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Review

The Order: 1886 Review

Something old, something new.

Set in Victorian London, with a main cast comprised of Arthurian Knights, The Order: 1886 has a rather unique setting, with werewolves running rampant and guns far more modern than they should be for the titular year. The staple alternate-universe airships are strewn across the skies, and the game isn’t afraid to mix up history lessons to its own advantage.

That setting comes to life wonderfully, with some of the most incredible visuals ever seen in a full game. There’s a letterbox effect to create the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, as you’d see in most movies, and it is certainly a movie-like experience, with uncanny and almost photorealistic facial features – which will throw you aback at points with their immense detail – and plenty of epic, cinematic moments.

Don’t let that take away from the gameplay though, The Order: 1886 is more Naughty Dog than it is Quantic Dream, with the gunplay being a particularly strong point of the game – we’ll get to that – and it being less QTE (quick-time event) heavy than you’d expect. It has about the same balance as God of War (Ready At Dawn previously worked on the PSP spin-offs for that series) in terms of gameplay to events.

“You’ll feel as though Ready At Dawn are channeling Naughty Dog.”

The quite vicious beginning of the game pulls some of the same tricks as Uncharted does, and you’ll feel as though Ready At Dawn are channeling Naughty Dog at points, but when it gets into things this is more of a squad-based game, with your character Sir Galahad teaming up with his fellow Knights of The Order. There’s Lady Igraine, who shows some great characterisation alongside a strong will; Sir Perceval, a wise and sturdy leader; and Marquis, who brings some French charm – and humour – to the squad.

These characters are hardly the most likeable bunch; The Order, as a regime, feels almost corrupt and archaic in its beliefs at points, but you’ll grow to love the group, particularly Sir Galahad who, despite not seeming that relatable at first, works as a great protagonist and driving force for the game with his own sensibilities and vices on show. It’s his story, after all, and while that really works at points, the game is often let down by focusing too much on the character rather than the world.

Particularly because it really is a beautifully crafted world, with intricate designs – both interior and exterior – which are fleshed out by items such as newspapers which can be examined. It feels real while blurring the lines between Victorian times, modern day, and the mythological with its dark atmosphere. It’s a refreshing setting which you’ll genuinely want to be in, and one that really works for the game as a whole, allowing the developers to place this out-of-time story and make it fit on this wonderful backdrop.

While this works for the game in its first and second acts, the game begins to stumble in the last few hours of gameplay, focusing too much on a contrived story, and not affording enough time to plot threads which beg to be explored, setting them up in flames before they can really get anywhere. It’s such a shame, because the first half of the game is genuinely really enjoyable, particularly as things begin to kick into gear, but the second half just doesn’t do enough to match it.

“The game feels cut short, just as you think you can see where it’s beginning to go.”

It’s around six or seven hours long on normal difficulty – and it’s hard to imagine it being much longer unless you spend a lot of time exploring every facet of each room – but the game feels cut short, just as you think you can see where it’s beginning to go, instead swapping out a perfectly good plot for something that just doesn’t work. It’s still very successful at blending cutscenes with gameplay, and the QTEs never feel overbearing, and as such it works for what it is, but it just doesn’t do quite enough when you look back on it as a whole, sadly losing the pacing it had built up in the first half.

Still, there’s really little to complain about in terms of the gameplay at least; the cover-based gunplay is notably fun, rather than feeling like a chore, due to the guns feeling extremely weighty and dangerous without being too old-fashioned in their nature. Parts of the environment get destroyed in firefights, and enemies realistically recoil when shot. Environmental melee attacks are always well-placed, and the shootouts just feel realistic.

This is in part thanks to Sir Galahad’s Blackwater: all of the members of The Order have this special concoction in a vial around their necks, and this instantly heals wounds as well as giving them slow-motion gunslinging abilities in the form of Blacksight, which comes as a recharging meter. It makes sense in the world, more so than Nathan Drake gunning down four thousand enemies and living to tell the tale.

It’s not only human enemies you’ll face; the half-breeds are terrifying and bring an authentic gothic aspect to the game, at times verging on true horror. Unfortunately, your encounters with these Lycan foes only come in two forms: a room battle where you must fight off a few, or a harder one-on-one boss battle. The first time each of these happen, it’s a thrill, but these sections are repeated and soon become stale when it’s almost the exact same situation as before.

In fact, when you pull The Order: 1886 apart, you’ll realise a lot of it is very scripted. There’s simply no freedom to how you tackle each section, and you’re often guided through. This is particularly noticeable in the dire stealth sections, where you must eliminate every guard before progressing, and to take out those guards you’ve got a timed QTE which activates as you approach them. There’s no nuance to the stealth, no hiding bodies or choosing your own path through, and you’ll be thankful that these sections only make up a small portion of the game.

You’ll be back to a gunfight in no time though, and it’s likely that you’ll find a weapon that you haven’t used before. While the pistols and shotguns are pretty standard, there are more outlandish weapons such as the thermite rifle, which has you fire once to sow your seeds and create a cloud of the substance before using your alt-fire to light it up. There’s also an arc rifle, which is devastating with its use of electricity, and even a wild west style double-firing revolver. You’ll often find, though, that you’re doing most of the work; your team mates won’t be of much assistance at all.

The game’s guns are extremely satisfying to use, partly because of how wonderfully loud they are, with the sounds being top-notch throughout the game. The cast also deliver impressive voice performances on all fronts, and the attention to detail in the sound design is outstanding, from characters’ breathing to incidental background noises and music which makes the world feel even more atmospheric.

