Review: The Order 1886
Until today, Ready at Dawn had worked in the shadow of a bigger Sony studio, formed by a mishmash of former Blizzard and Naughty Dog developers, with projects such as Daxter and God of War: Chains of Olympus for the PSP. With the announcement of the PlayStation 4, the studio had been given the opportunity to get into the big leagues, and prove its value to the world with The Order 1886.
Since its announcement, The Order 1886 seemed to have given the same impression for everyone; with each new preview event, trailers, gameplay features, we all were mesmerized by its unreal graphical beauty, indecent, glowing, but without any inspiration nor any ambition when it came to the gameplay. Sadly, once we had the product in our hand, my own fears were right: there is not a single new idea when it comes to gameplay, nothing, nada. It is like every single feature that was abused over the past decade is stuffed in this game: Automatic regeneration, Gears of War cover system, Red Dead Redemption dead eye, and more. Were you expecting a coop experience as well? Well, stash your headset back in the close; this is a solo experience, even one that could be called a spectacle, but not an interactive one.
Nevertheless, Ready at Dawn was ambitious from the beginning to position The Order 1886 as a cinematic experience, so I will only blame the publisher’s marketing hype for alluding us to something else. However, assuming that you have never set foot in the movie theaters, and cannot differentiate the quality of a cinematic experience between the awful B-Movie Sharknado and the iconic Godfater, there’s nothing to be wowed about the “movie” plot of this game. Cheesy lines and overplayed generic dialogues defiles the immersion, with a voice acting that is not up to the scale. This doesn’t mean The Order for 1886 is not the most beautiful game released on the console at the moment. But like many others before him, SoulCalibur to Ryse, even Crysis, its beauty will soon fade, remembering the game as a technological showcase for the PlayStation 4 power than a game.
There’s a certain immersion pushed to you, one that has you scan every single details in the scene, from the rifle designs, to the leather textures of clothing, and more. However, the beauty of The Order 1886 is not limited only to simple details as sublime as they are. Everything is beautiful. Overhanging the Victorian London from the gazebo, and admire the sunken fireplaces, light fog that veils the Thames, and horse carriages that reflect the city buzzing lifestyle. I’ll always remember this infiltration sequence set under a rainy day, as laborious to play, as sumptuous to see. Not only the models are divine, regardless of where the eye can see, but also the game dons visual filters of rare elegance, an avalanche of shaders that caress the retina.
The game dons visual filters of rare elegance, an avalanche of shaders that caress the retina.
This visual excellence, it is also found during gunfights, which dazzle more the eye than revolutionize the genre. Basic guns are crisp and are cleanly designed, including the M2 Falchion Auto-Rifle with its secondary fire, which sends a shotgun bang to propel enemies back in a cloud of smoke. But the stars of the show are undoubtedly the railguns (called Arc Gun), raining lightning with great electrifying particle effects, and the Thermite Rifle that gruesomely disintegrate parts off the body of your enemy. These are obviously overpowered guns, which requires less cover tactics than the rest, but is childishly fun to use.
For achieving such a degree of heavy technical and graphical requirements, Ready at Dawn must have faced heavy choices during the development. Sadly, I am not just talking about the letterbox effect that quietly overcome some full screen graphical and processing constraints (the so-called cinematic experience… What a sham). No, the real problem is that Ready at Dawn forgot to focus on gameplay and level design, which results in a tangle of corridors and closed doors section, with enemies that have the AI level of a rock. Just for this reason alone, it is advisable to start the adventure on the highest difficulty to have some sort of challenge, even if it only affects the strength of the enemy, but not their behavior. However, occasionally, an armored unit with a shotgun will appear, or even a sniper with an eagle like vision will challenge you, and will sadly be the only ones to represent any danger.
I cannot recommend anyone to pay a full price for a PlayStation 4 technical demo
However, regardless of the AI and level design, I cannot tolerate this moldy infiltration system, these unlikely moments when the guards supposedly cannot see you, and turns back to kill you when you’re a feet away from them; and no matter whether you are virtually indestructible the rest of the time, if the QTE sequence is failed, it is immediate death. Armed with a crossbow or not, each of these sequences feel like a hair that fell into the meal in the world, but I guess the developers felt it would break the monotony of the corridors action. What’s also annoying about these QTE is the enormous and indiscreet amount of them, polluting boss fights (modeled the same way with added features), but they have the merit of offering some variations in their defeat animations. Worst part about all of this, is that I would have gladly preferred more thrilling fights against the Lycans, clearly left behind the script and gameplay, away from the initial promise. I mean, what happened to “history’s worst kept secret?”
And that’s it. A six hour long title, half of it consisting of unskippable cut-scenes and a waterfall of QTEs, The Order 1886 only stretch its concept to a “cinematic experience”. As for the game, in the absence of multiplayer, cooperative mode, an annex script, nothing to reveal at the end of the adventure, and a replay value limited to the choice of difficulty, there’s not much to look for. If The Order 1886 was a first in the genre (considering we already had such so-called cinematic experience such as Beyond: Two Souls or Heavy Rain), the criticism could’ve been appeased, but with the current plot it offers with an old gameplay blend of various recipes, I cannot recommend anyone to pay a full price for a PlayStation 4 technical demo.
The Order 1886 was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 copy of the game provided by Sony PlayStation. The game is exclusive to PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• A gorgeous work of lighting effects
• Beautiful done interior and outdoor designs
• The most beautiful textures I've seen in a long time
• Elegant visual filters
• Invisible loading screens
• Splendid facial work on the models
• Those beards are impeccable!
• Some fun action sequences
• Outdated gameplay and infiltration sequences
• No coop or multiplayer options even with four heroes on the packshot
• Abuse of QTE
• Sad and forgettable scenario
• That letterbox frame is just lazy
• Six hour top for a game lifespan is bad
• So much recycling throughout the game
• AI level of a shoe