Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr has emerged to reintroduce us to the Warhammer 40k universe, and speaking of things emerging, in a somewhat Event Horizon-style plotline a huge floating monastery called Martyr suddenly appears in the game after going missing for a very long time. Supposedly derelict, the God-Emperor sends out his Inquisitors to investigate, but all is not as abandoned as once thought. In a universe filled with violence, hate, and darkness, the future is bleak according to the world of Warhammer 40k, so what could be better than an outing in a Diablo-style top-down dungeon RPG?
It's impossible not to compare any game of this ilk with the benchmark that is Diablo, but Neocore Games has done enough to make sure this game stands out with its design choices. The first thing you're going to notice is that the game feels different to your standard RPG, as the developers made the choice to slow it down, including fewer enemies than Blizzard's game, but making them overall harder to kill.
This speed kind of suits the style of a tabletop game, and the inclusion of cover is also a nice touch, which is supposed to give a more tactical edge to the experience. And we say 'supposed to' as the cover seems to be destroyed way too easily, and much of the time we just found ourselves pressing buttons in open combat. Your weapons have a range of actions, but each time you press a button you have to wait for the weapon to fire again and the fact that the enemies lived longer made it feel almost laboured.
There are three characters to choose from, all of which seem very much based on your typical dungeon crawler personalities. The Psyker is basically a warlock who uses magic and warp portals to take down the baddies; the Sniper looked like she was just missing a bow and arrow to be a rogue; while the Crusader is pretty self-explanatory. We just spent a bit of time hoping for the inclusion of a dwarf with an axe: no dice, sadly.
We played most of our time as the Crusader who stands there and pummels out justice, but each of your characters have a unique upgrade tree and are brought to life with some overly dramatic voice acting that suits the tone. In fact, most of the sound effects and music seem to make it feel like a pretty well-rounded experience.
The design of the levels and character models is pretty lush, with hulking chaos beasts to kill and rocky tundra to march through. The initial levels are all set in the monastery which has the typical gothic style and is synonymous with the series, however, you only spend a bit of time on the Martyr, and soon you're left exploring a huge galaxy full of planets, looking for clues to help you uncover the secrets of the Martyr.
With this kind of series it's safe to say that some explanation is needed, and Neocore Games has included as much of the heavy lore contained in the franchise as they can. They've done a great job of making it feel like the miniatures that many of us have hand painted have come to life, even down to the extensive list of items like Bolters and Swords that can be found and equipped.
This brings us on to our next bugbear though, as when you pick up an item during a level, you can't just equip it; you have to wait till your next mission. Then, the actual screens to equip seem a bit too PC-focused for a console fan, and there's not as much info as we'd perhaps have liked. With something as important as gear and weapons, this dents the experience noticeably.
Once you're past the early levels, you're kind of on your own and you have to work out what's happening, although it's not exactly intuitive. The characters you meet end up becoming quest givers and item shops, but there are things like tarot cards which can improve your chance of finding cool items. It sounds pretty cool on paper, but it can be a little daunting at first. We recommend playing through the confusion barrier, because it's worth it in the end.
Your quests take you to some far-flung regions and up against some pretty stunning enemies. You're faced with a pretty huge range of baddies from your typical cannon fodder to your hulking lords of chaos, and each one seemed to bring the miniatures to life in a very entertaining fashion. That's not to mention the fact that some of them are pretty tough to kill, due to the fact they use the cover and deploy turrets, which makes the game much more fun to play than first expected.
The problem is that so many of the missions are pretty repetitive, which is another area where it loses ground on Diablo. Even though you go to a variety of different environments, you soon feel like you're playing the same thing over and over again, as once you've seen one bleak and desolate place you've seen them all.
The campaign is a pretty solid single-player experience that might have been improved with some co-op action, but that said, there are a variety of other modes available for local and online network play. This does mean that, at times, the campaign can feel a little lonely, but it doesn't detract from the experience too much.
All in all, this is a pretty solid RPG, as there's a shedload of content to get your teeth into, and it's really deep in its lore. If you're a fan of the genre or the franchise, you should take a look at this as it's a break from the norm, and you can pump hours or days into this and still not be done. Sadly though, the repetition and clunky item system hit the game where it matters most, but that doesn't mean we weren't happy to dish out some pain in our hulking armour.
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