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The Order 1886 – Something is rotten in steampunk England

REVIEW – Welcome to an alternate reality steampunk version of Victorian England where the Knights of the Round Table: the members of the mysterious Order are fighting against Half-breed: a species of bestial humans which evolved after mankind began to ‘genetically split in two’ in even more ancient times. In this haunting world where technology evolved you are leading one of the Knights: Sir Galahad in his fight against Half-breeds and rebels. Ready at Dawn’s tactical action game already caused lots of bad rumours before its release so we started the game a bit anxiously whether it’s another triumphant entry in the PlayStation’s exclusive library or rather a bitter disappointment?

 

The Order 1886 looks simply stunning. That’s the first impression I had, when I entered the gloomy Victorian world of the game. There were some initial concerns from many people over the aspect ratio of 2:40:1 instead of the traditional 16:9, but I quickly forgot about those little black bars on the top and bottom of the screen once I was totally immersed in the world of The Order 1886 after being five minutes in the game.

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Cinema paradiso

Ready at Dawn captured the ambiance of this steampunk world to such cinematic perfection that words honestly can’t sum up exactly how impressive the game looks. Both lighting and textures works perfectly to create what might be the single best looking game I’ve ever experienced on a console. This includes the character animations which are also some of the best I’ve seen and when you add it all up it makes for an excellent visual representation of 1886 London reimagined in alternate reality.

Besides being beautiful the game is also doing a great job at mixing action and cut scenes seamlessly. It’s so seamless in fact, that you might have the impression, that there’s actually too much cut scenes in the game. (I had a long discussion with a friend whether The Order 1886 is interactive enough.)

At the very beginning of the game the player guides Galahad forward it cuts scenes into rendered animations of  the Knight falling into walls and doubling over in pain. Everything is seamless, everything is pretty much unnoticeable and it really helps to experience that cinematic feel that the developers were aiming to achieve.

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Self-righteous bastards or gallant knights?

Besides the jaw dropping graphics the other part of the game, what I really liked in The Order 1886 are the story and whole setting. Yes, I am a sucker for both classic Arthurian legends and steampunk worlds but even those, who aren’t a fan can’t deny, that the game’s milieu is pretty much spot on.

The Order itself isn’t made entirely from gallant knights in shiny armour as you would expect from the Knights of the Round Table, but from different characters with complex personalities serious inner conflicts between its members. Galahad shows himself to be a serious, poignant figure, with undying loyalty to The Order, juxtaposing militaristic virtue during combat with the growing strands of self-doubt and existential concern under the surface.

Lady Igraine is a strong-willed woman, skilled in combat and fiercely loyal to The Order 1886. Marquis de Lafayette is known to have a brash, whimsical demeanor, grounding some of the more serious tones of the other members of the order. Considering that he fought in two major revolutions, Marquis adopted a more light-hearted outlook on the concept of war.

It’s also interesting to note, that while the Blackwater, a mystical liquid that significantly extends the Knight’s lifetimes and gives them remarkable healing abilities, however it doesn’t make them immortal. The Knight’s names like Sir Galahad, and Lady Igraine are simply codenames: the original persons died a long time ago. For example Grayson is the third knight to bear the name of Sir Galahad.

The main antagonists are equally complex and interesting. I don’t want to spoil the story, suffice to say that we will meet the rebel’s leader, who is a beautiful Indian aristocratic woman and there are some disturbing events amidst the Order as well… While the story has its cheesy moments, it’s still one of the best part of the game which is most certainly story-oriented.

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There’s one way to do it

Linearity was one of the main criticisms we hear about the game and if you generally hate this aspect, you won’t be happy with The Order 1886 either. Ready at Dawn’s title is the exact opposite of open world games: it’s actually a completely linear cover shooter á la Gears of War. Yes it doesn’t bring any innovation to the table in this regard either, so if you are sick of cover shooters, don’t buy The Order 1886 since it’s all too similar to Gears of War and alike.

Your path will lead through the narrow streets of Victorian London, with sometimes some folks here and there – not too much to be honest. London looks fantastic, but you might miss the feeling of walking though the city – more or less – freely.

