Form an... Order-ly queue
The Order: 1886 is a game with a great deal of potential. Arguably the first PS4 game to really incite jaw-dropping, 'This is the future' disbelief with its visuals, it's also Sony's big chance to grab the cover-shooter crowd before Microsoft inevitably drops the new Xbox One Gears of War. So it was with a great deal of excited anticipation that I entered my Gamescom demo this morning. My findings? The Order: 1886, is still all about potential, but alas that's currently all. Its mettle as a game is still entirely unknown.
My hands-off demo confirmed that The Order is indeed one hell of a beautiful piece of work. Its steampunk-tinged, anachronistic depiction of Victorian London is one of the richest, most detailed game worlds I've seen in a long time. There's an intricate, layered look and feel to its art design that lends an arresting vibrancy throughout. And the new areas shown off today displayed a pleasing amount of variety, the smoky, sunset haze of the docks, and Westminster's warm, gilded opulence providing immense contrast to the earlier-seen Whitechapel greys.
But as a game? I still know very little. It's a cover-shooter. The enemies come in both human and werewolf flavours. The guns--all historically accurate, right down to international wartime design conceits, or extrapolated from those real-world designs--appear to fire with a hell of a satisfying kick. Almost on a par with those of Resident Evil 4. And there appear to be a lot of slower-paced, cinematic-saturated interludes, during which exploration and tension take the lead, allowing for pacing mix-ups and the opportunity for the player to really drink in the world's design. There also seem to be a lot of QTEs.
But those are all just facts. Nothing I've seen of The Order yet tells me how it feels. The tone of today's demo remained rather technical, scholarly, and and a little cagey about the game's overall experience. The many short, self-contained footage clips followed suit. I want to like The Order. And maybe I will. But first I need to become hooked by the overall package, and so far I just haven't been presented with an opportunity to be.