I really, really wanted to love The Order 1886. I wanted to love it since the the games was revealed at E3 in 2013. Sadly, the game falters in every category other than visuals.
The Order 1886 was sold with a narrative conceit that was both original and compelling. The Order takes place in an alternate history, steam punk version of London that sees players controlling a new generation of Arthurian knights continuing their centuries-long battle with half-breed werewolves. The knights pass on their names after their tenure is completed and their supernaturally extended lives have come to a close. What about any of that doesn't sound downright, un-apologetically, fucking awesome? Overwhelmingly dorky, but awesome all the same. What The Order succeeds in creating is a beautiful, visually ardent title that's all but hollow once you peel back the eye candy. And I mean that sincerely, this is easily the most graphically robust PS4 title to be released on Sony's console, but, ultimately, it’s also one of the most boring games I've played in a very long time.
The Order feels like a throwback to a console generation that came to a close a decade ago. The cutscenes are long and un-skippable, action sequences are couched as a poorly cloned cover-shooter, and the most disappointing part of the game is the absolute crippling reliance on quick time events in place of, ya know, actual gameplay. For one stretch of the game I went without doing anything, aside from walking from one point of exposition to the next, for 15 minutes. 15 minutes of cutscenes and following another knight of the order from point A to point B. I don't have anything against a slow burn, but there's gotta be a payoff. Sadly The Order never delivered for me.
Did I mention yet that it looks amazing? Because it really does. Sony and Ready at Dawn Studios have released a game that looks like a current-gen marvel, but plays like a title packed with dated trends sloppily cobbled together around a story that begins like a Lovecraftian horror tale and ends by becoming a bloated political soap opera. Aesthetically pleasing, but mechanically frustrating, The Order 1886 should be reclassified as an interactive novel, because while the story is dense, the endless cutscenes, the brainless quick time events, and endlessly flawed design choices are about as action-packed as turning the pages of a book. If you're interested in watching a game rather than actually playing one, than The Order should be a game you should check out.
Cop or drop? It sucks to say this because I wanted this game to succeed, but drop.