Warhammer has always been a piece of my life. I remember the early days of playing D&D style adventures during lunch breaks at school that culminated in epic battles using carefully painted figurines that spread across a battlefield of huge proportions in the common room. The Warhammer club was in full swing!
The Warhammer universe has made steady progression across digital platforms for many years and Neocore’s latest offering, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr finally hit consoles in Summer. For the sake of this article I am going to refer to the game simply as Martyr from now on.
Are you ready to purge the unclean and protect the Imperium from corruption? Lets get on with it!
In a first for the Warhammer 40K Universe, Martyr is branded as an open-world sandbox Action RPG that takes a top down approach similar to Diablo (and even Cannon Fodder, if you’re old enough to remember that one). There is a huge storyline to follow and an abundance of mission types on randomly generated maps to wade through as well as co-op and pvp modes.
Martyr sees you play as an Inquisitor (An elite agent of the Imperium of Man) that must deploy to the grim Caligari Sector to basically destroy every rogue and monster that dares to defy the Emperor’s rule. They are a bit like the secret police of the 40K world, but without any courtesy.
The three classes that you can choose from are a sneaky but deadly Assassin, a devastating Psyker with powerful abilities and finally an armoured all guns-a-blazing Crusader. Each of the characters come with their own weapons, unique skill-sets and varying level of armour. Depending on how you like to play will determine which of the Inquisitors you should be. Do you love to hide and be a little stealthy with your kills? or do you like to be the gatecrasher to a party that kicks down the door and owns the dancefloor? If it is the latter I recommend the Crusader!
You begin the campaign by arriving at a huge spaceship monastery called “Martyr” which has been taken over by hungry daemons and cultists and you begin your investigation into what has happened. The first mission acts more as a “tutorial” as you learn how to fire your weapons, hide behind cover and activate doors to the next areas. I put the word “tutorial” in speech marks as there is nothing gentle to how Martyr prepares the player, opting for brief onscreen mini texts to guide you and then the piece of information then resides in a giant encyclopedia that you can access/fumble for during the game hidden in the menus. The gameplay is standard hack and slash all the way through with the odd puzzle thrown in for good measure and the story takes you way beyond where you initially start with certain decisions that you make affecting the plot.
There is a huge emphasis on collecting loot in order to obtain new equipment that when worn contributes to an average power score that is very similar to the system found in games such as Destiny. The game mechanic unfortunately serves to be more of a hindrance at times whereby a low piece of equipment imposes a penalty on your attack and defence stats when you try and take on a mission that requires a higher overall power score. This forces you to ditch the high value pieces and downgrade to lower versions in order to play a lower value mission and swerve the imposed penalties. One thing I did notice that was a little annoying was that you cannot equip new items on the fly during the game, you have to goto the hub out of the mission, for me this ruined the fun of finding new loot items and straight away playing with them to see if they were any good.
Each of the three characters has three sub classes which you are allowed to swap between, each having their own special abilities. The Crusader has Assault, Tactical and Heavy Gunner, the Assassin has Infiltrator, Sniper and Eradicator and the Psyker has Empyreanist, Aetherwalker and Scryer. Each class allows you to play with a variety of weapons and traits that provide you with different tactical approaches when slaying the enemy. It is down to you to master them quickly as each have variable recharge times and penalties if they are overused.
The characters initially move fairly slowly during early missions, which I found a bit tedious at first, however there are stats that can be increased to better this later on. The actual fighting of the enemy I found to be quite chaotic at times. The right stick of the controller allows you to rotate the camera and where this would of been an ideal way of turning the character on the spot to aim their weapon, you find that instead movement and aiming is all done by the left stick. Surely a twin stick shooter setup would have worked better here? The result is a lot of shooting around the area and occasionally hitting your intended target. When in a battle rather than be a case of easily mowing down the baddies and throwing a few grenades to weaken the slightly tougher ones, what you face is infact a nightmare. If you have ever played games such as The Division you will appreciate that there are certain enemy that just take hit after hit without losing much health and you really have to grind at them to eventually destroy them. Well this is the case here and it happens right from the start of the campaign.
Very early on you are faced with monsters that force you to take cover while you shoot and wait for your weapon to recharge before doing it all over again, and here lies another problem with Martyr. The cover system is toot. Countless times I ran at what looked like a protective object to hide behind, only to find that it wasn’t designated as cover despite clearly looking like an object you could take refuge behind. When you do eventually find the correct cover your character has a habit of snapping to the wrong place, wasting time and ruining the element of surprise. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the cover that you use is far too flimsy and lightweight which makes it easily destroyed within seconds by the enemy, which is rubbish if you are playing as a character such as the Psyker or Assassin that relies on cover due to their lightweight armour. Ok this game will keep you on your toes when it comes to battles but seriously there were times that the Benny Hill theme tune would have been a better accompaniment as the backing soundtrack!
The graphics are well detailed with both the characters and environment looking amazing which is truly how you would imagine the Warhammer 40K universe would look. The lighting effects during the levels highlight particular areas of interest however it also aids to conceal what lies in the murky shadows, laying in wait for your arrival. I did find myself needing to brighten the screen slightly as there were times I completely missed things that should of been obvious. Missions vary across different environments from snowy mines, blood soaked spaceship corridors to watery caverns and all look pretty amazing. Environmental objects that can be activated highlight, destructible objects glow red while other objects that highlight can explode when damaged.
Both the soundtrack and voice acting is superb with masses of dialogue racked up throughout the campaign. Some of the voice actors have massively got into their roles which serves greatly to convey the ever unravelling storyline. The sound effects from your character running around different floor surfaces, weapons discharging, multiple explosions to the gurgling cries of enemies dying are spot on and immerse you into the Warhammer world nicely.
I got to around 20 hours of gameplay with my Crusader character and it is rumoured that it takes 50 hours to properly level up to the best stats therefore there is very long longevity if you have a huge amount of time to invest in the game. Remember there are 2 more classes of character you can be so you could have a potential 150 hours of gameplay if you are a die hard fan of the Warhammer series.
As well as the single player campaign there is the option for four player co-op which allows for a new flavour of combat. On the screen there is now a blend of different classes and abilities which aids to spice up the battles somewhat. A PvP mode also features whereby you battle against other similarly ranked players in a domination style match.
In conclusion, Martyr tries to be its own thing by being a slow, steady paced tactical action rpg and in essence plays nothing really like a Diablo style game. I would argue that for some it will be too slow and grindy whereby the tactical element is a little lame and repetitive. The character’s equipment power progression being hindered by the penalties imposed by it’s odd game mechanics don’t sit right with me and here it unfortunately loses some of it’s shine. Clearly though a lot of effort has been put into the storyline, graphics and audio as well as ensuring that the Warhammer world has been correctly brought to life based on it’s strong historic foundations. I did struggle to keep up my excitement at time when when playing, this title may prove to be a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it!
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr receives a Thumb Culture Silver award.
Disclaimer: A game code was received in order to complete this review.