Sir Galahad gallivants around a faux-steampunk London, and for the most part it works
As you may realise, this review is a few weeks since the release of Ready at Dawn’s supernatural historic shooter. That’s because I’ve been ruminating on the whole experience. It’s easy to slate The Order 1886 for reasons I’ll move onto soon enough, but no matter how you paint it, Ready At Dawn has made a fun game to play.
Set in a steampunk-esque Victorian London, you take up the role of Sir Grayson Galahad, a Knight in a shady, above-the-law organisation called The Order. The Order, it seems, are based on King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. They’re tasked with keeping any criminal activity, which poses a threat to the Crown, at bay. And somehow this explains why you’ll be fighting lycans, working with Nicolai Tesla, and riding airships.
The Order never asks very much of you, it delves slightly into character stories and touches upon the origins of the aforementioned Lycans. But it does ask that you just accept the alternative universe malarkey, understanding that a United India Company (instead of an East India Company) exists. For someone who’s interested in history, like me, it can be a little hard to swallow without question. Thankfully these factors only add to the setting and less to the actual story.
As The Order is entirely linear and completely driven by story, I won’t delve into details surrounding plot. It isn’t a completely captivating narrative, but it holds up well enough to keep you interested in pushing through the six or so hours of the single-player campaign. It certainly helps that Ready at Dawn opted for a cinematic approach, framing the entire game in Letterbox mode.
While having two great big black borders slapped on your screen sounds annoying, in reality it feels perfectly natural. It also means those having to watch you play feel like they’re watching a film instead of some bloke on a sofa shooting some stuff.
The disassociation from playing a game does shatter somewhat when even the more intuitive weapons feel rather dull after a few uses. And level design isn’t overly smart either, borrowing heavily from the Gears of War school of waist-high cover everywhere approach. But then again when Ready at Dawn’s own Dana Jan says the studio hasn’t been aiming to do anything revolutionary in game design, what should you expect?
Where almost all time has been invested is in The Order’s visuals. I can’t stress enough just how beautiful this game is. There’s no comparison currently available, and it’s a true indication of what a next-gen console can churn out. Light reflects and refracts near photorealistically, and particle effects are just unbelievable. You wouldn’t be able to even dream of a PS3 game looking this good.
It may be down to smart release timing, but The Order: 1886 is a breath of fresh air after a seemingly endless series of open-world titles flooding the PS4. It’s tightly paced, doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and, most importantly, fun. There’s not much more you could ask for.
+ Unbelievably beautiful
+ Great setting and theme
+ Amusing character names
- Gameplay is a little rote
- Can't quite justify the premium price
- Next-gen visuals, last-gen game design