The Order 1886 Review
The Order 1886 is a third person shooter game which was developed by Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studios. The game is published by Sony Computer Entertainment, exclusively for the PlayStation 4. In the game you will play as Sir Galahad, a mustache wearing knight who along with his coworkers is trying to put up a fight against the Lycans who pose a threat to the world and its people.
The Order 1886 Trailer
The graphics in The Order 1886 are probably the best part of the game. Many of the characters, the environments and the attention to the detail in the world are excellent. There are many moments where you can stop and look around at the environment or the constructed world and its detail and marvel at how well it’s made. Characters are also highly detailed, with things like eyes, hair and costumes all very well done in the game. Other graphical effects like the way the guns fire and the fire effects are really great as well.
The voice acting for the main characters is also well done. I enjoyed the voice acting from Steve West who was the voice of Sir Galahad and also thought that Alice Coulthard had done well with her character, Lady Igraine. I do wish that the actors had a lot more to do with their roles though, while voice acting was good overall from everyone, most characters are serious and rigid the whole way through the game so there isn’t much there in terms of emotional performances. But this is more to do with how the story is structured.
The Order 1886 places a massive amount of game time telling its story. For the most part The Order 1886 has a lot of cutscenes which are long and filled with dialogue as well as a lot of quick time events for the player to deal with. The main issue I have with this is that with all the cutscenes you would imagine that the story would be quite compelling and interesting to follow. But for me it wasn’t. Galahad and the rest of his friends work as knights in a kind of secret Order of knights during 1886 (hence The Order 1886). But something is not right right with The Order which Galahad serves and it kind of leads Galahad to question it, it’s very predictable storytelling and I feel like I’ve heard this story before, in many games. There’s the knights, there’s the Lycans and the United India Company. They are all killing each other and against each other but all kind of bad in their own way and you’re stuck in the middle.
The game takes place in an alternate history kind of like the way The Wolfenstein: The New Order does. The Order’s knights are meant to be kind of like the knights of Kings Arthur and you’ll see in the game that there is a massive round table that they meet at and it’s kind of like the Knighthood continued all the way through history. You meet and deal with one historical figure, Nikola Tesla, who some may know for his work with electricity and in particular the alternating current. Tesla helps Galahad and the order by creating weapons for them to fight the Lycans with. Some of the weapons are very cool and you get to use some electricity based guns and some fire based ones as well. Others are tools for shutting off power using the current which you unlock fairly early in the game. The Order 1886’s historical context and setting is fairly interesting, but having played through the game now and finished it, I would have liked to know more about the Lycans and where they came from.
The characterisation of Galahad and the rest of those who appear in The Order 1886 is fairly weak once you examine it closely. There’s no real emotional moments or great parts to Galahad really. Sure he has a tough time, gets captured and injured throughout the game and meets a lot of people. But it’s difficult to see where this changes him or adds any depth. I also felt that Galahad doesn’t really connect with those around him. At the start of the game I thought that maybe Lady Igraine might be a type of love interest later on, but the game never really went there at all. As a video game hero, Galahad doesn’t seem to have much appeal. Maybe I’m wrong and people can leave their comments about Galahad as they saw him, but he’s not a star like Nathan Drake is and is less than half as interesting. I just don’t see him as a heroic video game character, Galahad’s just very rigid and bland. I think this is mainly because even though with all the story focus that the game has, by the end of it they didn’t really put in much effort into developing the central character or those around him. When looking at other story focused games and even ones that are far shorter than this such as Life Is Strange, there is more character development in just a few short hours in that game than the many hours with Galahad in The Order 1886.
The gameplay elements are great at times and other times a bit slow, but overall good. As a third person shooter the game is a bit too easy, but you can have a lot of fun with it. The weapons are well mixed and interesting as well. I particularly liked the fire gun you get to use in certain chapters. It works by firing what looks like smoke where your enemies are and then firing into that smoke, which lights up the smoked areas, it’s just a lot of fun to use.
The Order 1886 Gameplay
When you look at the gameplay video I posted above, which is just recorded by me playing one of the early stages of the game. You can see that it has black bars at the top and the bottom. This actually will be how the game will look on most people’s televisions as the aspect ratio for the game is 2:40:1 and not 16:9. I guess this was to add a cinematic effect as often times films will appear this way on TV’s if you were to watch a blu-ray disc. I don’t particularly enjoy this aspect ratio, I mean if you have a big TV it’s fine but if you’re playing on a screen that is on 32 inches then you lose a lot of your screen. I imagine this was a decision made for artistic effect and at times because of the really great graphics it does feel like I’m playing in a movie. But still, I would have just preferred if it was full screen.
I actually do enjoy the cinematic feel to The Order 1886 though. One of the better levels I thought was this one where you are abseiling down the side of a blimp in order to get into another blimp and the game alternates well between the quick time events and gameplay. The graphics stay consistent between the cut scenes and the gameplay at times and this makes for a good experience.
Where the game falls down though in terms of the gameplay I think is on three main points. The first is that in the times when you are made to simply walk around, it feels like Galahad takes forever to get anywhere. There’s a level where you get to meet Nikola Tesla and he tells you to take a look around his lab. Galahad walks so slow through here and on my second playthrough I knew where to go and it just took forever, this happens many times in the game and often times they don’t let you make Galahad jog for some reason. The second bad thing is the objects and newspapers. These things are scattered all over and Galahad picks them up and you look at them and put them down again. Most of the time Galahad doesn’t even comment on the objects and you can’t even really read the newspapers. It’s so slow to pick these things up and look at them and most of them do nothing at all and don’t even really add any content unless you count the audio files you pick up as interesting. The final thing is that the gunfight scenes while there are many are far too short and the areas you engage enemies in are always the same. With the humans you just hide and cover and take one down at a time until you’re done (I don’t think they ever try to get around you) and with the Lycans you just dodge by pressing x, shoot them a bit and press triangle to finish them off. All these things are not really that engaging at all.
Some of the items you find in The Order 1886 that you get to look at
I did enjoy the one stealth mission where you needed to go through a garden filled with guards without being spotted. You could either take them out silently by sneaking up on them and pressing triangle to disable them, or by using your crossbow. It was a well done part of the game. I also enjoyed the lock picking system where you had to hold simultaneous buttons and try to get the lock open, it was well animated and not irritating at all to pick locks in The Order 1886. Nikola Tesla’s electricity device was good as well. The quick time events were well done and some of the bigger fight scenes with the Lycan characters can get pretty dramatic, but also looked great at the same time.
The music in The Order 1886 is well done. Although I feel that the tone of the music made the game feel sad a lot of the time, if you listen just to the menu theme in the game it’s not very happy or exciting. I’m not sure why the tone was chosen as the game doesn’t seem sad from looking at the story material but nevertheless it’s there. During the gameplay things pick up with the music to feel more action like with its sounds.
Overall The Order 1886 was an interesting experience and graphically very beautiful to look at. But it has some issues when it comes to telling its story and misses the importance character development throughout the game. Some of the levels are a lot of fun to play with and I particularly liked the one stealth area in the game as well as many of the gun based third person shooter areas. I just wish that the game was more difficult than it was because after all it is a game and games need to have some type of challenge. Maybe the levels could have been a bit longer as well because enemies don’t take long to get through before the next cutscene comes along. The quick time events with the Lycan characters are quite dramatic and well done. The Order 1886 is a game that I think had grand ambitions to be really something great but in making everything so well presented the developers forgot the importance of level design and difficulty, which made The Order 1886 feel like it was just an easy game to finish in the end of it all.