You're going to absolutely love The Order: 1886, PS4 fans.
Well, if you adore quick-time events, that is. And games rigidly holding your hand. And not being able to deviate from mission parameters at all. Oh, and if the mere thought of instafail stealth gets you all tingly. Basically, if you're a fan of outdated, outmoded, excruciatingly linear game design, you're going to love The Order: 1886.
I find it quite interesting that in a period where more and more games are seeking to give more power to the players, just how stupid The Order: 1886 deems those holding the gamepad. This slice of cinematic (yep, there's that word) steampunk Victoriana shares the Puritanical tendencies one might have found in that time period, only it rigidly applies it to your enjoyment and engagement. I was recently privy to a brief hands-on demo of the game, and it succeeded in convincing me that everything I feared about The Order: 1886 was true.
It's a gorgeous game that absolutely hates being a game.
Let's acknowledge that first point, because graphics are important when it comes to interactive action-adventure rollercoasters like this one. The Order: 1886 has the very best visuals to be experienced on the PS4. It's been masterfully rendered, and the level of detail in the world, every follicle of the pristine moustaches of the protagonists, is perfectly presented. It's a beautiful sight to behold, but like many beautiful sights, The Order: 1886 might as well have a sign about it saying "look but don't touch".
The first part of the demo saw me sneaking aboard an airship and skulking around a bunch of corridors, avoiding the sightlines of incredibly beady-eyed guards, and dispatching them with wearying QTEs. Unlike the stealth games we've been playing for years, The Order: 1886 isn't concerned with you thinking on your feet and dealing with a situation if you're spotted. No, it's a murder cutscene for you, and back to the last checkpoint. Remember, if your run isn't perfectly matching the intentions of The Order's strict gameplay restrictions, you're doing it wrong.
It's inconsistent in its mechanics, too. Some guards can spot you a mile away, others seemingly not. Your enemies often come toting lanterns in brightly-lit areas on a ship filled with combustible gas. It doesn't make much sense. Neither does the fact that the sequence directly after your instafail slog sees you pull out a silenced sniper rifle. Quite why you couldn't use this before is a mystery to all concerned. This next bit has you taking out targets from a balcony with said sniper rifle, but you have to identify your targets first, and the game helpfully holds your hand through all of this, painting targets with bright blue marks and not really letting you do anything.
Then the third-person shooting starts. For more on this see any Gears of War game ever.
The weapons are at least interesting, and there's some nice aural feedback. Once I'd gotten Galahad down into the combat crucible, things began to heat up a little bit, I actually felt a modicum of tension. I plucked an incendiary shotgun off of the corpse of some goon I'd taken down with a thunderous barrage from my rifle, and began to have a fair amount of explosive fun. It should be noted that the AI in the demo was pretty idiotic, and considering how little this game has to do, I was hoping that limb targeting might prove a legitimate tactic, but for all of its whiskered pomp, The Order: 1886 disappoints on that front too. This is a hyper-linear shooter outdone by sodding Soldier of Fortune.
There's a bit towards the end of the demo that had me fighting my way through a kitchen area, and enemies actually started moving around and trying to flank me, and all of a sudden I felt exposed and vulnerable and the game felt dangerous and exciting and ohIdon'tknow how shooters are supposed to feel rather than being insipid, uninspired, arms-length, wannabe movies.
It all depends on what you're looking for, I suppose. I'm loathe to write off The Order: 1886 on the basis of a half-hour demo, but it hasn't exactly done an awful lot to inspire much excitement either. If you're looking for an aesthetic marvel, something that looks amazing and will justify those hundreds of pounds you spent on a PS4 by making your retinas weep with joy, then this might be the game for you. If you're happy to wind the clock back to the days of the original Gears of War (a game that seems awfully dated in 2014) then this might be the game to relive the heyday of the lumbering, QTE-stuffed shooters of 2006.
But if you're one of those gamers who prizes freedom and choice in terms of gameplay on a moment-to-moment basis, if you'd rather not play a game that seems to be mechanically and creatively stuck in the past (a bit ironic considering the period nature of The Order's setting), I fear there'll be nothing for you here.