I should hit up Reddit maybe, but I am fairly certain my co-conspirator is the only person willing to go on record as saying that The Order: 1886 is anything approaching a videogame. He wants me to play it very much, presumably so that I can join his very exclusive cult, but I watched a few YouTube clips and it seems like you don’t hack monsters apart and then make hats and weapons out of their guts and white bones. And that’s all I care about right now. So I’ll have to get back to him on that.
And of course he wants to create some kind of relative shame scenario, but let’s be honest here. There’s probably more people on my team than his.
Kickstarter is a weird place. There have been some borderline inexplicable performances on there recently that manifest (for me, at least) the role its settled into at the top end, which manages - in the manner of the ancient alchemist - to convert social media momentum into cash. I have lost money a couple times on there, spectacularly in one case, but I’ve been mostly okay and helped a lot of cool shit get made. God, that one hurt, though.
If someone wants me to advertise their Kickstarter, though, it puts me in a weird position. I’m trying to feel out what exactly that means. It’s entirely possible that I am advertising a nega-product, which is the opposite of a thing. And so, of course, all responsibility thereto accrues to me and I feel strongly compelled to be a picky-pants. I don’t know how much of an all-the-time-thing I want it to be. I have accepted a couple, and turned down a couple. For example, I accepted Orion Trail (early demo) and Underworld Ascendant. Both games were Greenlit on Steam, but more importantly, they’re both games I want from people who actually know how to do what they’re pitching.
I finished the Order: 1886 yesterday and I actually really liked the game. All told I think it took me about eight hours which is certainly on the short side but not criminally so. I tend to play games for the art more than the story and the Order is jam packed with beautiful art and smart design. The world they have rendered in this game is so incredible I can’t wait to play another game in the setting. The Order: 1886 feels like the first movie in a trilogy to me. This is the origin story and the character we are left with at the end of the game is one I want to play as.
The rest of this post might get a little spoilery. I’ll try to keep it pretty minor though since ideally I think you should play the game yourself and I don’t want to ruin it for you.
The Good Stuff!
This game is just drop dead fucking gorgeous. The graphics are amazing certainly but it’s the ridiculous level of detail that they have rendered the world in that really blew me away. An incredible amount of thought and care went into designing a world that feels real and lived in. The airship sequence in particular stands out to me as one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a videogame. I walked up and down the isles, examined the plaques on the walls, looked in each of the state rooms, poked around in the communications office looking at all the equipment and when I got to the “Lifeboat” scene I actually said “oh shit!” out loud. I love all the work that went into each character’s costume and the design of the crazy alternate history weaponry. I spent way too long just walking around Nikola Tesla’s laboratory. I LOVE this world and I want to go back ASAP.
I also dug the story and really liked all the characters, especially Galahad. You can say that it’s cliche or that you saw the twists coming and sure maybe you can spot some of them but for me it’s about execution. Cliches are fine as long as they are well done. I think the Order tells a good story and honestly there were a couple points I was legit surprised at how the story turned. I love the Knights and I’m super curious to learn more about what exactly they are, what the Blackwater is and what the fuck is up with all these werewolves. After I finished the game I actually hit Amazon hoping to find a tie in novel but there doesn’t seem to be one. I’d read a book set in this world in a heartbeat.
The Order: 1886 delivers an incredibly cinematic experience. It actually reminded me a bit of Heavy Rain in that way. I know everyone wants their games to be open world these days but I think there is room for this sort of experience as well. I remember when I was creating adventures for my D&D group they were almost always “on rails” which is something many DM’s will tell you to avoid. I told my players “yes our game is on rails, but so is a rollercoaster.” I liked the quick time events, I liked the cover based shooting sequences and I liked all the cutscenes. I play a lot of different kinds of games and I’m happy to drop fifty hours into an RPG, but I also don’t mind a game I can wrap up in a few nights.
The Not So Good Stuff
The fights against the werewolves are not cool. I don’t mean the quick time fights against the elder wolf I’m talking about the shooting fights against the little ones. They run at you in a straight line, you jump out of the way and shoot them and then you just keep doing that. It stands out as especially bad considering how cool they look and how badly I wanted those fights to feel epic.
You kill a lot of dudes in this game and sometimes it felt a little crazy. It sort of reminded me of Uncharted in that I really like Nathan Drake but let’s be honest, he’s a mass murderer. I mean, he kills like a million guys in those games. I felt the same way about Galahad in the Order. I really liked him but the game puts me in situations where I have to kill a lot of dudes that I don’t always want to kill. It’s tricky because then there will be a cutscene where a character’s death is supposed to be super dramatic or really important but I literally just killed like a hundred guys to get there.
I really would have liked a Knights versus monsters multiplayer mode.
So there you go, that’s my take on the game. I have to say I don’t understand all the hate it’s getting. At the very least I’d say you should rent it and play it for yourself. Borrow it from a friend or wait for the price to come down maybe but don’t skip it because you’re scared of the scores.
We have to entertain, at least for a moment, the idea that he just wanted to draw Samus Aran. But he had also played Pokemon Shuffle in this new era of torrid, Nintendo lust inaugurated by the refresh to the 3DS hardware, and he was surprised to see the more or less “traditional” F2P grotesqueries on display.
I know I just used the word “wooly” on Friday, but I gotta dust it off and get it back on the field: these conversations get “wooly” very quickly. Or, they did in the past. Let’s see if that’s still true: there was a period of time where saying Free to Play was bullshit meant that you were an elitist hatemonger. Generally speaking this was something said by people who were trying to become millionaires by leveraging Free to Play mechanics, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were just hypoglycemic or whatever. My position, should it require enunciation, is that games are the best. And if you play even one, for any length of time, you will never stop there. So I don’t very much care about how you might have gotten in the door.
If I can make peace with a game, if there is enough game to make peace with, I will. Gems of War, I make peace with. Terra Battle, also. In both of these cases, there’s an aspect of lineage: who made them is important to me. But with Terra Battle especially, it’s a mechanic that is so oblique to the hegemony of Match-3 - the Matchriarchy, if you will - that it discovers and then subsequently colonizes fresh brain, creating the tingly “learning” sensation which is the main reason I play games anyhow. Between its bizarro take on tile movement and its complex positioning incentives, it’s not simply a palette swap. But, yeah. You can’t necessarily play these games when you want to. In some ways, real ones, you can’t be “fan” in the way we think of it.
You get trained by this stuff. The counterexample is here: Gryb wouldn’t shut up about Hero Emblems, and more than that, I saw him play it for the entirety of a flight once using only his right hand, which left him his other hand for parenting. I downloaded it, and I played it, and it was hard. And it wasn’t hard because they wanted me to buy a potion of some kind. It was hard because they had made a game from end to end that had triumph as a possibility; they made a game with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I kept trying to find the trap, but there was no trap. I moved the pieces around, and I succeeded or failed based on what I had done. I don’t know, folks. I feel like this could be big.