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‘The Order – 1886’: Delivering a Strong Story, Without the Fun

The Order: 1886 has fast become the most polarising release of 2015. Some have showcased their strong dislike for Ready at Dawn’s PlayStation 4 debut, while others have praised its excellence. I find myself in neither group, as I didn’t love my time with it, nor did I grow an intense hatred for the experience.

The order

Ultimately, what made The Order receive such a vast array of opinions throughout the industry? After deliberating this question for weeks, I came to my own conclusion. When I think of my play-through, I find myself focusing on the narrative, the characters, and the strong atmosphere throughout the London setting. The word I find myself using to describe my opinion is interesting. The Order: 1886 is interesting. Even from the opening cut scenes, I found myself curious in how Sir Galahad found himself in this ungodly predicament. Though I myself find struggling to recall moments throughout the game where I was having much fun. That’s not to say The Order was a horrible experience. Instead, it tends to deliver an interesting experience rather than one that contains moment to moment excitement.

The game developed a strong world with an array of interesting characters, but for the most part, it kept us from exploring London itself. Though why does a game like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which thrives on providing a linear gameplay experience, succeed, when this one fails? I believe this was due to the fact The Order: 1886 constantly wanted to hold us back from having control of our own fun. Uncharted 2 is ultimately a linear game, but there are sections where it allowed the player to tackle situations from any angle and conquer the task at hand the way the player wanted. The Order never allows this. Even during the final few sections of the game, I recall simply shooting enemies within a small linear corridor before moving to the final battle. This didn’t emphasise the final encounter or ask the player to be intuitive in order to succeed; it merely threw more enemies in a smaller corridor and said “shoot.”

I personally loved using the unique weaponry throughout. Not only did it help liven up the monotony of shooting generic enemy types, but it was simply more fun to use out of this world weaponry instead of a generic arsenal. But for some reason, Ready at Dawn holds us back from using these well designed weapons as much as possible. There were only a few sections where Galahad actually begins his mission with these unique weapons in hand, and although they can be picked up from a handful of enemies during missions, for the most part, Galahad must settle for generic weapons. I understand Ready at Dawn may not have wanted the player to become overpowered throughout these sections, or perhaps they never wanted us to become bored of these new weapons. These weapons helped keep gameplay fresh and entertaining, but instead of allowing us to truly wield this interesting arsenal of weapons, it simply refuses, removing the most entertaining aspect of gameplay in the process.

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This isn’t the only aspect where Ready at Dawn moderated the fun; one of the biggest culprits of this was during the infamous stealth section during the latter half of the game. The Order: 1886 is not a stealth game, and the tools provided to successfully conquer these stealth sections were poor at best. Yet, here I was spending a solid hour trying to successfully sneak my way through a poorly lit garden in hopes of avoiding contact with the enemy. Despite giving us poor tools to succeed at the task at hand, these stealth sections also produced instant fails if you don’t press a button within the correct time frame.

Galahad is no slouch, as this man could kill an entire town with his talent and arsenal of weaponry on his shoulders; yet here I was experiencing instant fails due to poor timing. There wasn’t even an option to try and fix your mistake; it was simply an instant fail. Stealth franchise veterans have learned that this isn’t the way to develop fun stealth gameplay. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Hitman: Absolution, and even Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes allowed you to cope with your mistakes and find a way to improvise your way to success. The Order: 1886 is the best realistic looking game I have seen, truly showcasing what next generation can be. When sections like this are included in a game that is trying to showcase what next generation can be, it showcases an archaic gameplay feature that contradicts the very fibers of what it was trying to accomplish.

Despite constantly removing the chances of fun gameplay throughout Galahad’s journey, the narrative succeeds at providing an interesting and endearing tale. Galahad has been a part of The Order for an extremely long time, and even though he has been under their jurisdiction for so long, he isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right. When he loses his close friend, he becomes consumed with rage, as he seeks out the truth behind his friend’s death. Galahad is willing to break ranks and sacrifice his own life in order to find the truth. I found it hard to not respect his decision and his reasoning behind it.

The Order

I also found the origins of The Order and the Half Breed threat were also excellent, as well as the interpretation of an alternate Victorian period of London. These ideas were well constructed and weaved in historic characters from the period of time, but also produced a unique spin that kept me wanting to push forward to find out how the story would unfold.

I believe The Order: 1886 will receive a sequel at some point, but as to whether it will continue with Galahad’s story or choose another time period altogether is still questionable. Within the world Ready at Dawn have been able to create, The Order could become a series similar to Assassin’s Creed. Each new entry could tackle new Order related matters, or perhaps even venture into a further past to expand on the origins of The Order’s creation. The possibilities for new installments within the series are broad, due to such a well-developed world.

The Order Gameplay

I’d love to see Ready at Dawn have another chance at providing a new entry in the series. One that acknowledges the mistakes of the original, improving on what went wrong and fine tuning what succeeded. The Order: 1886 doesn’t lack substance, but it does lack the ability to produce fun and exciting moment to moment gameplay in-between an interesting story. I don’t believe The Order should be praised or hated for what it was able to do, but I do believe this is a solid entry in what could be an entertaining series. New intellectual properties need time to find their feet, and if The Order is nurtured in the correct fashion – “The Order: 1887” could be an amazing game indeed.


Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA, and his videos on YouTube.

6 replies »

  1. Hopefully the inevitable sequel could resolve the various plot threads that were left ambiguous at best. And perhaps explain why their interpretation of Jack The Ripper was murdering prostitutes 2 years prior to his legitimate equivalent? That vexed me terribly for some reason.

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    • That is interesting. There is certainly a lot more to explain about that ending, hopefully they get a chance to do so.

      Like

  2. Great way to look at the game as a whole. I agree that this game has the potential to evolve into a great series. I really hope they do address the missteps and not listen to the blind hate alot of so called gamers had for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alex, glad you enjoyed the piece.

      We have seen a lot of series start with an average title, end up becoming some of the best in gaming. Assassin’s Creed was fine, but nothing amazing, same with Uncharted.

      Hopefully The Order gets a chance and then, we can see what it can deliver when they fix the problems and improve on the positives.

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