Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room, first up. No, The Order 1886 is not a long game. But is that all which defines the Order 1886? What about the beautiful and immersive experiences, and the excellently thought out stories. And what about Werewolves and Vampires? Yes, vampires.
(-) Short Order?
Since all we have talked and heard about is the length of The Order 1886, let’s get into it. I finished the main story in a little over 6 hours, spread out into 2 sittings. Multiple 15-30 minutes sittings later, I had achieved every collectible the game had to offer, along with the platinum trophy. This effectively clocks the complete experience to around 8-9 hours. The Order 1886 is a one time experience, and there is little reason to replay the entire game once you have finished the story once. There isn’t a multiplayer component to the game either. For most gamers, this would be a deal breaker at the price of Rs. 3499.
(-) Wanting for more?
The real problem I have with The Order 1886 though, is not after how long it ended, but rather how it ended. The story is excellent and well thought out. Up until the final chapter, the game had done an excellent job of weaving an interesting story. There were loose ends, enough mystery and a surprise inclusion of vampires that had piqued my interest. But when the final scene hit, and it dawned on me that this was the end of the game, I felt cheated. So many questions unanswered, so many fates unexplained, so many threads just left hanging. If anything the game’s story was at the halfway mark when it ended.
Whatever you do get of the story though, is most pleasant. It mixes the historical events during the Revolt of 1857, with the concepts of Arthur’s circle of knights and the lore of werewolves and vampires smoothly into a Victorian London, which is easily recognisable. While for most gamers around the world, the story would hold little consequence; for an Indian gamer playing in a campaign which ties in with the history of my country was intriguing. Lord Hastings, is a prime character in the story, and so is Rani Laxmi Bai. (I hope they announce a DLC where I can play as her.) Sir Galahad, Layfeyette, Percival, Igrane and even Lucan are likeable characters and you mostly understand the motives behind their actions. Sir Galahad especially creates an aura of a Bad-Ass Purist and is someone whom you can get behind as the game progresses.
(+) How a Knight Rolls
Possibly the second most talked about topic when it comes to The Order 1886. Most of the gameplay in The Order 1886 is 3rd person over the shoulder shooter. Something which most gamers are used to, by playing Dead Space and most notably, Gears Of War. Stealth kills, melee attacks and cover mechanics are all dynamics which are conveniently picked up and put into place in The Order 1886. It’s not as if any of this gameplay is poorly implemented, it’s just that it’s not something new; and as the PS4 exclusive headline, it was supposed to push the envelope.
There are times, when the game mixes it up. Especially when you are fighting the werewolves. These are the sequences where The Order 1886 really shines. Mixing button mashing with Quick Time Events, the game sets up a tense face-off with grizzly wolf monsters. But here again, nothing new is invented and the novelty comes from the aesthetics of the encounter rather than the gameplay.
Also, halfway through the story, when you discover that Vampires also find a place in the game, you begin to wonder why none of your fights involved one. And as the credit rolls, that feeling of getting half a products starts sinking in.
(-) What’s a Knight to do?
The devs of the game had famously said that the game includes no filler. Which is true to a certain extent. There is no meta skill tree, there is no upgrading of weapons, and there are no inconsequential side quests. Whatever you are doing in the game, all the time, is progressing your story, whether you like it or not.
The down side of that is that there is not a lot to do in The Order 1886 apart from the story. Your exploration of the wonderfully realized Victorian London is limited to a few by lanes and some underground tunnels. The open world nature is sacrificed for a more cohesive linear story telling experience, which might act as a deterrent to most gamers. The parts of London which you can explore and interact with though are detailed and beautiful.
The game does offer 4 different kinds of collectibles. But strangely enough, only one of them is track-able in game. Getting the actual collectibles though is not a tough job, as you can revisit each chapter scene by scene at your own convenience once you have finished the game. I strongly recommend using an online guide, as its easy to miss some of them.
(+) A Knight’s Shining Armour
I experienced no bugs on my playthrough of The Order 1886, which is an achievement when you look at some other horrid first day launches (**cough cough** Ubisoft **cough cough**). I did’t run into invisible walls. The textures were consistent throughout, and the frame rate never actually dropped enough for me to notice. Whatever of The Order 1886 is presented, is finely polished.
I also appreciated the trophy system that The Order 1886 has put into place. There are no story related trophies but one. All the other trophies are all skill related or collectibles. None of them though are too tough though, and it encourages you to try different weapons, take more head shots, and use the Black sight ability more often than you normally would.
The weapons too, are of a diverse variety. I especially liked the Thermite gun, which first shoots a powder of inflammable metal and then actually lights them up with a hot metal slug. The silent crossbow is another excellent weapon, making stealth kills fun. It’s a shame that I got to use them far less rarely than the normal run of the mill carbine.
The Knight’s decree
The Order 1886 is an excellent game. As excellent as half a game could be. Once you have played the game, it’s difficult not too feel that you have been ripped off. The feeling is even more severe when you consider that you actually the enjoyed the time when you were in the game. No acts seemed to stretch on forever, and every scene seemed perfectly paced. It just felt like the complete game acted as a prologue to the DLCs and the sequels that Ready At Dawn had in mind.
I wish The Order 1886 had some free DLCs in mind. Wrapping up the story proper, and extending/completing the experience that their customers have invested into. February and March are a cold month though, so I would imagine buying The Order 1886 would not be a complete waste of money. Especially if you are an Indian gamer, it would be nice to see something focused on Indian history.