Most big budget video games attempt to capture many of the grandiose elements of real-life films through eye-popping visuals and exciting gameplay. While some games like Uncharted and Metal Gear Solid have succeeded in adapting this approach through fantastic uses of set pieces and masterful storytelling, many others have failed for a variety of reasons such as rushed production for the sake of quick profits. The Order 1886, a highly anticipated PS4 exclusive that hoped to blur the lines between films and games, is one of the more recent attempts that tried and failed.
The Pros: Storyline and Graphics
The Order 1886 takes place in a reimagined medieval London, England with a touch of steampunk where half-breed monsters in the form of one part man and one part animal roam the city’s alleyways and streets. In this version of history, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have discovered a substance called Blackwater, an elixir that heals wounds instantly. This is also the discovery that prompts the formation of a group of peacekeepers known as The Order.
The story follows a stoic man with a fancy mustache named Galahad and his fellow members of The Order as they hunt down monsters that wreak havoc in the world. The game utilizes its alternate history setting brilliantly, introducing real life figures like Nikola Tesla as a pivotal character. The story is arguably the best thing The Order 1886 has going for it, and the plot twists and side-stories sprinkled throughout help keep the game somewhat interesting.
In terms of graphics, The Order 1886 looks absolutely gorgeous. The world is full of visual nuance and attention to detail that helps set up the atmosphere quite nicely and the character models look nearly photorealistic. If this game ever gets an award, it would be for “The Most Beautiful Mustache on a Video Game Character” award. While the visuals are awe-inspiring, the game is presented in letterbox and dons a slight film grain effect at all times. It would have been nice for these effects to have been optional.
The Cons: Lackluster Gameplay and No Replay Value
Although visually The Order 1886 suggests a high quality product with plenty of innovation to go along with it, all of this changes the moment you start playing the game.
The developers played it incredibly safe by sticking to the standards. The gameplay is a simple third person, cover-based shooter that we’ve seen in many other similarly themed games for almost a decade. And while there’s nothing particularly broken about this format, the gameplay mechanics make the game feel unoriginal. The guns in the game are also by the book, with your usual pistol, rifle and machine gun as your go-to weapons. There are, however, a few unique weapons that produce some interesting effects. For example, there is a gun that shoots flare particles that ignite on impact and another that shoots lightning arcs. Unfortunately, both of these guns are rarely available for use.
To break up the monotony of shooting nameless soldiers, there are a handful of cutscenes with quick time events that keeps players on their toes. Unfortunately, nothing else gameplay-wise is all that interesting. And by the way, if the setting of The Order 1886 is supposed to be infested with monsters, then why are most of the enemies in the game human soldiers? Opportunity wasted, I’d say. Oh, and then there is the brevity of the game at about five to six hours. Hmm…
But wait, what about online multiplayer? There must be some extra mode or engaging feature of the game to maintain the interest of players, right? Nope. The Order 1886 lacks any noteworthy bonus modes or features, and the linear filmic style of the game means that there aren’t a whole lot of incentives to replay the game since the playthrough will feel exactly the same.
The Order 1886: Yay or nay?
This game is the epitome of a rental and it’s amazing to consider how confident the developers were to pass this as a full-priced, $60 game. The scope of the game’s setting is remarkable, but the journey itself is fairly forgettable. It’s not a bad game per se, just not one worth spending money on. Sadly, The Order 1886 introduces an engaging and unique world but does nothing else interesting to accommodate its potential.
Release Date: February 20, 2015
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Pros: Intriguing world with fantastic visuals
Cons: Uninspired gameplay and no online multiplayer option