The Order: 1886 review
The Order: 1886 is a PS4 exclusive third-person cinematic action-adventure video game developed by Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studio. The Order: 1886 puts you in control of Sir Galahad, a member of the fictional Order of Knights. The Order: 1886 takes place in an alternate-history version of Victorian London where engineering is far ahead of its time. The knights serve to protect the city from supernatural threats, which is a key plot device within the PS4 video game. On the surface, the world seems very rich and engaging. You’ll want to spend time in it and learn all about its politics, class system, and various threats that are endangering the city. We get only glimpses of this as we follow The Order: 1886’s extremely restrictive linear storyline.
The world of The Order: 1886 is brilliant, filled with detailed environments and a wonderful atmosphere. Unfortunately, as you play through The Order: 1886 you hardly get to experience any of that as it is broken into different types of segments: duck and cover gunplay, chase scenes, and “walking” segments where you are forced to travel through a predetermined sequence at a dreadfully slow pace. The biggest frustration with the walking segments is with the level of interactivity. The world is so detailed and interesting that you will want to spend time exploring, but instead, your are forced to follow a very specific track. The only items you can pick up and look at are marked with an ugly triangle button prompt, and even those are few and far between.
Story-wise The Order: 1886 starts interestingly enough, though not in the most original manner. Beginning a video game post-torture and having to slowly stagger your way out of a situation has been done so many times that it’s become a boring trope in video games. As you continue, you learn that Sir Galahad is faced with conflicting politics and begins to uncover a great secret in the city. The Order’s characters are all fairly likable, but seem largely one-dimensional, which could be a result of The Order: 1886 short length.
The Order: 1886 is largely a cinematic gameplay experience before it is a third-person shooter.
Shooting in the Order feels mechanical, making action sequences a lot less fun than they should be. There is a pretty large arsenal of weapons to choose from. The Order: 1886’s guns are all fairly different from one another, most of them are downright cool. For example, a thermite rifle shoots a magnesium cloud which is then ignited by an additional flare shot. This is great for crowd control or enemies hiding behind cover. Also, more traditional guns are decent, but sometimes bullets feel like they have low impact. As a result, enemies hardly flinch when they are hit, making you wonder if your shot was a hit or a miss. On top of this, gunplay segments often feel like chores to complete in order to get back to the Orders storytelling.
At times, there is melee combat, but only in the form of a Quick Time Events (QTE). This PS4 Exclusive is littered with them. Every combat scenario that has the potential to be unique and interesting turns out to just be a QTE. This goes for the final boss as well, making the climax a complete disappointment. Even worse is the fact that this battle is just a rehash of an earlier boss.
Virtually all gunplay parts in The Order: 1886 are duck and cover, but the style isn’t refined. You simply hide behind a wall picking off a seemingly endless wave of enemies. After shooting 10 or so enemies, it gets quite repetitive and boring, especially when the shooting isn’t all that exciting in the first place. On top of that, it is fairly difficult to die due to the game’s “blackwater” item. This is a potion that you drink via a QTE, allowing you to revive yourself after you’ve been gunned down in battle. Blackwater can also be used to enter a type of slow motion “bullet time” in which you select multiple enemies to target and easily kill somewhat similar to Max Payne and Dead To Rights. There are also scenes where your character must climb up walls and jump across rooftops in order to stay out of sight. These clunky platforming sections are highly scripted and leave virtually no freedom to you, the player. As a result, they can become very tedious, though at least the gorgeous city skyline is always visible in the background.
Graphics are certainly one of the strong points of The Order: 1886.
The Order: 1886 is absolutely one of the best looking games on the PS4. Character models look realistic in terms of physical design as well as their facial expressions and overall movement. Facial expressions, in general, are so difficult to portray in a videogame and The Order nails it. During cutscenes, micro expressions are portrayed realistically throughout a conversation. The way that characters interact together is believable and does not feel clunky. Voice acting is performed very well, with none of it feeling stiff. Coupled with great facial movements, on-screen characters are very engaging.
Outdoor scenes, the city skyline and landscape look absolutely gorgeous. You may want to take a few moments just to look around and take in the detail and architecture of surrounding buildings. Lighting and textures are extremely well done, making every environment look beautiful and unique. There’s a surprising amount of detail in the little things as well. When your character picks up a newspaper, there is an entire article to read if you so choose. However, it should be noted that the items that you can interact with are very limited, so don’t expect to spend much time exploring building interiors.
Sound effects really stand out, gunfire and voices are appropriately muffled through walls and in the distance. Each gun has a unique sound and action scenes are filled with explosions, bullet ricochet, and screaming of enemy soldiers. The soundtrack is also very well-done. The original orchestral score is mostly somber and tragic in tone though there are also bombastic percussive sections that complement action sequences well.
As stated before The Order: 1886 is very short, clocking in at roughly 7 hours from start to finish. Since a large percentage of this includes cutscenes, there really isn’t a whole lot of gameplay. That being said, there is hardly an incentive to go back and play through this PS4 game a second time. There are no alternate ways to play through the game, hardly anything to collect or explore, and its story isn’t one that you’ll likely want to revisit. Though The Order: 1886 does build a fair amount of momentum story-wise, it is ruined by the rushed and abrupt ending.
The Order: 1886 is by no means a terrible video game and it is completely worth a single playthrough, if only for its great technical achievements. Environment and character designs are stunning, the setting is interesting, and the aesthetic is fantastic but from a gameplay standpoint, it features way too much hand-holding and leaves a lot to be desired.
- Beautiful graphics and art direction.
- Excellent voice acting and cinematic cutscenes.
- Good variety of interesting weapons.
- Short game length with minimal replay value.
- Lackluster platforming and shooting mechanics.
- Restrictive gameplay with no player freedom.
- Too reliant on the cinematic approach.
- Overuse of Quick Time Events.