The Order 1886: PS4 Review
Studio: Ready At Dawn
Platform: PS4 Exclusive
Ready At Dawn's first original IP for the PlayStation shows a lot of impressive features.
It's a big step up from Daxter and the God Of War series on the PSP and it really does represent something a little bit different for the console in many ways.
And then unfortunately, in some other ways, it feels simply like some of that promise has been squandered in favour of technical adeptness and luscious graphics.
The third person shooter centres on an alternative world where steampunk is more of a reality than people in Oamaru would believe (the NZ steampunk capital of the world).
It's London in erm, 1886, and you control Sir Galahad, one of an order of knights who maintain the status quo within the world.
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But as you join the game, things are at a crossroads with humans in conflict with half-breeds and rebels disrupting matters. As Galahad investigates further though, it appears not everything is as black and white as it first appears...
Let's get this out of the way first of all, The Order 1886 is in some ways a game changer for the PS4.
Beautiful graphics, wondrous cut scenes and some truly stunning visual moments light up the screen. In fact the highest definition TV you can find to play this on is clearly going to give you the best experience of The Order 1886. And the key word there is experience.
Ready at Dawn has made no secret of the fact they wished to make The Order 1886 a singularly immersive experience when they visited New Zealand on a press tour. And I don't have a problem with that - I really don't. Especially when such eye-popping visuals as the streets of London spring to life with grime, fog and grit as the Zeppelins pass by in the air. Efforts have been made to ensure the veracity of the time and the feel are all excellently executed.
Though it has to be said, it comes at some of the expense of the overall gameplay.
Roaming through the Victorian streets as you have to becomes a crimped experience, as interaction with others is extremely limited. While the attention to detail is superb (you get to pick up pictures, examine them, flip them over) this is only in place when it needs to be. Walking up to people on the street will garner no response from them - it's something akin to being part of a live waxworks museum where the statues stop working the moment you head over to them. And it's a shame as early on in the game, there's plenty of need to walk from section to section.
Mixed in with various Quick Time Events in cut scenes, you will gradually get a feeling of creeping frustration building up and threatening to bubble over at times. Though that's tempered with the fact the game looks so gorgeous and the scenes transition seamlessly from one moment to the next that you really need to be on your toes for the moment you need to spring into action.
In terms of the game itself, it's a basic third person shooter in a lot of places, with some fairly repetitive dialogue coming out in combat (I lost count of the number of times Galahad shouted out loud that he needed to reload) and some fairly impressive weaponry making up for something that we've seen before.
It's also incredibly short for running time given its cost. Which sounds like a quality over quantity kind of complaint but given that it's a fairly pricey exclusive, there will be some who are put off by this. Though there will also be some who will feel that the look of the game is also a big bonus. By comparison, it feels a little like Beyond Two Souls in that it offers much visually, but less by way of interaction.
Overall, The Order 1886 is a game that here's for a good-looking time, not a long time.
I'd be happy to dive back into the world of Galahad and his knights, but I'd hope Ready At Dawn maybe do a little more next time around to open up the world and give us the freedom to play rather than just experience it all.