A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Order: 1886 is an alternate-history third-person shooter with some very mature elements. Combat against humans and werewolves involves pistols, rifles, and knives that can turn enemies into a gory mess, and the game opens with a disturbing torture sequence wherein a man is nearly drowned. Scenes set in a brothel include topless women, sex, and full-frontal male nudity. The bloody combat and explicit sexual scenes are intensified by the game's remarkable graphics, lending a sense of heightened realism to characters and their actions. Players also can expect to hear occasional bursts of strong language, including "f--k," along with seeing characters smoking and drinking alcohol.
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What's it about?
Players step into the shoes of Sir Galahad, a 19th-century Knight of the Round Table, in THE ORDER: 1886, an alternate-history third-person shooter and action game. He's part of a group of unusually long-lived men and women protecting the realm from rebels and worse roaming English streets. The knights are equipped with weapons and technology that didn't exist at that time and have access to a mysterious liquid called Blackwater that instantly heals grave wounds. The story takes place over a couple of months near the end of 1886, with Galahad; his mentor, Sir Percival; Lady Igraine; and new initiate the Marquis de Lafayette investigating increased rebel activity in the town of Whitechapel. Galahad soon realizes, however, that things aren't as they seem, that threats lurk not only from without his Order but also within. Assisted by unlikely allies, he slowly unravels plots and conspiracies while engaging in intense, cover-based combat and the occasional bit of stealth.
Is it any good?
There's a pretty good chance The Order: 1886 is the most graphically sophisticated game ever made. From the rich, warm, lived-in look of buildings to the minutiae found around and inside shops and underground transportation terminals, this 19th-century England is astoundingly detailed. The world looks and feels real in ways that outstrip any other game. And it has characters to match, thanks to incredibly realistic facial animations, terrific voice acting, and authentic writing and dialogue. Add a twisty, fantastical plot that keeps one foot grounded in reality, and you have a recipe for an amazing interactive story.
Unfortunately, this otherwise memorable experience is weighed down by a series of perplexing game design missteps that will leave many experienced players scratching their heads. Clunky quick-time events that prompt players to press specific buttons during cinematic combat sequences result in frequent failure and serve only to disrupt narrative immersion. Third-person firefights, meanwhile, are surprisingly uninspired. Pistols are so powerful as to render what ought to be more exciting weapons -- such as the tantalizingly named Thermite Rifle and Arc Gun -- all but unnecessary. And, aside from the occasional flanking shotgunner, enemies offer no surprises or challenges. Just shoot, duck, recover, repeat. Fans of story-driven single-player games will still find much to like here -- a few of the 16 chapters don't even involve any combat -- but people who play games mostly for action likely will walk away disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Violent images in this game are made all the more intense thanks to the bar-raising graphics; when, if ever, do you think it's appropriate or artistically valid to show intense violence in entertainment media?
Families also can discuss sexuality in games. What do you think of how women, men, and sex are depicted in this game? Is it true to the era?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: February 20, 2015
- Genre: Third-person shooter
- Topics: Adventures, History, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.