After a promising preview at EGX in 2014, it seems that The Order: 1886 may not have lived up to the hype. Jack England gives his opinion.
The Order: 1886 (Which from now on I will refer to as just The Order, because adding arbitrary Victorian years to video game titles is stupid), is Ready at Dawn’s newest, and first, release for the PlayStation 4, sending the player to an alternate London filled with tesla-coil powered weapons, King Arthur and werewolves. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, sounding awesome and being awesome are two pretty different things.
Let’s start with the good; The Order looks gorgeous and it really does push the limits of the home console. Each character model is individually designed and I didn’t see two people who looked the same – sometimes I was more interested in the environment around me than the impending doom ahead of me. Ready at Dawn deserve major praise for this; as an up-and-coming development team they have released a game that looks even more beautiful than The Last of Us, and if aesthetics and graphics are your heroin, you’ll want to pick this up right away. Each location is varied enough so that you still feel like you’re in a steam-punk London each time, but the textures and areas aren’t just repeated over and over. Don’t worry about frame-rate drops though, as personally I didn’t really experience any!
Gameplay-wise, The Order plays like any other standard Third Person Shooter (think of games like Gears of War and Mass Effect), and although I’m personally not a fan of such games, The Order worked well. The weapons are smooth and fluid and a lot of fun to use, although it’s nothing really revolutionary. The AI is good, keeping you invested in the world as long possible before they need to restart their programming and act a little out of place, but this happens in nearly every game and you can’t expect Ready at Dawn to get it perfect first time.
Now to the bad; The Order seems less like a full video game and more like a visual demo. There are a lot of reports that the game itself can be completed in five hours, which I do believe is possible – I was able to complete it in seven hours. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with short games, but for £50 the amount of gameplay is not worth the money, and it does annoy me a little that developers think that it’s fair to release a game so short for so much money. Even worse, the majority of the game seems to be comprised of cut scenes, and although I usually don’t mind this in retrospect it’s remarkable that so much of the game is cinematic.
The Order isn’t terrible, but it isn’t incredibly amazing either. If you really want to buy it and have the money to spare, I won’t stop you. If you’d rather wait for a sale and pick it up then, I’d probably say that’s the better option. It’s definitely a game that was needed though; it displays the graphical power of the PlayStation 4 and makes you realise how incredible and immersive future games could get. It’s also a good start for what I hope will become a series, because if a sequel to The Order were released that was a bit longer and took the story a further, I’d definitely pick it up. Overall it’s a gorgeous game, with pretty good gameplay that pushes the limits of home consoles. But as it’s a little on the short side, it might be wise to wait for a sale.