Out Of Order?

This blog is going to have a slight change in topic compared to a lot of the others I’ve previously made, which focused primarily on my writing expedition with Temporary. And, although the rewrite process continues with an increasingly diligent regularity – which is still contributing to my lack of blog updates – I’ve taken some time out today to do something I’ve not afforded myself in a while: I decided to enjoy some time off.

More importantly, I’ve decided to take some time off for myself today, and NOT thoroughly beat myself up over it.

Note: Totally not me.

I finally put some extended time aside today to play a video game.

The Order: 1886.

I personally take inspiration and influence from a large varitey of different places and mediums. Books, movies, TV shows, video games, wrestling and, of course, life; all these things contribute to my mindset when it comes to creating. All the screenplays I’ve written in the past are littered with references to numerous different things from a wide spectrum of entertainment, and the same is true for Temporary. 

Super Points go to anyone who finds the Star Wars references that I’ve spliced into a Final Fantasy reference when they get the chance to finally read the damn thing! Seriously, first one to find it would definitely be liable for a prize of some sort.

The Order: 1886 is a video game that met quite a critical reception upon its release. All looks, no substance, was a frequent criticism I heard lobbied at it and, although I’ve only had about 3 1/2 hours with the game (making it approximately half way through at this point in time) I have to admit I’m quite enjoying it. Sure there are a lot of logic issues within its own mythology, but I can’t lie: I think the character designs are great, the locations and feel of old London Taawwwwn have been created in stylish, effective, detail, and the story, although pretty predictable at this point, is still enjoyable. Is it true that it is essentially an interactive movie or novel of sorts? Yes. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think so, especially with how the video game industry has been evolving over the past few years.

I find it curious how some people gravitate towards this style of gameplay, with a heavy reliance Quick Time Events (QTE), broken up with the occasional action shooty, pew pew, sequence, within one series and decry its presence in another. Perhaps it comes down to the perception of how the game was marketed? It certainly has the looks, no one is surely going to argue that (bar the trolls), but with its lavished detail, did that put it under a pressure to  perform as well as it looks? Graphics aren’t everything, after all. Gameplay should be king, right? So why does this QTE heavy, cover based shooting, linear story get such flack when other series utilise the same techniques, perhaps swapping out shooting for the occasional puzzle?

TellTale Games has become an absolute power house in episodic gaming, something I am a major fan of. I love episode gaming, dipping in, dipping out, and still having enough time to get on with other aspects of your day whilst imbibing in gaming as a hobby leads to a great experience, with games of incomparable merit having been created from this developer, primarily The Walking Dead and, more recently, Game of Thrones.

Both these games rely heavily on QTE’s and the odd puzzle that can either be immersive, or annoying filler, padding out an episodes game time. One key difference does exist between these two however, and that’s in decisions.

With TellTales’ efforts, your decisions shape the story that your characters find themselves involved in. This isn’t true of The Order: 1886, where the story requires you to follow very limited, linear, paths in order to progress at the pace dictated to you.

Granted, the decision element really does help absorb you into the actions of your protagonists within The Walking Dead/Game of Thrones and their ilk, but a linear story isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this world of open map, sand box, games. Just look at Uncharted.

The Uncharted series is meticulously detailed, and its story is very straight forward, not allowing you to deviate to widely from the path Drake is meant to go along. Same again is true here in The Order.

The ability to make key, story changing decisions has helped to revolutionise gaming as an interactive story telling platform, whilst relying on the same QTE events that The Order evokes, but is it enough to say one game is amazing (The Walking Dead having won countless, well deserved, awards), whilst the other is dreadful, when their core gameplay mechanics (press the button at the right time, OR ELSE) is identical?

I found the reaction to The Order a very curious thing when I first started reading reviews for it. I had been looking forward to it since first scoping it’s trailer at E3. The mix of steampunk-esque weapons and character designs, coupled with old London and a supernatural element ticked a lot of boxes for me, so it was a shame to hear such negative things.

That being said, just like with movies, TV shows, books, comics, whatever, I tend to be of the opinion that it’s all well and good to read reviews and take others thoughts on board, but, when it comes down to it, I still wanna make up my own damn mind!

I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with The Order so far, although I can’t confirm the length of the game at this point, and even if it is a short game, honestly, I don’t find issue with that. Short, concise, and focused SHOULD lead to a story that has been trimmed of the fat. Too many times I’ve played games that are needlessly huge and pointlessly long, and felt a yearning for a more compact experience; hence my enjoyment of the episodic nature of TellTalles’ offerings.

I just found it interesting to compare the two, knowing the adulation the gaming community has thrown upon one, and the derision that has engulfed the other.

I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions on The Order: 1886, especially in comparison to other QTE based games out there if you’ve experienced them. Just shout out below!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, by jove, I have to go back to saving the Empire, wot, wot.

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