Even with a Victorian London setting, with all its secrets and adventures, The Order: 1886 fails to rekindle the charm of a bygone era
When word of this Sony exclusive reached me, my ears perked up. The setting looked fantastic: Knights of the roundtable (of King Arthur’s circular meeting room fame!) exploring Victorian London with innovative weapons to hunt down supernatural forces and restore order in Her Majesty’s lands. It hit all the right checkmarks when it comes to assembling the right ingredients. Was I too eager in my anticipation of a gun-slinging Wild Wild West metropolitan action? Maybe. After all, despite the right ingredients, an unskilled chef can make an absolute mess of a meal, and that’s what’s abundantly evident in the The Order: 1886’s execution.
I have to admit it – I actually nodded off while playing this game, and no it didn’t happen due to exhaustion at the end of a tiring Saturday night. The game tries to shock and awe its audience with a torture scene inside a dimly lit prison catacomb, much like Zero Dark Thirty tried to do with its graphic opening torture sequences. The game’s predictable nature is established from here and then it all gets progressively worse. Within the first couple of hours, the game’s pace is incredibly slow, punctuated by yawn-inducing quick-time events and pathetically drab plot disclosures. There’s nothing new here, something that would grab you by the scruff of the neck and hold your attention. The Order acts and behaves with as much excitement as a Public Works Dept. crew assigned to fix potholes on the road before the onset of monsoon. Dull and boring.
There’s very little for you to do in the game that you haven’t done before. At times the game seems to be a string of cinema-grade cut-scenes punctuated by intermittent third-person action. No complaints about the cut-scenes – I think they’re the highlight of the game, it’s the only thing that keeps you somewhat interested in the plot, as the developer tries to show off its bells and whistles through them. In a similar vein, I’ll be lying if I didn’t say that this game’s art department deserves a lot of credit for passing the job of recreating Victorian London, character models, props, and other embellishments that these eyes can validate as visual treats. Even the voice-acting for the game’s characters is surprisingly good, another technical aspect of the game that registers on your brain and subtly keeps it engaged and engrossed. But that’s about it when it comes to recounting this game’s highlights, which it doesn’t have an abundance of, unfortunately. Who would’ve hazarded that guess before the game’s launch, eh? What a pity!
The game’s biggest mistake is that it doesn’t let players do a whole lot – not even allowing them to engage in a tough fight scene, for example, as all gun battles in the game seem far too choreographed and end much too soon. As a result, despite encountering a young Tesla’s industrious genius and being showered with innovative weapons and ammunition, the joy of battle is far too brief to derive any pleasure from. Cover shooting mechanics aren’t new, and killing hordes of enemies is surprisingly easy, except for a few bad guys. The enemy AI isn’t given an overwhelming chance to prove its smartness, probably because it isn’t smart to begin with. And you don’t feel challenged enough to bring on your A-game, which further contributes towards lost interest in the game. Even if you wanted to, there’s not much to do on the streets of Victorian London which adds further insult to injury – the city’s a ghost town. I know this game takes creative liberties to present an alternative history of 19th century London, but to think it was completely devoid of inhabitants is a bit too much, no? Games like Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry are different than The Order 1886 in the sense that they feel more alive, more real, more engaging.
VERDICT THE ORDER: 1886
I can go on and on, but it’s not worth it. The Order 1886’s self-inflicted tragedy is truly sad, especially the promise it holds. Think of the possibilities a game would’ve offered where you play a knight of an ancient order, tasked to cleanse a medieval city of werewolves and vampires, with a class of weaponry far superior than Van Helsing and James Bond ever could’ve imagined (what else do you expect when you have Nikola Tesla as your armorer?). Whatever you’ve imagined, alas The Order is not that game. But maybe it’s time to revisit Hellgate: London!
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