fri 18/09/2020

The Order: 1886 | reviews, news & interviews

The Order: 1886

The Order: 1886

Steampunk Victorian London shooter fails to engage

'The Order: 1886': Gallons of atmosphere, but where's the game?

In terms of atmosphere, The Order: 1886 wins out in spades. It's just everywhere else that it falls down, unfortunately.

Sneaking through the Ripper-stalked streets of an alternative Victorian Whitechapel, you can almost smell the stink of the slums. And certainly this matches the recent Assassin's Creed: Unity for the detailed and fetid depiction of dirty, litter-strewn cobbled streets. It's moments like this that The Order does excellently.

In terms of atmosphere, The Order: 1886 wins out in spades. It's just everywhere else that it falls down, unfortunately.

Sneaking through the Ripper-stalked streets of an alternative Victorian Whitechapel, you can almost smell the stink of the slums. And certainly this matches the recent Assassin's Creed: Unity for the detailed and fetid depiction of dirty, litter-strewn cobbled streets. It's moments like this that The Order does excellently.

Another high point is when the zeppelin you're on board crashes into Crystal Palace (about 50 years early, but never mind), and you stagger out of the flaming wreckage – only surviving as you're a nigh-on immortal knight from a shadowy order, named after Arthurian legends and allied to crown, country and increasingly Empire.

The Order 1886 - Gears Of War meets Victorian London SteampunkSadly, these sepia-tinged moments of Victorian atmosphere, and the political machinations leading to them (with pleasing shades of Alan Moore's comics) are few and far between from a game that looks lavish, but is utterly lazy in design.

The game is already being criticised by many for being too short. But it's not its lack of length that's the issue – it's the fact the stuff it does in that time is so dull. It's almost as if some marketing wonk asked for "Gears Of War, only with a different setting".

The run-and-cover arena combat of that series is at least efficiently replicated, down to the bit where if you have to get hit too many times you have to crawl to safety to recover. (Other utterly average tropes stolen from other games include lock-picking and hacking mini-games – yes, hacking in the Victorian age). The real problem is that the game hardly ever lets you loose in those arenas with the nice guns.

The Order 1886 - Gears Of War meets Victorian London SteampunkInstead you're forced to trudge (literally – you walk slowly most of the time), through generic cut-scenes, pointless press-a-button-now "quicktime events" and endless empty rooms you can search to get a pointless non-plot point tidbit if you can be bothered.

A lot of money seems to have been spent on the sets – acres of mansion rooms and warehouse courtyards and mouldering alleyways, intricately detailed – yet they get used for so little. And too little money has been spent on the play – clearly generic in approach, it's doled out in mean-spirited measures and the "boss" battles when they come are rubbish and repeat themselves.

There are already screengrabs circulating on the internet showing how absolutely identical the multiple "boss" battles you have with the werewolves that crop up are. The developers didn't have time, or couldn't be bothered, to come up with more than one "here comes the big fight" idea. And it's clear, from a similarly rushed and rubbish ending, that this is the first in a franchise – even the name is configured for that eventuality. Next up, The Order: 1887 no doubt. And perhaps the rush to get the setting and visuals right left too little this time round for plotting, script, level design etc.

On this showing, the next game will need to be a lot better to be worth going near.

A shadowy order, named after Arthurian legends and allied to crown, country and increasingly Empire...

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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