Published on December 14th, 2016 | by Cactus
How the kin of a cult darling became the surprise hit of 2015
Games have always been an innate fascination of mine; after all, one doesn’t go into the field of Games Journalism if that’s not the case. As we draw closer to the end of 2016, I feel my mind is hit with great waves of nostalgia, not only for the games that were released this year but also for those who many of us have forgotten from years past. Games are colossal things to construct, and with the AAA industry being so large at this point, many of the more poignant stories are often left by the wayside and forgotten. So dear GameBug reader, as we approach the end of 2016, let me retail you with a Yuletide tale set in the distant time of early 2015.
In early twenty-fifteen a game was released,
A game in which Men made war with Beasts,
While these horrors did lead to lesser men’s fright,
Our dear warriors hunted in the cover of night.
But behind the scourge was a horrible curse,
A long hidden secret, which was simply the worst,
And while our heroes lost much to win the day,
The horrors still lead to utter dismay.
Now, of course, the obvious choice for the game in my poem is one which many considered the most anticipated game of 2015; The Order 1886, a game in which the Knights of the Round Table continued to protect Victorian England against the creatures that befell it – primarily a werewolf scourge that plagues the inhabitants. Of course, behind all of this are seeds of rebellion and political espionage, that threaten to destroy the very system our hero Sir Galahad seeks to protect. With the premise of a Steampunk styling, the anticipation for The Order was incredibly high. Of course, anyone familiar with the real world story of The Order is familiar with this; the game was hyped to a point it could not have possibly reached, and thus when it was reviled to be an extremely linear cover based shooter disappointment skyrocketed. At the time Sony, the game’s publisher, seemed to think that The Order 1886 would be the next system seller for the relatively new Playstation 4. However, the game failed to reach expectations and has now fallen by the wayside in the annals of gaming history. Why then do I bring it up?
The Order: “You half-breed werewolves don’t frighten me. Besides, you’re only the first boss.”
Well, quite surprisingly, there is, in fact, a second game which fits those exact same criteria, which was released only a month after The Order: Bloodborne. Both games were Sony exclusives, both set in the Victorian era with a Steampunk aesthetic and both marketed around a werewolf scourge terrorising the city, be it London or Yharnam. Now as the renowned ‘Souls fan that I am Bloodborne was obviously a more appealing choice for myself out of the two games. As a matter of fact, most of the information regarding The Order completely slipped me by. If many of you don’t share my sentiment I can’t blame you, Bloodborne being a Playstation exclusive created by the team behind Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls doesn’t necessarily draw a huge crowd, considering the well-regarded difficulty and cult status of its forbearers. However, upon the release of what I still consider my favourite game, I found that people I had never expected started to pick it up. I don’t just mean the occasional friend mentioning it in passing, but droves of people I knew in person and online. Be they YouTubers or close friends, anyone with a PS4 seemed to buy a copy. Equally surprising was the quantity of people who bought Bloodborne who had expressed previous sentiments towards The Order 1886.
Bloodborne: “Ok, what the holy **** is that thing!?! What do you mean it’s the first boss!?”
In all my time writing about games, I have never encountered the phenomenon as intriguing as the relationship between Bloodborne and The Order 1886. Why was it that with two games sharing almost 90% of the same premise, the one that failed financially was the more anticipated? I strongly believe that Bloodborne is a great game, but, as its predecessors had shown before, a great game is not always guaranteed great sales upon launch. It also isn’t uncommon for great games to be overlooked due to the release of higher profile games in a similar time frame. However, we must consider that The Order was the most hyped Playstation 4 game of all time. There has yet to be another original IP that has been as highly awaited as The Order was. However, when The Order began to receive incredibly low review scores (Kingy of GameBug gave it a 3, with a score of 1 for gameplay) the hype began to die down. But the death of hype is one that dies hard. To have a game that you have been anticipating for years end up a flop is hard hitting, and I suspect that in this time of tragedy for Order fans, they ended up drifting towards the best next thing in their books: Bloodborne, a game with a similar enough premise to keep those who felt lost on track. The fact that the game so many grouped to after the loss of The Order turned out to be an incredibly good one may be pure coincidence, but the fact remains; Bloodborne went on to become one of the highest reviewed games of 2015 and was the second best-selling game of March that year (not bad for a new IP, and considering first place was Battlefield: Hardline).
At least fighting rebels is less psychologically taxing than Cthulhu monsters. At 700 years old I would want a cushy job too.
As we reach the conclusion of 2016 and await the trove of new games to come in the year ahead, remember that for all the ‘Most Hyped’ game awards you see, keep in mind that hype does not equate to quality and that the games you brush aside might have been the best you’d ever play. It’s easy these days to let the gaming media make the choices for you and tell you which games to play and which to avoid, but remember that us writers are only human, subject to human foibles and interests. In retrospect, the best games I played this year I stubbled upon whilst looking for other things. So be hyped about games, hope and pray that they are everything you dream for when you see the trailers and the gameplay footage, but if you have one New Years resolution, then try to keep an eye out for the diamonds in the rough. Who knows, you might find something better than anything all the hype in the world could have given you.
For more insights into games, be they diamonds or coal, stick with GameBug!