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“Take cover Knight!”

The cover shooting mechanics are rather good, if not especially interesting. You can basically hide or shoot and while the aiming is precise you cannot do anything else to protect yourself which can be a bit annoying especially on Hard difficulty level.

The enemy AI is rather serviceable, but I still fail to see, why some of your enemies always run at you like a headless chicken, in hope of reaching you alive, instead shooting at you from safe distance. We are not talking about zombies…

The shooting sections are however generally pretty enjoyable, even if the arsenal isn’t that steam punkish, as we were lead to believe by the previews of the game. Still, I must confess, that I pretty much enjoyed the 1880’s standard arsenal, and didn’t felt the need of more futuristic weapons.

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Shadows over the Order

The fights against vanilla werewolves are a bit less enjoyable. Basically they are always using the same attack pattern and besides the need for quick reflexes, once you learned their pattern, there’s little else to do than either shoot, when they run at you or duck fast with X, if they survived. When they are near death, you must run at them and achieve them with your trusty dagger. Rinse and repeat.

Still the worst part of the game is the section where you have to sneak by a big group of guards and kill them silently – with just one button at the right moment. The sneaking execution is God-awful, perhaps the worst I have ever seen in any game. If the same-looking guards (whom sometimes you cannot even see because of the bad camera angle) spots you, you are instantly shot and dead. If you miss your only strike you are instantly shot and dead. What the Hell?! And the worst part: you are always taken back to beginning of the level when spotted and killed. If I had to experience those sneaking parts more than once, the game would have receive a much lower score.

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This Victorian England might or might not be your cup of tea

While I more or less enjoyed The Order 1886 – especially the excellent story, setting and characters – I understand where the complaints are coming from. Yes, the game is absolutely linear, yes, it’s a bit on the short side (about 7-8 hours, if you are an expert, the 5 hours are bullshit) and there’s tons of cut scenes, so if you don’t like them, or you want simply a lot more gameplay, you might want to give this game a cold shoulder.

It’s also a game which you migth want to finish in one or two settings so that the atmosphere would stay with you. Once again I had a difficult job to score the game, since 7/10 would be a bit too low, but 8/10 is perhaps a bit too much. It’s somewhere between them. The Order 1886ir?t=p0559 21&l=ur2&o=2 is definitely not the triumphant PlayStation 4 exclusive you were all waiting for but it’s still a good game with an excellent story, interesting world and solid – if a bit unremarkable – cover shooter mechanics. Let’s just make this sequel a bit better, shall we?

-BadSector-


Pro:

+ Great story, setting, characters
+ Gorgeous graphics
+ Solid combat (if unremarkable)

Against:

– Relatively short
– Too much cut scenes (for some)
– That awful sneaking level!


 

Editor: SCEA

Developer: Ready at Dawn

Genres: action, adventure, tactical

Publication: 20 February 2015

REVIEW - Welcome to an alternate reality steampunk version of Victorian England where the Knights of the Round Table: the members of the mysterious Order are fighting against Half-breed: a species of bestial humans which evolved after mankind began to 'genetically split in two' in even more ancient times. In this haunting world where technology evolved you are leading one of the Knights: Sir Galahad in his fight against Half-breeds and rebels. Ready at Dawn’s tactical action game already caused lots of bad rumours before its release so we started the game a bit anxiously whether it’s another triumphant entry…
The Order 1886 is definitely not the triumphant PlayStation 4 exclusive you were all waiting for but it’s still a good game with an excellent story, interesting world and solid – if a bit unremarkable – cover shooter mechanics. Let’s just make this sequel a bit better, shall we?

The Order 1886

Gameplay - 7.2
Graphics - 9.2
Story - 8.5
Music/audio - 8.6
Longevity - 5.5

7.8

GOOD

The Order 1886 is definitely not the triumphant PlayStation 4 exclusive you were all waiting for but it’s still a good game with an excellent story, interesting world and solid – if a bit unremarkable – cover shooter mechanics. Let’s just make this sequel a bit better, shall we?

User Rating: 3.7 ( 1 votes)

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