Monday, March 09, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #4 - The Order: 1886

When I first heard about The Order: 1886, I was intrigued but cautious - I'd heard that early builds of the game had real problems.But the idea of fighting werewolves in an alternate history/steampunk setting as King Arthur's knights was, to say the least, something different.

Then, when it was released, the prevailing comment was, "It's really short!" This got me thinking I should probably try a Gamestop rental and, as it turned out, that was enough to get through the whole game! Mind you, my gaming time isn't extensive - I play maybe 1 to 1 1/2 hours a night, so this took me no more than 8 or 9 hours.

Not that I'm complaining; I enjoy being able to actually finish a game. But aside from that, this game was an incredible visual experience that cannot be understated. As an example, here is a video I made while walking around the Round Table. Notice that each knight's shield is carved into their place:

Everything in this game screams DETAIL from the clothing to weapons to miscellaneous Victorian era room decor.

But how does the game play? Well, that could have used a little (or a lot of) help. Basically, this game is a third person shooting game and most of the time you are fighting people (rebels, ruffians, and employees of the treacherous United India corporation). There are few battles with werewolves and they come in only two flavors - rush attacks and QTE heavy boss battles. When you are actually shooting, the weapons "feel" very satisfying and the cover-based combat is entertaining, but it seems that there should have been something more meaningful to balance out the excellent art design, character voice acting, and musical score. There's also little explanation on why/how the knights of Camelot are still alive in the 19th Century or how some of them are knights now in the first place (like Lady Igraine or Marquis de Lafayette).

Some of the design choices were questionable, like the one where you have to position a cursor with your right thumbstick, then press a face button...with the same thumb! There were also places where your character, Sir Galahad, moves very slowly and can't run which can be very frustrating. The game is VERY linear - you are forced to follow a specific path the entire time and the only options you have is which enemy to shoot first. (I was really annoyed when, at one point, I entered a room and was made to drop a good weapon I was carrying in order to pickup a sniper rifle and do a specific mission before I could continue.) As such, there is virtually no replayability to The Order, which is sad considering how gorgeous it looks.

The story itself is somewhat easy to see how it's going to unfold. The only "shocking reveal" was something that I really didn't understand the significance of. The rest of the plot twists were only surprising to the main character.

However, all that being said, I liked playing The Order because it was very cinematic - the level of detail on the characters and world made you feel that this was more movie than game. (Maybe the couple of chapters that were nothing but cut-scenes helped that feeling.) The length of the game was actually a plus considering the game play wasn't very deep, but I do think that there are many gamers that would be put out to pay $60 for this short an experience with no replay value. If it does well enough, I think we can look forward to a much better The Order: 1887.

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