Not many games give away the premise of the game but The Order 1886 doesn’t shy away from that. Developed by the folks at “Ready at Dawn” and “SCE Santa Monica Studio”, this game retails exclusively on the PlayStation 4. Back at Gamestart Asia 2014, I managed to a hands-on session with the game at that point which featured the main character Galahad a knight fighting against the Lycans. There was praise showered on its technical capabilities, it’s graphics, smooth transitioning of cut scenes and gameplay. Action was fluid. Naturally, I was anticipating its full release to really dive into the world of alternative London to experience its world and its lore. How does the full game hold up? Let’s find out together.
Set in an anachronistic London of old times, you are placed into the shoes of the main character Galahad who happens to be a knight of the round table. Just that knights carry very different weapons in such a day and time. Not to be mistaken as a medieval game, you actually wield automatic weapons like pistols, rifles and the designers do get creative with some of these weapons. Politically speaking and setting the premise of the story, King Arthur will gather what support he can to deal with the Lycan issue.
Inspired by steampunk literature lore and design, character models shine and carry the intended environment with accurate precision here. The opening sequence takes you to a prison where the main character is tortured. Little is explained about his background or why he is there. However, the story does flash back to a time where Galahad was a respectable knight, prior to his arrest. He was one who fought to maintain control and order, peace between humans and half breeds. For those wondering, half-breeds or Lycans are werewolf type shape shifters whom you do encounter in battle from time to time.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about the environment for a while. The downright gorgeous environment blends fiction with reality as you thread through the game slowly. I found myself stopping and walking slower to admire the scenery during the exploratory segments of the game. You could tell that the game designers really put in effort to bring out the character of the game not simply copying and pasting assets. The voice acting in the game is simply spot on as the characters draw you in with their dialogue and the people in the world. The game does let you interact briefly with the environment, objects in an attempt to draw you into the culture and tone.
The gameplay mechanic itself is rather simple. Largely the game is a third-person over the shoulder type of shooter inspired by predecessors such as uncharted, gears or war and many other cover shooters before it. You run and move from place to place with linearity and use cover around you to take out waves of enemies. Most of the enemies would pummel you with sheer numbers but the game does give you a variety of weapons to work with. Some of them are a pure joy to use. The Arc gun that fires a charge of electricity at your foes and the Thermite gun which fire a dust cloud of termite that can be ignited in flames to burn the surrounding groups of enemies. The firing mechanics include a bullet time stoppage which some of you might be familiar with inspired from splinter cell that lets you take out your foes. Although, I must bemoan that there were not many sequences that required the player to really use that. Most Lycan battles required a player to dodge an attack before firing at them and then a short quick time event to end the battle. While, there’s nothing wrong with the mechanics and it works for the most part, the order 1886 plays it a little too safe for my liking here as it struggles to innovate gameplay. On the contrary, if it isn’t broke then perhaps one shouldn’t try too hard to fix it and hence the debate between what needs fixing and when is it the right time to try something new. My gripe however comes from having to deal with too many quick time events which were neither fun nor interesting at some points. There were times that I felt like I was playing an interactive book like the tell tales walking dead or heavy rain. Cinematically, the game does phase the player in and out of cut scenes and blends into gameplay quite well.
The Order 1886 is a hit and miss experience. It’s deeply immersive world is unashamed at taking it’s time to let the player experience the world. However, given its linearity, it does leave you wishing that you could freely roam around. The voice acting is extremely high in quality and keeps you interested. Gameplay tends to phase between talking, walking, shooting portions and has a habit of repeating itself. Lycans were tougher to take down compared to human hordes and waves. They would usually pounce on you requiring an action button dodge and fire approach before delivering a fatal blow through its heart.
My play through of the game took me about 5 hours to complete. It isn’t the longest of single player games around but as the developers mentioned, they wanted the player to experience quality over quantity. Hopefully we’ll see more DLCs in the future as I’m very keen to revisit old London one more time. If steampunk is your style and you’re a fan of old England science fiction fantasy, you might want to check this out on the PlayStation 4. The Order 1886 is available in stores now.
Stay tuned to POPCulture Online as we check out the premium edition figurine of The Order 1886, coming to you shortly.
Ratings: 3.5 out of 5 stars
by Kenneth Choong
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