The Order: 1886 – A Cinematic Learning Experience

From our first impression of the game in 2013, The Order: 1886 appeared to be a beautiful, ambitious game that was ready to stand apart from its competitors. Developed with a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, The Order: 1886 wanted to give players a cinematic experience when playing the game, putting great detail into cutscenes, environments, characters and weapons. With a beautiful rendition of a steam-punk inspired London, The Order: 1886 was a technological achievement graphically, but fell short in other areas due to its monotonous gameplay and surprisingly short length.

With a playtime of around 5 hours and a price tag of $60, The Order: 1886 has been a controversial subject since its release. While it isn’t the first game to have a short campaign, its price makes it even less attractive. Not only that, but the game doesn’t have any sort of replayability, essentially making it a $60, 5-hour, beautiful-but-boring movie. I admire the developer, Ready at Dawn, for making such a great-looking game but the question arises: Were its resources well spent? After reviews praising the game’s graphics but rejecting its gameplay and length, it appears not.

Keeping all of this in mind, we need to remember that video games are a market place, and, as a consumer, I want to get the most for my money. A game like The Order: 1886, would cost the average person more than $10 for every hour they played the game, making each hour the developer has with the player so much more important. A good story-driven game makes a gamer feel deeply, creating environments and characters we want to see more of, and to pack all of that into 5 hours without sacrificing the way it looks would be even more difficult. When I think of games that I can beat in 5 hours, like Hotline Miami, on average they cost me from $5-$10, and although I wouldn’t equate time-to-cost, there is a level of attachment I need to have with a game before I can say it’s worth the money I spent and that level of attachment is hard to reach in a short amount of time.

Consumerism aside, speaking strictly as a fan of video games, The Order:1886 pushed the medium of video games into a unique place and that aspect of the game should continue to be admired and pursued. I’m a firm believer of experimentation as a means to forward an artistic medium and The Order: 1886 did exactly that.

The Order’s bold attempt to mesh film and video games will have a positive impact on any game that follow this path and, at the very least, The Order: 1886’s flaws can be learned from and improved upon. If I had to make a prediction, The Order: 1886 will remain a graphical achievement for the console but will ultimately be classified as a mediocre game for its lack of interesting content.