The Order 1886 was the first original IP and also the first full-scale console game by Ready At Dawn, a studio previously charged with making portable spin off versions and HD remasters of big Sony franchises. With The Order presented as one of the major PlayStation 4 exclusives of 2015, expectations were high. But when the game came out, it was widely met with a lukewarm response by critics and gamers. The game seems to have fallen victim to two things: an enormous level of hype and wrong expectations.
The Order is a story heavy game. And story heavy in this case really means story heavy, as the game takes you through a carefully scripted campaign that doesn’t let you stray far from its path. When it comes down to it, it is an uncompromising cinematic experience. It follows its own course and does it with an amount of conviction and polish that really drags you into the game’s universe.
The world is also one of the game’s strongest points, brought to life by the stunning visual presentation, a tangible and thick atmosphere and believable performances of the various characters. The game delivers a solid and intriguing story that keeps you interested all the way to the end, led by a cast of characters with their own ideals, dilemmas and objectives, keeping you questioning which side you are on.
Friend and foe alike will agree on one thing: the graphics of The Order are truly incredible. For a cinematic title like this it certainly helps to get the player soaked up into the gloomy and atmospheric world the developers have constructed. On top of that, the widescreen aspect ratio that the creators opted for helps to accentuate the cinematic experience while giving a sense of breadth, lending a certain weight to each environment.
The art direction in The Order is top notch. The weapons and gadgets you get to use in the course of the game are original but at the same time make sense in the game’s universe. One gun lets you fire an electric charge that packs a powerful punch, while another creates a cloud of gas that can be ignited to create an explosion. Each weapon in the arsenal has its own feel and purpose, with a design that fits really well with the setting of the game. It’s steampunk and high-tech at the same time, simultaneously feeling unique and logical.
In conclusion, The Order is an IP that has a lot of potential. With videogames we often see the best results in the second or even third iteration, when the foundation has been laid and, having identified the different strengths and weaknesses, the creators can then focus on improving each aspect of the game. Meanwhile, the ending of the game leaves things open for a follow-up, and the story and world are interesting enough to be explored further. In short, there’s a solid foundation that can be improved upon, and it’s disappointing to realize this may never happen.