The Or­der: 1886

Beast En­ders

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Comics -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

Plat­form: PS4 Pub­lisher: Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment

There have

been fewer ex­am­ples of the clas­sic dis­par­ity be­tween graph­ics and game­play in re­cent years. The pret­ti­est games have also tended to de­liver the goods me­chan­i­cally, with such con­sis­tency it’s cre­ated a Pavlo­vian re­flex to­wards vis­ual fidelity as an in­di­ca­tor of over­all ex­cel­lence. In the case of The Or­der: 1886, it’s a mis­lead­ing re­flex in­deed.

Tell peo­ple about all the game’s pac­ing is­sues, its chok­ing lin­ear­ity and bizarre de­sign calls, and still they all want to play it.

The Or­der is beau­ti­ful on ev­ery level – not just its ex­tra­or­di­nary light­ing, ma­te­rial ren­der­ing and post- pro­cess­ing, but in the alt- his­tory world it de­picts. The industrial age is ac­cel­er­ated by elec­tric­ity, and hu­mans are split by ge­netic mu­ta­tions which ren­der some as bestial “half- breeds”. The twin prongs of de­vel­oper Ready At Dawn’s thought­ful and tan­gi­ble par­al­lel di­men­sion and the scarcely be­liev­able fidelity of its RAD 4.0 en­gine don’t dis­ap­point. Ev­ery­thing else does.

The in­ten­tion here is ap­par­ently to blend ac­tion/ adventure game­play with some­thing more cin­e­matic. As such, the lines be­tween cutscenes and game­play are con­sis­tently blurred – the for­mer all oc­cur in- en­gine so there’s no vis­ual dis­con­nect be­tween the two. It also means your level of in­ter­ac­tion in a given scene is of­ten re­duced to walk­ing from point to point, per­haps ex­am­in­ing an ob­ject be­fore trig­ger­ing ei­ther a gun­fight or a cutscene. Oc­ca­sion­ally you’re given more free­dom – maybe you’ll pick locks, ex­e­cute melee take­downs or ma­nip­u­late the scenery – but th­ese mo­ments ac­count for a no­table mi­nor­ity of the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence.

Okay, fine. So it’s a movie. So is ev­ery­thing Tell­tale has re­leased for the last two years. But where Tell­tale adventure games of­fer dia­logue choice, de­ci­sions with con­se­quences and char­ac­ters you care about, The Or­der doesn’t. It isn’t fully com­mit­ted to ei­ther in­ter­ac­tive drama or ac­tion/ adventure, so ends up un­able to meet your ex­pec­ta­tions of ei­ther. It’s rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful as a cover-shooter, but there are huge com­pro­mises ev­i­dent here, too.

The Or­der’s cer­tainly worth your eyes, if not your money. Just don’t ex­pect any­thing deeper than a nine- hour won­der- tech show­case. Vis­ually it’s ev­ery­thing you could have hoped for, but the com­pro­mises re­quired to reach that fidelity are hugely dam­ag­ing. Phil Iwaniuk Re­leased a week af­ter Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice, this also fea­tures mod­ern‑day knights us­ing Arthurian names.

Cer­tainly worth your eyes, if not your money

Science ex­per­i­ments were never like this when we were at school.

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