Dear Game Developers: Please don’t turn me into an executioner

I finished The Order: 1886 last night. For the most parted I didn’t like it, but I wanted to talk today about one part that I truly hated.

I can’t really avoid spoilers so if for some reason you plan on playing this game (and I would not recommend it) you might want to skip this post.

To establish a baseline, The Order: 1886 is roughly 50% shooter, 50% Quick Time Events. (If you’re not familiar with that term, think Dragon’s Lair. In other words, segments of the game have you press a specific button in response to on-screen prompts. “Press X now or fail.”)

The ending is one big cut-scene and QTE. At the end of the game Grayson, the character you play as, has been betrayed by a trusted colleague. You’ve gone through a long series of QTE events and now your former colleague, now opponent, is prone on the floor, bleeding, helpless and defeated. Now you have to assassinate him.

Push the Square Button to cock your pistol. Now press R2 to shoot your helpless foe in the head.

Your other option is to quit the game and never finish it. You can’t decide to let him live, maybe see if you can find some solution that lets the two of you go forward. Assassinate him or quit. Those are your options.

Dear Ready At Dawn: That’s a fucked up thing to make your players do and you’ve dropped to one of my least favorite studios because of it.

Now granted you kill a LOT of people up to this point, often (in my opinion) unnecessarily. The main character is pretty much a butcher and a sociopath to begin with. I was already pretty unhappy to be ‘living in his skin’ so to speak. Having the character kill his helpless foe in this way does fit in with his behavior up to this point. You’re playing a complete asshole in this game. I’m not upset so much with the fact that Grayson killed this person, but that I had to pull the trigger. If it had been a non-interactive cut scene (and there are MANY of those in The Order: 1886) I would’ve thought “Yup, Grayson is a sadistic bastard right up to the end. May he burn in hell.”

But making me do it made me feel like shit about myself. I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t pop out the disk and snap it in half at that point in the game, in fact, but the finish line was so close that my desire for closure overcame common decency.

On the one hand I know it’s silly to feel so strongly about this because “it’s only a game” but I feel like sometimes that doesn’t matter. The Order is a dead-serious game with realistic graphics. There’s no whimsy here. I suppose on some level Ready At Dawn succeeded because it DID matter to me. I was invested enough in the world for it to matter. Plenty of people cry during sad movies even though the people in them are fictitious; fiction can influence our emotions, and that’s what happened to me in The Order. So kudos to Ready At Dawn for making me feel, but screw you guys for making me feel like shit.

2 thoughts on “Dear Game Developers: Please don’t turn me into an executioner

  1. I often wonder at the prevalence of quick time events in modern AAA games. Everyone complains about them and the gaming press makes fun of “press X to not die” yet they are ubiquitous. Is there a silent majority of gamers out there who really love this type of gameplay? Perhaps it is just a lazy way of progressing the story in a known direction that allows slightly more interactivity than a cut scene. To be honest though I prefer cut scenes. At least in a cut scene you are able to watch the story. In a quick time event you can’t follow the story because you have to keep scanning the screen for the trigger to press X or triangle or whatever.

  2. @mbp — That’s a really good question. I’m with you, if you’re going to do a cut scene, just let me relax and watch the cut scene rather than scanning for a button prompt. I don’t know where these things come from, really. I guess someone somewhere must be a fan but I don’t know that person.

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