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The Order 1886 Review
This isn’t the Industrial Revolution you read about in school. Nor is this the fantasy-laden lycan and vampire London. The Order 1886 gives us something different entirely and the times when it delivers, it really delivers.
After centuries of war between humans and the monsters known as half-breeds, the humans are finally getting the edge thanks to the technological boost made possible by the Industrial Revolution. Constant war has accelerated the growth in technology especially in the area of weaponry. The central protagonist, Galahad, is a Knight in the Order, an organization created centuries ago primarily to protect the people from half-breeds. Despite this, there really isn’t a lot of monster slaying to be had. Most of the gun battles are between the Knights and the rebels. The latter of which are just people who've grown tired of the monarchy and wants desperately an uprising. As a Knight, your allegiance is to the queen.
The story is pieced together mostly through dialogue as the individual personalities and relationships within the Order come out through the truly exceptional cutscenes. Occasionally audio clips can be found hidden in certain areas which give insight to the universe the game takes place. The game does not spell out the story for you so paying attention to these small details is crucial for understanding the curves in the plot.
The gun battles are passable and feature a very basic cover and shoot system which, although works, takes no chances and delivers nothing new. On the few occasions when Galahad actually does fight off half-breeds, the altercations feel mechanical and uneventful. It consists of pumping the charging beasts full of lead until they either fall or pounce. If they get close enough, the game prompts the player to hit “X” to dodge the attack and the lycan will harmlessly walk right by you and start his pattern all over again like a batter hitting a foul ball and returning to home plate. It gives the whole situation a very artificial and non-threatening feel. Stealth scenes have you stalking guards while taking cover behind hedges or waiting around corners. It is not a whole lot you haven’t seen but it is a change in gameplay and does add an almost horror-like tension.
Galahad is not an amazing acrobat or gymnast. You will not be tumbling from cover to cover during a gun fight like Nathan Drake nor will swinging from chandeliers be required. Aside from taking multiple gun shots before going down, his physical limitations border on the realistic. He does however move fluidly and can really haul when in danger. When falling in battle Galahad can reach for the blackwater (a quick-healing elixir) all the Knights keep around their necks and will rise to occasion to fight once more. When under such heavy fire, however, more often than not Galahad will be shot dead before recovering. Galahad can carry two guns: a main weapon and a side arm, as well as frag grenades and smoke grenades. This is standard enough but the game would have benefited from a separate grenade button instead of having to choose them from the inventory only to throw one and then having to switch back to your main weapon. Running is done by pressing down the left joystick (L3) which is not comfortable when pushing it forward; it could have just as easily been a face button.
The presentation is gorgeous and the cinematics are practically without flaw. It is a rarity to see stunning visuals and skillful acting work together in such harmony the way they do in the Order 1886. London is as grey as one may have always imagined when reading Blake; observing the surroundings will paint a picture of the desperation of a big city coming to life. Prostitution is a common theme as life away from the Order puts the game in context. Fans of history and science will appreciate the rather big role Edison rival Nikola Tesla plays in helping the Order by developing new weapons and gadgets. In addition, a famous London serial killer will come up on occasion. Be sure to keep an eye out. The violence is violent. Seeing a larynx ripped out by a half-breed or getting shot through the skull when stepping out of the shadows during a stealth mission actually left me thinking, “I don’t want to make that mistake again.”
The Order 1886’s biggest sin is the length. Expect it to be somewhere in the ballpark of 5-7 hours. This is worsened by the fact that it has no online or local multiplayer which is a shame because a co-op mode would have a lot of potential. It would be smart to wait for a price drop before purchase.
The Order 1886 is a game of fantastic sights and detail but the flaws are present and they will constantly be tapping your shoulder. Much more could have been done with the gameplay to make it an all-around more satisfying experience but I certainly would not be turned off to the idea of a sequel as long as the potential is met.