When the Order 1886 was first announced and the very first trailer was shown a while back, hype immediately began to build for this new IP. The studios that are involved are Santa Monica Studios and Ready at Dawn. Everyone one knows who Santa Monica Studios (SMS) is from the God of War series, Twisted Metal and some other PSN games. Some may not have heard about Ready at Dawn. Their main focus was on the PSP console and smaller games as well. The Order 1886 was their first big step into the home console genre. They had a lot riding on this game to help them stand out as a big name AAA title developer. So how did Ready at Dawn do and how did The Order 1886 turn out? Let’s take a look and see.
I, myself, was pretty excited about this game. It was being published by one of my favorite developers, SMS, and being created by a company I know from their PSP games, Ready at Dawn. With the design and support that SMS provided, I was expecting a masterful piece of artwork. Anything less and I would be disappointed.
You play as Sir Galahad, a member of the Knights of The Order taking the fight in Victorian-era London against creatures known as Half-Breeds. These are, what look like normal people, who turn into a Werewolf type of creature, known as a Lycan. These are strong and fast creatures that you will have to fight along the way in the story. Not much is said about their past or where they originated from. The game left them as a mystery.
One of the most impressive things about this game is the graphics. They are just phenomenal. The gameplay graphics and cut scenes are blended together very nicely. It was very hard trying to determine which one was which. A few times I was watching my screen waiting for something else to continue in the cut scene when I actually had control of Galahad. During the opening few minutes of the game you witness Galahad in prison. The camera focuses on the ground and you see the bottom of Galahad’s feet. What makes this forth mentioning is the wrinkles that appear on the bottom of his feet. Ready at Dawn could have very easily just made his foot smooth but they took the time to add in the wrinkles. Later on in the game you get to rappel down the side of a blimp. Once again the developers could have just easily show his foot land on the side of the blimp and be done with it. They took the extra time to show foot prints imprinted in the side of the blimp as your character would push off. Another fine example of the amount of detail Ready put into this game is the way your coat moves in the air and how is twists and flaps in heavy wind. It’s the little small things that help make The Order an amazing graphical experience. You can really tell they took their time on the visual aspects of the game.
In normal, typical games, when you pick up an item, you may get the chance to look at it from one angle and then put it away. In this game, you actually have the ability to move it around in your hand and look at it from about every side imaginable. In some instances you can even interact with it. For example, like checking to see if a gun is loaded. This little bit of interaction helps the feeling that you were actually holding the item in your own hands. I believe more developers should incorporate this into their games.
Along the way you will come across some locked doors that you can pick. The mini game that sets off is actually really well thought out and how it is displayed. What happens is you place a pump type of device into the lock and the pump raises up the levers one at a time. The way you see the levers is displayed as an X-Ray of the lock itself. You need to move your joystick around to a certain point until the lever is high enough and then “lock” it in place. Then you move on to the next levers until you are done. Using the X-Ray aspect is very ingenious in my eyes. I was greatly please on how well they created that.
The actual gameplay was very satisfying as well. The combat felt fluid and sharp. Unfortunately, there really isn’t enough of it. Between physical gameplay and cut scenes it felt about a 50-50 balance. You would play for a few minutes then be rewarded with a cut scene. While those are nice and can help move the story along, I felt like there was not enough physical gameplay. You would start to get in a groove and then it would transition into a cut scene. The Order is not an open world type of game. Infact it is has very linear gameplay. The only exploring that can be done is in an adjuring room or to the end of a hallway.
In some of the sections of the game you will be carrying a lantern around to see in the darken path that is ahead of you. When you do run across an enemy you cannot use your melee attack. The only form of attack that you can do is with your guns. This seemed a little strange to me. While I never encountered this problem I kept thinking about what would happen if I was low on ammo. I couldn’t melee my enemy to give me a few seconds head start to reach another room or the next checkpoint. It left an empty feeling in combat. It would have been nice if you hit your enemy with the lantern to stun them or even have the flame inside catch their clothes on fire, then your flame goes out, leaving you to find your way through the darken hallway or room until you reach the next lantern or daylight. To me that would have helped given the game a more exciting nervous/scary feel to it.
One of the biggest problems this game suffers is the QTE (Quick Time Events) events. You will be in fight when out of nowhere a QTE will present itself. What really got me aggravated about this is how is was handled. You would have to move your “cursor” to the correct spot on the screen and then press the correct button that it displayed. This doesn’t sound all that bad on paper. To move your “cursor” you needed to move the right joystick. I kept finding myself trying to move the left joystick while having my thumb hovering over the set of action buttons to strike quickly when needed. Having the “cursor” mapped to the right stick didn’t feel very natural. Thankfully they didn’t design the game as when you moved your thumb off the right stick the “cursor” would snap back with the joystick. That would have really made it frustrating. Thankfully instead they left the “cursor” there and allowed you plenty of time to press the correct action button that was displayed.
On my screen the tutorial would be cut off on the right hand side. I watched others play this game and their tutorials showed completely on their screen. I tried to look under the settings but there was no option to change the screen size. It felt like the actual projection of the image was too big for my 22” monitor that I was playing on. I have never had this problem with any other game being displayed on this screen before. It made me feel throughout the game that I was missing something on the sides. I did some research and came across a few forums that people have been experiencing this same problem.
There has been a lot said about the actual game length. I clocked in about 7 hours all together as I would take my time to scavenge what areas I could and just look around at the scenery that was in front of me. The 5 hours some people have been claiming can be justified if you do a speed run through the game. While this may seem short by today’s standards, it actually felt about perfect to me and how the story was paced. All together there are 16 chapters to play through which includes the prologue. Out of these chapters number 7, 12 and 13 are all strictly cut scenes. So in all there are actually 13 playable chapters. Each chapter is no more than 15 to 20 minutes long. Once you complete it, you are done. There really is no replayability to it, unless you want to try on a higher difficulty.
The game difficulty itself leans towards the easier side of things. I played on the “medium” difficulty and only got stuck at one point. That only lasted a few minutes. A slight change in strategy was all that was needed to get though that part. If you use your special ability called Blacksight, which allows you to slow down time, Galahad will automatically lock on to the nearest enemy to him. While this sounds great it has some drawbacks. For one you cannot control where you are aiming your gun. This would be a perfect time to pull off some quick headshots on a number of enemies. Instead you have to just go with what the game wants you to shoot at. It is very helpful though when you are facing the Lycans. This slows their charge and allows more precise shooting at them so you can knock them down so you can deliver the killing blow.
For those who like to collect the collectables, this game will make you smile. Everything can be found very easily. Since there isn’t a lot of exploration to do, everything is laid out right in front of you. If you get in the vicinity of something, an action icon will pop up by it. There is one collectible that you will miss on your initial playthrough. You can only get that by finishing a certain chapter and then going back to the main menu and choosing chapter select. Other than that everything can be collected on your initial run.
If you are a Trophy hunter, like myself, you can earn the Platinum on your initial playthrough. The only thing you will miss is the one collectable trophy and of course the Platinum to go with it. There are no difficulty level trophies of any kind. You can literally breeze through the game on easy and earn your Platinum in well under 10 hours. With the use of Blacksight, including how fast you can fill it up, The Order 1886, on easy, is laughable.
In the end, the final question remains, is The Order 1886 worth picking up. Yes! With how much I actually like playing the game, I would say wait until it gets a price cut and is in the $40 range. This game does indeed need to be played though. The story is very gripping and the graphics are gorgeous. With how short it is, lack of replayability and short-comings, it is best to wait a few months when this gets its price cut. Hopefully Ready at Dawn will take the criticism they are getting for this and focus on those in the next installment.