To simply inhabit the world of The Order is a pleasure in itself, adorned as it is with a smorgasbord of visual and literary influences that inform our gameplay experience. The aforesaid steampunk aesthetic shines through in the rustic weaponry and analogue gadgets encountered throughout the game. Its alternate history imagery fetishizes a synthesis of dirty, anachronistic Victorian apparatuses and luxurious aristocratic pomp. Walking through the lushly decorated Aux Belles Muses brothel, you’ll encounter candlelit interiors that set the frame awash in a shadowy sepia tone that contrasts the cold blue-grey lighting outdoors. The game’s painstaking work in populating these interiors with detailed props recalls the production design of Bioshock Infinite or Beyond: Two Souls, and even more vividly, it evokes the lush period cinematography of Steven Soderbergh’s television show The Knick.
What’s so refreshing about The Order is that the game sides with Lakshmi and Devi’s resistance movement and gives them agency and space outside the goals of Sir Galahad. Contrast this narrative decision with the casually racist undertones of Bioshock Infinite’s similar class rebellion tale. Bioshock Infinite introduces resistance leader Daisy Fitzroy and initially sympathizes with her reasonable grievances against the rampant racism of the caricatured version of Americana in which she lives. Later in her story arc, Daisy Fitzroy and her class struggle is unexpectedly and woefully demonized as stark raving mad for no discernible purpose other than for cheap dramatic twists. It asks of the player to disregard all initial sympathy for the racially-charged class struggle even when Daisy’s story was by far the most compelling element of Columbia’s twisted world. In The Order: 1886, women of color are not only treated with deeper consideration but are never exploited for such abrupt dramatics.
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