The story of King Arthur and his knights is a familiar story in popular culture , although its legitimacy is often debated. But what if King Arthur and his Knights were real and their influence carried on throughout the ages? The Order: 1886 takes this as its inspiration, as the legendary figures continue to be protectors of the realm. This story is told in an extremely unique and stylish way, and regardless of its length, is easily one of my favorite games to be released this year.
Ready at Dawn is known for mostly working on ports of popular titles, such as the Wii version of Okami and God of War: Origins Collection on PS3, as well as some PSP God of War games. The Order: 1886 is the developer's first foray into a completely new property, which is quite ambitious as it looks to rewrite history where humans and half-breeds are continually at war.
Knights of the Round Table
The Order: 1886 takes place during an alternate universe in a neo-victorian London where an old order or knights fight to keep the world safe from half-breed monsters like Lycans. For centuries, humans and half-breeds have fought one another. The beasts often gained the upper hand due to their animal strength, but the tides changed when the Order discovered a substance known as Blackwater. Rich with healing properties, it increases the strength, and prolongs the life of those who ingest it. By the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution gave humans a greater chance of winning the war as engineers were able to invent technologies way in advance that includes Zeppelins, thermal imaging, and wireless communication.
Players assume the role of Grayson, who bears the title Sir Galahad, and has battled the order’s enemies for centuries. Grayson and the order are not only fighting the half-breed threat, but they’re also fighting rebel forces who appear to be collaborating with the half-breeds. Grayson and his squad hopes to learn the truth about what exactly is going on between the order and the rebels.
Ready at Dawn put a lot of work behind The Order’s setting, cast of characters, and its backstory and it shows when you’re playing the game. The story is told through the eyes of Grayson and there’s even more told through the use of story-based items that can be picked up and manipulated, such as newspapers, phonograph cylinders, and random pieces of papers. Even though the replay value of The Order is quite limited, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and learning about the detailed world the studio constructed.
Fans of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series will feel right at home when playing The Order: 1886. The game is a third-person shooter that features the ability to use cover and use situational melee combat to pummel your opponents against nearby obstacles, or simply bash them in the temple with your knee. Grayson is able to access a sidearm, a primary weapon, and two grenades during combat. The weapons at his disposal range from typical 19th century firearms to science fiction weapons that are based off of Nikola Tesla’s inventions, who just so happens to be working for the order.
The line between cinematic segments and in-game are extremely blurred in The Order, making for a more cinematic experience. I was usually unable to spot when the game would change from one to the other. There were a number of times when I was playing that I was late to jump back into the game as I was unaware I was able to control Grayson again, and I’m sure this will happen to others more often than not. In fact, I believe Ready at Dawn’s RAD Engine 4.0 easily beats the Naughty Dog Engine.
Similar to Uncharted, The Order: 1886 also has interactive cut-scenes that are a mix of quick-time events, button mashing, and other moments where you’ll need to give input that isn’t directly controlled through normal gameplay. I found the mix between QTE and actual gameplay to be balanced, as long as you count the moments when Grayson is walking around and not shooting rebels or half-breeds. When comparing actual combat versus QTE, then it certainly feels like there’s more of these events than there are enemies to shoot.
Speaking of enemies, there isn’t much variety in who you’ll be fighting as you’ll either be going up against rebels or half-breeds. There are a handful of variants of rebels to combat that range from snipers, shotgunners, to those who use more advanced weaponry. Half-breeds, on the other hand, use their speed and strength to attempt to take Grayson down.
Quality Over Quantity
The Order's alleged length has come under scrutiny before release, after a YouTube user published a set of walkthrough videos that only lasted approximately 5 hours to complete the game. In my time with The Order, I did find it a bit on the short side--I finished in under 10 hours--but I felt utterly satisfied. I'd rather play a fantastic 10 hours rather than a mediocre 20. That time was spent experiencing a thoroughly enjoyable story, and left plenty of room for exploring items and collectibles that round out the world.
The Order: 1886 feels like the perfect balance between story, gameplay, and atmosphere as Ready at Dawn has struck gold with its first attempt at an original IP. There may not be much to do after the credits begin to roll, but once they do, you’ll be met with a unique story told within an absolutely gorgeous game.