Best known for adapting Blood Bowl to PC and consoles, the Styx titles, and numerous Tour de France cycling games, this time around Cyanide Studio is working on a different board game adaptation based on a Game Workshop property. The time has come for the French outfit to have a go at Space Hulk with Space Hulk: Tactics, a game that's scheduled for release this year on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. During the What's Next event held by publisher Focus Home Interactive, we were able to talk to the developers and get an overview of the project.
Space Hulk has been a popular subject of video games in the past, and you may recall Full Control's two turn-based Space Hulk adaptations released a few years back. This is the first modern Space Hulk game in which you can play from a point of view other than that of just the Marines. The first campaign throws you in command of a Blood Angels squad while the second campaign gives you control of Genestealers, a vanguard of Tyrannids. Each of them has a specific gameplay flavour of their own. Humans advance methodically by inflicting damage from a distance, while the aliens rely on numerical superiority and melee attacks. The latter is on the defence, while the Marines are always on the attack. The two campaigns aren't linked, at least not as far as we could tell, and according to the developers they are separated in time by several thousand years.
The game retains an authentic look and feel that fans of the board game will recognise, with what amounts to a card-based structure. Each unit and its improvements are compiled into a deck of sorts. At the beginning of each game and turn, you draw your hand and deploy your squad. However, you'll need to carefully prepare yourself if you're going to achieve your goals. In the mission that was demoed, you had to start a fire at a specific place in the level. To successfully burn this nest of Genestealers, you will have to keep your flamethrower-carrying Space Marines alive, an escort mission of sorts. Rest assured, however, if you're a fan of the license or if you played Space Hulk: Ascension from Full Control Studios, you will quickly find your groove.
This new rendition of Space Hulk gives us access to added depth in several ways. When it comes to the units they can be tailored with a wide range of equipment and different paint jobs. This customisation allows you to personalise your units down to the smallest detail, something that those who enjoy painting the models may well enjoy.
The game also has a map editor, and this will allow you to share your creations and scenarios with the wider community. The latter appears very accessible, with an interface that simply tasks you with pasting boxes and lines side by side in order to create rooms and corridors. The rest is taken care of by the game itself. Several environments are available as you reach the end of the campaigns, based around Eldar, Imperium, and Ork respectively. The latter is simply gorgeous with warm colours and a very pleasant atmosphere (Orks wouldn't have it any other way).
The graphics are pretty decent but far from spectacular. However, different camera options allow us to view the action in more interesting ways. You obviously have a top-down view that allows you to have an overview of the battle (this one will no doubt be your go-to perspective), but there is also a first-person camera for those looking to immerse themselves completely. You can, if you wish, see the action from behind your soldier's helmet and thus have their vision of the immediate area. It's not the most convenient because you have no idea what might be hiding behind a wall or a door, but it's fun and very immersive.
Naturally, you'll be able to test your skills online against other players. In this part of the game, you can play as the Genestealers or four types of Space Marines: Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, and Dark Angels. Each faction has gameplay and abilities of its own. And that last part could easily leave room to bring in potential expansions in the future. Something conceivable, although the developers assured us that no loot box system was being considered. Either way, Space Hulk: Tactics is set to take a turn on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and we're looking forward to seeing whether it can capture the atmosphere of the IP. If it does, Cyanide might have a hit on its hands.