This, combined with the aesthetics, makes The Order: 1886 an extremely polished and immersive experience, and one that you’ll be drawn into with its high production values and beautiful setting. There are some incredible set-pieces throughout which really show the power of the PS4, and even when you’re just climbing to a building’s roof and looking out over the world, you’ll notice how spectacular it can look, despite it blurring somewhat as you zoom in, which can be a pain in gunfights.

What’s Good:

  • Alternate history Victorian London setting is superb and refreshing.
  • The Order itself, and the conspiracy surrounding it, is quite interesting.
  • Guns feel weighty and shootouts are extremely fun.
  • Visually and aurally stunning, the best the PS4 has offered yet.

What’s Bad:

  • Abandons plot threads which could’ve been expanded upon to make a more robust package.
  • Very scripted, with poor stealth gameplay exposing this.
  • Repetition of sections wears thin.

The Order: 1886 features a wonderfully crafted and realistic alternate history setting with the greatest visuals and production values so far on the PS4. While the first half or so of the story really works, it’s let down by the final few hours, which abandon things shouting out to be explored in favour of introducing forced plot points which do the world and the main cast a disservice. Despite that, the gunplay is a lot of fun and it’s not a bad story overall, just one which could’ve been far better.

Score: 7/10

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19 Comments
  1. JustTaylorNow
    Member
    Since: Oct 2011

    I just don’t understand reviews, the way they are written & read, they sound higher than the score given at the bottom. Good read regardless though, the fact that they taken a page out of naughty dog, & taken a page out of sony Santa.

    But any who, I caved in & re pre order the game, something refreshing for my console. Going try get a quick plat, sell it while it’s still worthy the trade value

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:13.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      I think the review reads as “quite good”, it’s great at points but there are the flaws that bring it down. And, as it says in our review policy, 7/10 is “quite good”.

      Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:16.
      • JustTaylorNow
        Member
        Since: Oct 2011

        I wasn’t saying the write up was not good, I just meant it read like you praised it more than you did negatives but 7 is a brilliant score anything above 5 is brilliant & worth the play in my eyes

        Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:22.
    • Avenger
      Member
      Since: Oct 2012

      I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a lot of people do that, buy the game, play it, and sell it. It sounds like a solid game, just not something to go back to often.

      Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:20.
      • Blair Inglis
        hisnameisblair
        Since: May 2009

        I’d urge people to try it (and then trade it, probably), some will really like it and it’s good fun throughout, particularly in the first half.

        Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:25.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        That’s what my money was on for a while now. Big seller then massive second-hand sales on the likes of eBay. That’s what I’ll be doing when I decide to pick it up.

        Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 15:58.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I felt the same and that the article was overly positive compared to the score. However, the score obviously reflects the wayward situation after the halfway mark and it’s not just a “oh, it lost a point there”. Ultimately the score does something that I think is necessary from time-to-time. It needs to punish the latter few hours. Not in a horrid, trivial way but fundamentally this game could be a nine out of ten if they hadn’t lost the plot (possibly literally).

      From Blair’s review, I feel like it’s also one of those rare games which isn’t good, great, quite good or anything else. It’s actually two things. It sounds wonderful then, sadly, seeps into “ah… this has all gone a bit weird” which instantly reduces things down to the Quite Good rating.

      Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 15:57.
  2. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Despite the good (better than average, but not great) score I really think I’ll enjoy this. The fact it’s often compared to Uncharted is a good thing, and game length really isn’t a concern for me – so long as I enjoy it. Despite the praise I have for TLOU, I only ever played it for an hour or two at a time, due to it being very linear, and that didn’t do anything to ruin the experience, so the fact that this is scripted and linear doesn’t both me.

    The fact the gun play is solid, the graphics are stunning, the voice acting is decent, I love 3rd person shooters and the setting, I think I’ll really really like it.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:30.
    • Youles
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      “This is particularly noticeable in the dire stealth sections, where you must eliminate every guard before progressing”

      I discovered the exact same thing recently when playing Grounded mode on TLOU (without the QTE’s). I managed to sneak past a tricky section, only I couldn’t progress as I hadn’t killed everyone – silly when the game is about survival, and particularly when Grounded heavily limits your supplies.

      Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:35.
  3. camdaz
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    After reading your review it seems like a cross between Uncharted and The Sanctuary TV series, which is no bad thing.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 13:30.
  4. tactical20
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Still definitely gonna pick this up, but will just have to wait a while for a bargain price!

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 14:07.
  5. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Good review and the score is about where i expected it to be, i’m looking forward to getting stuck into it over the weekend.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 14:19.
  6. DividSmythe
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    My order of the order has been unordered. I’ll get my coat.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 15:38.
  7. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    I don’t think it’ll take long for it to drop in price, especially secondhand copies. That’s when I’ll get it… If I can muster the willpower to hold off.

    It’s a bit disappointing to hear RaD say it’s given an appropriate length for its story, with little filler. And then it turns out that’s exactly what it needed.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 16:34.
  8. leeroye
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    Ahh thank you thesixthaxis for a good old fashioned review with a score. Getting fed up of the Eurogamer reviews that show either “recommended” “no award” (who ever came up with that needs a slap) and not recommended. Top job.

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 17:13.
  9. MrJimmy
    Member
    Since: Forever

    Thanks Blair. I always read reviews in the context of how long I think the games I’ve already got will last me, if I was dry I would get this, but I’m not. So I won’t!

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 17:37.
  10. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Pre ordered and still canny wait to play it.

    Great read and review as always :-)

    Comment posted on 19/02/2015 at 23:43.

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