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The Order: 1886 review: Arthurian legend meets gothic horror

Screengrab from video game : The Order: 1886

Screengrab from video game : The Order: 1886 (PlayStation) Credit: PlayStation

In The Order: 1886, the Knights of the Round Table have survived the centuries, using a mystical and vaguely sinister tonic to unnaturally extend their lives. In the rare instance that one knight dies, a new soldier takes his name. Standing in opposition to these near-immortal warriors are the half-breeds -- warped creatures torn from the pages of gothic novels. The long-lived knights of the Order have finally gained a foothold in the war through the advent of industrial technology, and now they serve a British Empire at the height of its power.

The story is structured around introducing the setting, but deliberate pacing and mature, complicated characters keep things interesting. The main characters carry the weight of too many years, and through smart dialogue and gradual exposition, we get a sense of the toll that endless fighting has taken on them.

Visually, the game is a masterpiece of cinematic immersion with gritty and authentic environments. Every scene looks like it could be a still cut from a thoughtfully crafted film. A landscape view of the action is another nod to film technique, though it limits players' views to a narrow bar.

Combat is the centerpiece of gameplay, but the battles can feel familiar. A varied collection of weapons adds excitement: potent shotguns and machine pistols sit alongside more exotic offerings that fire bursts of lightning or clouds of explosive thermite.

It's also clear that The Order: 1886 is meant to be the first game of a grander story. Players should brace themselves for a lot of unresolved character arcs and unanswered questions. This is an origin story, but a fascinating one.


RATING: M for Mature

PLOT: The legend of King Arthur takes a gothic turn.

DETAILS: PlayStation 4, $59.99

BOTTOM LINE: Visually stunning, but incomplete: These knights will be back for another day.

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