Simply put, the story of The Order: 1886 is the epitome of predictability. As Sir Galahad, you slowly begin to uncover a conspiracy that could go all the way up to the top. Along your journey, there are betrayals and emotional outbursts. Heck, you could probably make a good guess as to what some of the twists are in the game without ever playing it.
However, I will say this about the story: it may be clichéd and hopelessly predictable, but that doesn’t stop it from being entertaining. This is largely thanks to a diverse cast of characters that help add some color to an otherwise lifeless ‘been there, done that’ story.
You’ve got Galahad, the brooding angry man with a handsome moustache. He’s old and grumpy, but he’s not afraid to fight for what he thinks is right. You’ve got Lafayette, the Frenchman and resident womanizer (of course). And then you’ve got Isabeau, the hard-headed female lead and subtly hinted at romantic interest of grumpy Galahad. They’re all rather one-dimensional in the opening act of the game, but they do at least complement each other well.
The voice work in the game is outstanding, and the characterization is believable. You don’t doubt the importance of their duties as knights of the Order, and you feel the weight of their words bearing down on you whenever they make a passionate claim in the presence of the council.
What drags the story down is the lack of a main villain for the first three quarters of the game, and the dangling of loose ends at the end of the campaign. Your supporting cast of initially one-dimensional characters also get some much-needed development when nearing the game’s finale, but they don’t get nearly enough screen time for that to even matter. The final chapters of the game felt rushed with a few story threads left unresolved, and it ended on a deeply unsatisfying note.
The story is ultimately unmemorable and isn’t anything to write home about. If you’re looking for a strong, narrative-driven experience, you’re not going to find it in The Order: 1886. I daresay you won’t find yourself even remotely attached to any of the characters in the game. They’re all rather entertaining to watch, yes, but most of their development comes way too late in the game for players to latch on to them.
While I’m at it, I might as well address the issue of the game’s length. I clocked about nine hours on my initial run of the game, and that’s including the cutscenes, and deaths I suffered due to my own carelessness. Given that there’s no multiplayer portion in the game, and no new unlocks upon completion of the campaign, there’s not really much of anything to keep you around after finishing the game.
The Order: 1886 isn’t a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just a massive disappointment that failed to break new ground. It’s a shame because you can tell that a great deal of effort went into building this alternate version of 19th century London, and boy is it gorgeous. But are the beautiful visuals enough to justify the purchase of a game with a clichéd story, uninspired gameplay, and boring werewolves? I don’t think so.