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The Order: 1886 Game preview

Game preview 17 December 2014, 13:30

author: Kristian Smoszna

The Order: 1886 Hands On - Cinematic experience on PS4

Most videos from The Order: 1886 showed that the game, although visually stunning, is heavily scripted. A 30 minutes demo that Ready at Dawn studio showed us, confirmed that The Order really is such a closed experience.

This article was written prior to the game's release.

This text was based on the PS4 version.

In the last year PS4 owners weren't too spoiled by Sony, at least when it comes to exclusive games. There were however a few exclusive titles, but surely they weren't system sellers, that encouraged to buy the, now, year-old console. The upcoming months look drastically different. In later autumn, the eagerly awaited Uncharted 4 hits store shelves and before that we will get to try Bloodborne. Also, there are many who get their hopes up for The Order 1886 - a tale set in Victorian era England, set to be released in mid-February. For a long time we've been fed various clips from the game, and its high time to try out the final product. We got a glimpse of the game thanks to a 30 minute demo in which we could experience the one of the chapters of knight orderís saga, involving protecting humanity from ruthless monsters.

The demo starts with the members of the order getting on board in a spectacular fashion.

The aforementioned demo takes place on the Agamemmnon zeppelin, which floats above London. It is worth mentioning that the game offers an alternative version of historic events, so we shouldnít be surprised that there are zeppelins in the year 1886. The Order has nothing to do with recreating history Ė the game is intended to tell a tale that borders on fantasy, and the creators indulge in it in various ways. However, letís get back to our airborne heroes. Sir Gallahad and his brave team, have several mission objectives to complete on-board the zeppelin. Firstly, the knights secure the pilotís cabin, to take control of the flying machine, and then, engage in an uneven combat with rebels trying to assassinate a plot-wise important character.

The Order features minigames, as if the developers wanted to remind us that itís still a game.

In itsí first moments The Order shows us itís true colours Ėitís a game that is incomprehensibly filled with scripts. The gameplay in fact, is just an addition to the story, in which the gamer never gets full control of Gallahandís abilities and canít complete the set objectives in his/ hers own way. The developers decide upon absolutely everything. They decide which places we visit and they unlock the weapons we will use, when the shooting starts. Controlling our character resembles taking a dog for a walk, seen through the eyes of our pet. We may be able to move in any direction we want to, but we canít get too far away, as we our bound by linearity. The game by Ready at Dawn, doesnít allow us to explore in a conventional way Ė we are only to walk along narrow corridors, or roam around very restricted spaces Ė when guns come into play.

Sir Gallahad Ė the mustache was obligatory.

The scripts are both a blessing and a curse of The Order 1886. It is worth praising how the developers made the transition from gameplay to cutscenes running on the game engine fluent and seamless. Sometimes itís hard to know if we are already playing, or if we are still a spectator of the cinematic parts of the tale. Despite a large amount of cutscenes, we canít rest easy, as throughout the magnificent cutscenes, often can we experience quick time events, on which our companionsí, or our own, lives might depend. The game is quite brutal when it comes to punishing us for failure at such times. If we happen to fail a QTE sequence, we instantly die, and the entire section has to be replayed again. Although, checkpoints are quite numerous, so it wonít be that irritating.

Sadly, the omnipresent scripts reveal an obvious flaw of the game, which could have been noticed from the beginning of the demo. While sneaking on-board the zeppelin, we get to pass a pair of guards. Patiently we listen in on their conversation, wait for them to finish, walk thorough the only corridor possible to get near them, to silently execute the first one, and then the second. Upon reloading the checkpoint, Iíve repeated the sequence. This time around Iíve ignored the conversation, and went straight through to the opponents in a matter of seconds. When I arrived next to the guards, I found to my surprise, that the guards are apart. Instead, they were on pre-defined patrol routes, that, needless to say, are always the same. An invisible trigger has simply activated the next script when traversing the corridor, and has teleported the opponent to the pre-defined spot. It is also worth mentioning that in stealthy sections, the enemies can only be slain with a knife, when we get close to them. Gallahad carries around quite an arsenal, but he canít simply shoot someone in the face. On the other hand, we canít escape either, if we are spotted Ė the enemy instantly pulls out their own firearm and takes a deadly shot. We witness the same QTE after failing a silent assassination Ė which looks very cheap gameplay-wise.

Deathís kitchen.

In a later section of the demo we get to shoot a bit Ė of course, only when the game allows us to. Gallahad can both stick to covers, and change his position to eliminate enemies with various tools of destruction Ė even smoke grenades. Unsurprisingly, the amount of the baddies is scripted, so after clearing an area, we carelessly can march on to the next location, to take on a next round of bad guys. Those sections however, are a welcome addition after the stealth sections, as here we have any, if heavily limited, freedom. The shooting mechanic itself is done well, and luckily the opponents donít walk mindlessly into our line of sight Ė they try to take advantage of the surroundings, to fire from a safer spot.

Shooting is a welcome change from the limiting stealth sections.

On the visual side, the game is exquisite. The animations are top-notch, as seen not only in the meticulously crafted cutscenes, but in the gameplay segments as well. The effect is spoiled a bit by the black stripes on the sides of the screen, but lowering the resolution is said to be intentional Ė as to provide a more cinematic feeling. I donít believe that and honestly think that in full HD, the console wouldnít be able to process such richness we get to see on-screen, but letís turn a blind eye to that Ė itís not that annoying, and the final effect is jaw-dropping. The faded colours of the setting fit in perfectly with the grain and blur effects. Thanks to those, the world in The Order: 1886 looks Ďoldí enough, corresponding with the setting and the times. The applied filters emphasize the suggestive atmosphere of the tale.

The attention that was given to the details is simply mind-blowing.

The demo of The Order: 1886 was short, but managed to tell us a lot about the game Ė without a doubt, the previously described features will make their way to other levels. The developers didnít want to give the players freedom, but focused more on a spectacular experience. Undoubtedly they have succeeded in that Ė as the game by Ready at Dawn looks phenomenal. However, when we dig deeper in the mechanics, we will see palpable flaws, especially when repeating certain sections of the game. It depends on Your individual preferences whether You will enjoy such a cinematic experience or not Ė but if you are looking for a game like The Last of Us, You might be greatly disappointed. I will certainly give the game a chance, despite being certain that it will be a short and a one-time adventure. The same as it was with The Walking Dead by Telltale. However all those things didnít stop the game from being fun, did they?

Kristian Smoszna | Gamepressure.com

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