Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 122020

When The Order: 1886 was announced, I almost ordered a PlayStation 4 that night.

In the end, I resisted the urge and in fact never ended up buying the game… until this year. With the PlayStation 5 on the horizon, I thought it was fitting to finally pick up The Order: 1886 on sale and see how it stacked up against my initial excitement.

The story premise is fantastic. Steampunk knights fighting werewolves and vampires? How could I not love it?

For starters, the game could do everything in its power to keep me away from its supernatural foes in favor of fighting waves of ordinary humans.

You play as Sir Galahad (or Grayson, his real name), a member of an order of knights that has carried on the names and traditions of the Knights of the Round Table in order to fight the shapeshifting monsters known as half-breeds. Yet despite this awesome premise, you spend so much time fighting humans as Galahad uncovers a conspiracy related to the half-breeds that I started to wonder if The Order: 1886 was even “spooky” enough for our theme.

It’s a cover-based third-person shooter, with a general gameplay flow that reminded me a bit of Uncharted – you walk through levels and climb specific marked areas while getting some dialogue with whichever character you’re with at that point in the story, maybe examine a few collectibles, and then you shoot waves of enemies. There are a couple of cool steampunk guns, but in general it plays like a standard third-person shooter when I really just wanted to see more of the lycans (werewolves) we were supposedly devoted to stopping.

Then again, maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t get my wish for more monster fights, because the handful of times you do fight lycans, they have such terrible AI that they quickly went from being creepy to the most boring fights in the game.

There are also some QTE fights, because The Order: 1886 is absolutely in love with QTEs.

The pacing is a bit strange, since there are entire chapters that are just cutscenes, and occasionally even multiple cutscene-only chapters in a row. It shows how devoted they were to making The Order: 1886 a cinematic, story-based experience, which I didn’t mind. I like story-heavy games.

And despite my disappointment that it didn’t have as much horror as I expected, I was genuinely enjoying the story. Sure, there are some plot contrivances, and some conflicts seemed to exist solely because characters didn’t communicate with each other, but it was exciting. I liked the plot’s twists and turns, I felt for Galahad in all his stubborn insistence on making terrible decisions, and I was invested in the unfolding conspiracy.

Until it stopped.

The Order: 1886 ends on such a cliffhanger, I couldn’t believe the credits were rolling. In the past, I’ve complained about the ending of Knights of the Old Republic II, but at least that felt like they wrote a full story and just never bothered to give it an ending scene. The Order: 1886 feels like it’s just the setup of a larger story. It is blatantly obvious that they were counting on a sequel.

So many loose ends are unresolved, with only one important part being wrapped up at the end – in such a way that it actually brings up more questions and potential plot points.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had a lot of unanswered questions about the world, too, particularly when it comes to the half-breeds. Vampires seem straightforward enough, but what about the lycans? They don’t follow the typical werewolf idea of transforming into mindless monsters under the full moon, so how exactly do they work? Why do they attack people? What is their goal?

Click for major The Order: 1886 spoilers
This wouldn’t be so important except for what happens near the end. The game tries to make Lucan sympathetic, and he claims the Order and the half-breeds aren’t so different. So what exactly are the lycans trying to do? What does Lucan gain from his alliance with Lord Hastings, whose general motivation appears to be “evil”? Do lycans need to kill people to survive? Do they just want to hide from the Order (which would raise a lot of other questions)? Do they simply hate humans much like humans hate half-breeds?

If a sequel to The Order: 1886 existed, I’d be less bothered by the cliffhanger. But this was presented as a full game on its own, and there’s no sign of The Order: 1887 (or whatever The Order: 1886’s sequel would be called) in sight. To end the story like it did, with so much unresolved, is just frustrating.

I’m happy I finally played The Order: 1886. Even if it feels like I spent most of this review complaining, I really did enjoy parts of it. And if a sequel is ever released… well, I’ll probably wait to make sure it has a full story this time and then play it, but I’d be interested. This is Ready at Dawn, the developer who made one of my favorite God of War games; I want to believe in their vision! I want to help Galahad and take down the villain!

But I have to say, I’m glad I didn’t get The Order: 1886 at launch.

How did you feel about The Order: 1886? Do you think there is any hope of the sequel being made? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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  4 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Spooky – The Order: 1886”

  1. Ah, it is weird going back to older games that were so obsessed with QTEs as the current gaming fad… they still exist to this day, but not as pervasive I think.

  2. It seems like this game had a lot of potential but failed to hit the mark which is a shame. I really hate QTEs so that’s really the nail in the coffin to me.

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