I’m going to try to set the record straight with this game. First of all, the PS4 exclusive had so much hype, as is the way with these things it probably couldn’t live up to expectations. Other sites who have already reviewed the game didn’t give it particularly good series of scores, blaming it being short, slow, dull, to many QTE’s, old-fashioned – Old Fashioned!! What kind of excuse is that? The very reason I was looking forward to The Order was because it’s a story lead old-fashioned video game. Would you mark down Resogun, Velocity or Rayman Legends for being old-fashioned?
The second thing that gets to me is because this game contains some cover from which you will shoot from, it’s immediately a Gears of War clone. While yes, there are shooting sections, I found The Order to be more in line with the likes of The Last of Us than the Gears games.
According to the developers, The Order was always going to primarily a story lead game, just like The Last of Us. And just like Naughty Dog’s game, there are shooting elements, stealth elements and the odd basic puzzle to solve. I really can’t understand why people are have such a bad time with The Order.
Anyways, rant over, onto the game. The Order 1886 takes place in, well, 1886 in old London amid the grisly Whitechapel murders. Not only do the police have Jack the Ripper to find but also fend off some supernatural evil. Thankfully there is a secret Order of Knights, that hark back to the days of King Arthur. It is the sworn duty of these knights to bring balance and protect London from supernatural forces.
From the outset one thing is immediately apparent, the game looks just beautiful. One of the best looking games you can get your hands on. No lie. The transition from cut scene to gameplay is flawless and really sucks you into the adventure. Even the characters eyes normally a stumbling point when rendering people look real.Ready at Dawn have excelled themselves.
Graphics aside, what you really want to know is, how does it play? Well, pretty well actually. Perhaps not as good as the lofty expectations the game has earned but a fun adventure nonetheless.
Comparisons to Gears of War were always going to happen, but I’m going to stick to my The Last of Us angle. The first thing you need to know is that this is a story led game. Ready at Dawn want to tell a story and they have done so by means of great acting, realistic characters and a game world that, although dark and dreary is imaginative and exciting. Sure there are shooting sections which do play out like your normal cover shooter, but there is more to it than that. For starters this is not a non stop shooting gallery like most shooters, there are other gameplay styles which punctuate the main story, but placed just at the right time to keep the flow going; nothing ever seems disjointed or out of place. There are also basic puzzles to solve, clues to find, stealth sections and QTE’s to complete, it’s got a little bit of everything.
Yes there are some QTE’s something which I’m sure you’ve read about in various other reviews. To be honest, they’re not that bad, and certainly don’t populate the game as much as you may have heard. They are placed at the right moments in the game to either push the story along or to make a fight scene more dramatic. They work well too with a new type of QTE mechanic that lets you navigate the scene to find the sweet spot to press your button. It works very well, and failure normally leads to a brutal cinematic death, this ramps up the tension something that can sometimes be missing from QTE’s.
What lets the game down isn’t the shooting or the QTE’s but the enemy AI. It’s not brilliant, they’re not particularly intelligent or dynamic meaning, for the most part at least, it’s just a case of waiting for them to pop out from cover and shooting them. Speaking of the shooting, although it’s fun and solid, it feels week. This is in part to the weapons you’ll be using. Forget massive blasters that have base and feel meaty when shooting, The Order uses weapons from the era the game is set and by default those weapons don’t feel particularly powerful and kind of just go ‘pop’. The only time you’ll feel powerful is when you use the bullet time feature, which slows down time and allows you to target enemies and take them out. It’s awesome. That’s not to say there aren’t any good weapons, there are, and pretty imaginative but believable too. The Thermite gun being my favourite.
Another problem I had was with the game world. Don’t get me wrong, visually, I LOVE IT, having a game set in my home town is brilliant but it’s so linear. To give it a Monopoly analogy – Go straight to jail, do not pass go and do not collect £200. This basically translates into there is no exploration of this fine world whatsoever, you go along your set path and that’s it, no deviation. Which is a shame as this version of London Town is just screaming out to be explored further especially given the vistas you can see. Funny though, given the linear nature of the game, it is sometimes hard to work out where you are supposed to go next. There is no waypoint or map at your disposal so you can end up wandering around the same patch of level until you see an exit, or your objective. To give the illusion of exploration, there are items dotted around levels which you can pick up and look over, but you can’t collect them so there is no real point to them. Newspaper clippings, photos and what-not all bring an extra depth to the world, but are totally unnecessary and pointless. In game world terms The Order 1886 is a wasted opportunity me thinks.
So, what we have here then is a brilliant story led game that looks stunning and will blow your mind in places. The gameplay is fun and works for the most part. I’m not sure what people were expecting with The Order 1886 but for me it has delivered everything I wanted. In this age of Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed, GTA, Watch Dogs, The Crew all big expansive open worlds for you to explore, I found this story led game something of a refreshing change, a compact adventure full of twists that leaves you wanting more.
And from the way the game ends, that’s just what you’ll be getting.