of knights, and the origin of this alternate version of history is something I would have loved to explore, but unfortunately did not get a chance to. This is especially true when speaking about your fellow knights. The characters introduced were interesting and it seemed as if there would be some intriguing moments between them (even a possible romantic history), but not much is ever answered in the way you would like.
The parts of alternate London that we do get to explore however are filled with very interesting ideas. Weapons (crafted by the one and only Nikola Tesla) are incredibly well thought out and detailed. Most of the guns have a Steampunk-esque vibe to them, and a couple have some pretty interesting features (the Thermite Rifle was especially fun to use). It’s a shame that we don’t get to explore more of the world, as it’s clear that the studio spent a ton of time developing it. I would welcome a sequel to the game, if only to get to experience more of the environment and see what the studio could do with another go.
The main draw of the game is obviously its visuals. It’s no surprise that the game is gorgeous; the lightning and atmosphere are a true testament to how powerful these current- generation systems can be. The team at Ready At Dawn strove for a cinematic feel to the game, and the 2:33 ratio gives it that. You really do feel as if you’re playing through a movie at certain points.
Often times the line between cutscene and gameplay is impossible to differentiate. For this reason, gameplay is a mix between third-person shooter and something akin to Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Quick Time Events are used throughout the game to dispatch enemies and complete various tasks. While some might have a problem with them, the QTEs did not bother me much until I fought the Lycans. Fighting them became an incredibly easy series of “dodge, dodge, QTE,” which took away from how intimidating they should have been.
After playing the game, it seems very clear what Ready at Dawn was trying to accomplish: to create a game that blends the style of “interactive movies” such as The Walking Dead with more conventional gameplay mechanics. Movement can be restrictive and the game often dictates at what pace you move. It also emphasizes mechanics (like QTEs) found in games of the interactive variety. Even with these restrictions, the game still bridges the gap between these two worlds pretty well, and manages to keep me wanting to come back for more.
When all is said and done, The Order: 1886 is a good, if flawed video game. The story, while not always answering questions and at times a bit dull, is still entertaining and leaves you with enough for a sequel. The gameplay is pretty generic as far as shooters go, but its mix of cinematic story telling and gameplay mechanics is a good enough starting point to raise the question of whether or not more developers will try this in the future.
This review of The Order: 1886 is based on a digital review copy for the PlayStation 4 provided by Ready At Dawn Studios.