In a World of Monsters and Men, the Real Terror is QuickTime
Back in 2015, studio Ready At Dawn decided to grace us with a cinematically beautiful but flawed game The Order 1886. Teased to be a monster fighting game in which a secret society in London went out and saved the unsuspecting world many times over. However, this was a whole bait and switch, because what we ended up with was a mediocre shooter, taking down mainly rebel humans who are fighting against current society with maybe a total of 7-10 half-breed werewolves.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if it hadn’t been shown off in all the trailers as being a sort of Van Helsing esque organization hunting down werewolves and kicking monsters asses and taking names. Yet the spots that were released were pure thriller vibe where the werewolves were constantly on the offensive and you and a group of NPCs had to hold your own. The game doesn’t even try to instill that sort of terror into you when you play, from the beginning it is slow, cinematic, and focused solely on bland shooting against humans. You know, except for the prologue, that is simply the game beating itself up early because it knows it messed up.
The Combat is… Meh
What makes a basic shooter?
- Cover Shooting
- Some Sort of Melee feature
- At least 4-6 different types of guns (each with random variations)
- Stealth sections
- Shooting from the Hip
The Order has this in spades, that isn’t exactly horrible but it can be depending on execution. With that, I can safely say that The Order doesn’t reach beyond its means, it is a standard shooter with just enough flaws to keep it from being anything better than bland. The melee is a quicktime button press and you have to be close enough for the prompt to show up to be able to do it, where stealth kills force you to time the attacks with the same type of button prompt. These prompts, in stealth mode, result in instant death by the guards you’re taking down, this also includes you getting spotted from halfway across a courtyard covered in bushes.
Where it shines are the gun variations, from rifles, pistols, and shotguns to interesting inventions made by the one and only Nikola Tesla as a young man. The weapons he hands you come in the electronic shock type rifles, Thermite Guns in which you ignite thermite when you launch a flare, as well as grenade and rocket launchers. Each of the generic weapon types also has a handful of different variations, though sometimes the differences are really hard to spot, leading to some pretty bland weapon cycling.
It’s as basic as you can get with a shooter and yet it still manages to feel bland and uninspired. The science weapons feel interesting till you use all the ammo and have to switch back to standard weapons.
Though that’s the whole feel The Order has, it feels like it could be something fantastic but somehow falls short. The best example sits on the overall graphical power that it holds.
Beautiful Looking But Hard To Look At
The Order is gorgeous in all aspects, I can’t say enough how amazing it looks. It’s cinematically impressive, pushing the bounds of how games that early in the console cycle. They even went so far as to force a wide screen theater mode and put the black bars on both the bottom and top of the screen (which can truly be irritating).
It felt like Uncharted levels of beauty that not many companies have been able to implement into even current gen titles. And if any of those paying attention to this whole thing, this game was made in 2015. Every aspect of the game was stunning, well designed, no true flaws other than the black bars and the somewhat smog effect that seemed to cloud most areas in the game.
Even though it was without major flaws, something that did manage to take away from one of the biggest highlights of this game was the forced inspection mechanic. While you are forced to slowly walk around most of the levels when you’re not shooting people, you will come across random items that adds partial background info (which most of the time you’ll easily ignore what they say or see any real meaning in them). You’ll be tasked to pick them up and rotate them around in your hand with no real rhyme or reason. Most of these can be skipped, unless you want to platinum the game then you kinda have to, but the ones you’re forced to do have no meaning, just trying to show off what details they worked super hard to fit in.
When you get handed new weapons, they force inspection to imitate you inspecting an actual gun with the ammo and and the slide works. It also kind of does the inspection deal when having to overpower terminals, but it is really just a timing section. And unfortunately this just kills the pace of the game and ruins the absolute beauty of The Order. Having to sit still and turn junk around in your hand for a big portion of the game just makes me want to scream, and only takes away from something that really made the game shine.
Well that and the fact that most the conversations in the game are really stiff and you can even notice the other characters feel uncomfortable. The writing seems to be coherent in most places, like conversations going on between characters in cut scenese and even NPCs in the background have decent dialogue marred by weird repetition if you move forward just a little bit further ahead. However in a handful of scenes, the conversations between characters are cut short, making everyone feel awkward, and you can read it on their faces. What makes it more awkward is you can’t skip cut scenes like that, which is a bummer when you know the scene isn’t going anywhere at all.
The True Monsters
The gimmick of QuickTime Events have been around for a long time, stretching as far back as the 1980’s, becoming more popular in late 90’s and early 00’s. Some of the games associated with QTE would have to be Shenmue and Resident Evil 4. Most of those games pulled off quicktime events in such a decent fashion (even though some of RE4 caught you off guard because they were seamless with the cut scenes).
This brief history lesson was easy to setup my horrible attack on the asinine amount of QTE in this game is RIDICULOUS! It’s pretty much integral in progressing in the game. From the opening level, you have to mash buttons, time slowed down button presses, or move down directional sticks to grab weapons, punch someone, or dodge an attack. To say this game had a combat system would be lying, it has a QT system outside of gunfights and even then during stealth missions it tries to leak in to gunplay.
And it wouldn’t be so horrible if done properly, but it isn’t! It is just awful, it’s done almost every five minutes, it is not needed and breaks up how the story and action flows, and it adds a horrible grainy filter to simulate in their own way ‘time distorting’. It just breaks everything that is good or could have been good about The Order. If there was anything to be saved from this game, it was crushed by QTE.
What makes it worse is that the 2, count em, 2 boss fights are nothing but carbon copy QTE fests where you dodge and strike. Nothing screams doomed for failure than your final boss being a QTE.
Coming To Order
With everything about this game coming to a head, it’s time to put The Order 1886 to the Council’s vote. With such a beautiful looking game with mediocre shooting combat, pared with forced observation and limited exploration in what could have been an expansive world, this Look Back seems to be not worth the peak over the shoulder.
The best about it was it looked great and had passable but overdone combat, with a story that was there but left by the wayside. The things that killed it was the ridiculously overused QTE mechanic, forcing you to examine objects on end for no reason, and a horrible short play time, as well as a slow moving pace when you’re not firing on enemies.
The Order 1886 felt, like many who came before me said, a giant prologue to a much bigger game. The ending felt like there should have been more to it, as if we missed something along the way and possibly a large portion of the game was cut due to time constraints. 6 hours to finish the story (closer to 7 if you want to Platinum the game) and so much going wrong for it, make the things that went right just didn’t shine bright enough.
- Graphically Impressive
- The Environment Is immersive
- Gun Play Passable and sometimes Fun
- QTE Bogs Down Everything
- Story Bait and Switch
- Horribly Slow/Sluggish
- Incredibly Short (6 Hours)
Looking Back I’d say The Order 1886 should get a 5 out of 10
Honestly I’d go lower but I can’t fault a 2 year old game that tried hard and made the best of a bad situation.