Developers: Ready At Dawn, SCE Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: February 20th
The Order: 1886 is an amazing technological feat. A conscious set of choices made to present quite possibly the single best looking experience I have had the joy to participate in. For the most part, the story and the gameplay live up to that regard as well.
Sir Galahad is a staunch knight of high esteem playing by the rules of the Queen’s Order. He is not a detective, preferring the brutal tactic of force to combat his enemies. How can you blame him when the Lycans, whether elders or newly turned, he is tasked with tracking are not keen to answer? So when he sees a disturbance in the Order of Knights of the Round Table, it is understandable he does not know how to process it.
"There are bumps, there are cracks, but the foundation on which The Order: 1886 stands is fundamentally and conceptually solid."
As such, your adventure is coated by his nature as a soldier in the fight against the Lycans. Many trials taking place between your character and his enemies shift alongside that perception. Sir Galahad’s confusion is your own as you also attempt to figure out what disease is infecting the Queen’s Order. Britain’s Order. The world’s Order. In the end, you too might make the same decisions Sir Galahad makes, not like the game gives you much of an option.
Herein lies the most critical point of The Order: 1886. After many of the last several years of single player games being bloated with features such as tacked on multiplayer or benign choices with little impact, The Order: 1886 is a giant retro turn. A high budget title from the minds of an independent studio getting their first turn at such a thing. There are bumps, there are cracks, but the foundation on which The Order: 1886 stands is fundamentally and conceptually solid.
Ready At Dawn presents a bold and daring platform for themselves. This is the game. You are Sir Galahad. You have no say in any of his decisions except which gun you want to use or which area of the body you want to hit. There is no multiplayer. There are no branching patterns just a narrowly focused story. The game you receive is the game you get.
It never quite feels like you are the Dark Knight. You are not invincible. There are no fancy special moves you pull out to overtake your opponents.
So I pick up a double-barrelled pistol and I have my rifle ready. I’m under suppressing fire and I have been hit a couple times. I’m down on the ground and I’m quite possibly going to die, but I take a sip of blackwater and get myself back up. Engage blacksight. Everything slows down. Click. BAM. His kneecaps busted. Click. Bam. That’s an elbow. Reload. Cycle through enemies and take them down one by one until blacksight expires.
Many of the sequences in the game will play just like this. Playing without aim assist and on hard, I died on many an occasion trying to figure out various enemies. My trusty knights also on my side were as suppressed by fire as I was. It is 2 on dozens as rarely, if ever, does your tactical team of four stay altogether.
Shotgun runners and grenade throwers and other variable enemies added to a surprisingly tactical foe make this surprisingly more difficult than I anticipated. It never quite feels like you are the Dark Knight. You are not invincible. There are no fancy special moves you pull out to overtake your opponents. Sure, we are Knights of the Order and ultimately we do prevail. Mostly because I have a key advantage in Blackwater, the substance that has allowed me to live so long as to truly regret my decision.
This is the life I lead and many of my cohorts, like me, may regret the decision but we have pledged our lives to protect others. If someone may be taking an opportunity within our ranks to mislead or hurt innocents there is no place for them. I am not so principled to ignore reason, but there can be no reason to be a member of the Queen’s Knights and use that position to harm the rest.
This plate was only the first course in a seven-course meal. No matter how satisfied I was with that first bite, I was always going to want more.
These are the platforms by which you enter Sir Galahad’s story. A beautifully rendered accomplishment featuring a rather haunting musical score. However, it is still the first try in a line of possible attempts at making sure the tech and the story and the gameplay all align. Some simplistic battle designs are easily thwarted by use of proper angles. The Lycans, for all of their glory as your sworn enemy, receive a rather small amount of screen time.
This history of war between Lycans and The Order is a backdrop for much of the ongoing political drama where distinct social classes, and a touch of racial discord, can be uprooted from story as you learn of the sinister plots in place. There are many subtleties one will experience, but I am not so sure pitting the Lycans’ desires, wants, and needs as backdrop as opposed to the main theatrics in the game was such a good idea.
It is a misstep that left me wanting more of The Order: 1886 once it finished, but it was always going to be that way. There are not enough stories involving Lycan lore and the knights of the round table made in a digestible amount of time. In this way, The Order: 1886 delivers on its grand principles.
The characters are well realized. The visuals, acting, and animations are so, so well done. The gameplay segments range from bombastic excitement to easy pickings, making for a somewhat uneven experience there. The number of Lycan battles and encounters seems relatively parse as such because they are not the most difficult engagements. Given further thought, the story is obviously microscopic on a much wider and more varied world you only catch glimpses of, which may ultimately be far more interesting than what may have been started here.
It is that world I want to see more of. There is so much more that could be done within it, but what I played was every bit of a premium AAA experience I enjoyed for 10 hours. I was not underwhelmed by The Order: 1886, but, rather, I took a bite off of a very fancy plate. This plate was only the first course in a seven-course meal. No matter how satisfied I was with that first bite, I was always going to want more. This game could be 20 hours and packed to the brim with Lycan encounters of all kinds and if the story ended the same way, I would want the game to be able to continue on.
What is there is fulfilling. What is there is beautiful. What is there is a new story to add to the pantheon of gaming’s many different lore. What is there is worth your time.
The Order: 1886 is a fun, bleak story about what happens when all that you have known has been infiltrated with lies for not just one lifetime but many. The answer to how to play this game and to solve the game’s main conflict are one in the same: restore order as it should be, and then move on.
Things That Worked:
- Very high production values (score, animation, acting, framerate, graphics done exceptionally)
- Characters are well established
- Gunfights and movement feels fluid and fun
- Blacksight limitations make you feel vulnerable even at your most powerful
Things That Didn’t Work:
- Lycans feel like they get the short end of the stick as combatants
- Some repetitive gameplay scenes
More from GameSided
- Get Gaming/Video Games News, in the New FanSided Android App
- GameSided Is Moving To The Newly Revamped App Trigger
- Uncharted 4 Delayed Til May
- Heroes of the Storm North America Spring Regional Recap
- No Man’s Sky Pre-orders Up Thursday…Or Not?
Looking to write about video games? Join us at GameSided! Contact the editor to apply or if you have any inquiries/tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.