The Order 1886 Review

FP3621-THE-ORDER-1886-key-artI don’t remember when this game was initially released, but I just bought it a few weeks (months?) ago on a PSN flash sale for $8.  I had heard some mixed reviews, but I figured for just $8, what was the harm.  Needing to clear up some space on my PS4, and having heard it was a fairly short, decided to spend a Saturday starting, and finishing it.  Overall, I enjoyed the game, but I do think it is a barometer for what is more important to you in a game, story or gameplay.


The game takes place in, you guessed it, 1886.  Well, at least a version of 1886.  You start out in prison, being tortured.  Eventually, you escape, only to fall off the roof into some water.  And then, poof, the story goes back in time, and you learn how exactly you came to be in that prison.  I’ll give you a hint.  It involves betrayal.  Lots and lots of betrayal. 

The flashback starts, and you find that you are part of, wait for it, The Order.  The title of the game has been fully explained.  Now you can rest easy.  I kid, I kid.  It’s really a nice idea.  The Order are the Knights of the Round Table.  You are playing the part of Galahad.  Well, kind of.  You’re not the actual Galahad from the story of King Arthur.  You’re name is actually Grayson.  As we learn later in the game after the death of a knight, the name is actually passed down from one to another on the occasion of a knight’s death.

I love that idea.  But there’s another catch.  Upon becoming a knight, you receive a vial that will contain what they call “black water.”  Each Knight has their own vial.  When they are first knighted, the vial is filled with water from the grail.  After drinking that water, they then add some of their own blood to the vial.  This vial will heal a knight’s wounds, and also extends their life.  It’s not unreasonable for a knight to have been serving for centuries.  The rumor goes that the Lord Chancellor fought alongside Arthur.

the order 1886 screenshot

Also, when you open up in this new world, it’s immediately clear that this isn’t the London that really exists.  There’s a communicator on your shoulder.  A communicator.  And apparently, it’s not even the first model of the communicator.  You see an older version down in Tesla’s lab.  Yes, Tesla is your tech/gadget guy.  It’s no worse than Leonardo Da Vinci being the gadget guy in Assassain’s Creed 2.  But it’s all good.  Tesla is a developed character here, and they even add in some shots at Thomas Eddison.

In this version of London, we know there’s a rebellion going on that is based in Whitechapel.  (Side note, I kept thinking to myself that there wasn’t a rebellion going on in Whitechapel the last time I was there with Jacob and Evie.)  We don’t really know why there’s a rebellion, but there are some hints.  What I was able to piece together by the end of the game is that it may not have been a rebellion, but rather just another group fighting the Lycans and Vampires.

Wait a second.  The what?  Lycans and vampires?  Yes, you read that correctly.  There are lycans, which is just really a fancy word for werewolf, and vampires in this game.  The East India Trading Company is also in this game. And they’re evil.  Of course, you don’t learn that they’re evil until about 2/3 of the way into the game. But what better way to spread the vampire scourge around the world than with  a trading company?

The Order: 1886_20150219160209

But why would The Order, this group of honorable and dedicated knights be helping this evil company?  Well, obviously, The Order doesn’t know that they’re evil.  Or do they?  I did mention a betrayal earlier. So yes, someone at or near the top of The Order and the larger Council know exactly what is going on.  But I’ll leave that spoiler out.  Just know, that you are betrayed.

Overall, I kind of think this is possibly the general aesthetic that the Van Helsing movie (you know, that terrible one with Wolverine) was going for and would have benefited from.  It has the atmosphere.  It has the mythical intrigue.  It has the action.  It has everything you want in a story, except a tidy ending.

The story is going along just fine.  You uncover secrets that the secrets of your betrayal were carrying.  There are multiple people responsible for your betrayal, you take out one of them, learn a secret that could topple The Order, are no longer a knight, and then boom.  You run into a large brick wall of a cliffhanger.  Wait, that’s a terrible analogy.  How about this?  You’re just strolling along, enjoying the story, then go all Wile E. Coyote and fall to your doom, because the land is no longer beneath you.

To say that there are some dangling plot threads left unresolved would be an understatement.  First off, one of the knights you’ve been fighting alongside still thinks you’re a traitor and rebel scum, and has made it her mission to kill you.  Secondly, the other evil guy that was part of your betrayal is still free doing his thing.  There could have been another 2-3 hours on this game, easily.  Or some DLC that continues this story.  Instead, there’s nothing.  It just seems like a setup for a sequel.

The gameplay is okay.  It’s a bunch of taking cover, shooting, taking cover, shooting, taking cover, reloading, shooting, running out of ammo, and scrambling to find more ammo until eventually no more bad guys show up.  Or, no more lycans are charging at you.  It’s the same thing over and over, with the occasional stealth or sniper bit thrown in occasionally.

And this is why I think it’s a barometer of what you want in a game.  The fighting is pretty simplistic.  The gun fights weren’t exactly fun.  Might they have been more challenging had I not played the game on easy?  Of course, but that’s not what I look for in a game.  I want the story.  So, I make it easy, mow down all of the mindless henchmen just so I can get to the next bit of story.  I think that’s why this game works so much for me.  I don’t care about the fighting bits, and just care about the story bits.

The order 1886 screenshot 2

However, if you’re someone sees cut scenes as just a bridge to get from one action bit to the next action bit, then I can easily imagine why you may not like this game.  And I wouldn’t blame you for having a negative opinion.  It’s just that I don’t share that opinion.

I thought it was nice to have a very linear game.  I don’t want everything to be open world.  Sometimes I just want to progress through the story, and not be taken out of it just because I have to traverse to that area.  Or not have to worry about my gear being too low of a level for the next area. Yes, sometimes side quests are nice, but does it make sense story-wise that instead of saving Hyrule, you’re trying to find bugs for a girl?  Or instead of dealing with the dragons, you decide to become a thief, and then an assassin.

Overall, I really liked this game, but I do wish there was another few hours of story to go through.  If you too like story driven games and can find this on the cheap, then I really suggest that you give this game a go.  If you’re looking for a nice shooter, then this game is probably not for you.


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