NeoCoreGames has taken on one of the biggest challenges in the history of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise. With their attempt at bringing 3D-isometric gameplay into the series, we get to see what it takes, what comes with it and just how well Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr can deliver this potential. What we witnessed, wasn’t what we expected.
+Combines traditional isometric RPG mechanics with Warhammer 40K elements
+Dozens of missions that add onto hundreds of hours of replayability.
+PvP is an absolute blast and adds in a challenge for those who like to test their skill
+Multiplayer cooperative play online and local is a rarity and works insanely well for this title
-Crashes do happen from time to time
-Framerate dips can be problematic
Right now, it seems that the Warhammer 40,000 universe is absolutely in an amazing place with how many games are being set within its dark and gritty sci-fi universe. If you boot up any digital online store be it Android, iOS, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store or even Steam, and you’ll see a handful or ten of available games on the market for purchase.
In recent days we’ve seen magnificent titles come from the franchise such as Space Hulk: Deathwing by indie developer Streum on Studio and publisher Focus Home Interactive and now, here we are, another title with ambition and the ability to drive the franchise home into the interactive multimedia. With the prior being an FPS title and the latter being a top-down RPG in the style of franchises such as Diablo, Sacred, and Torchlight. Now, here we are, after a small delay with Warhammer 40K and an interesting variant of the already-established dungeon diving genre.
Much as one would expect, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a rather unique take on both the dungeon diving action seen in one such genre and the mechanics seen in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop version. Now, here we are, 3 years after the game had originally been unveiled and given its first look to fans of the franchise and now, with the Inquisitors of the Imperium at the forefront, it’s time to see what the team behind the Van Helsing action-adventure RPG series can do with Warhammer 40,000.
Much like your directives in Van Helsing, not much changes with Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, which is almost narratively the same in many ways. However, unlike Helsing, the Inquisitors are a judge, a juror, and the executioner. They care little not for what excuses may play out. They are about one thing and one thing only: carrying out the Emperor of Mankind’s will. In Warhammer 40,000 the job of an Inquisitor sounds short, easy, and one that comes with little hesitation, which is true through and through, but something else is going on. This time around, your inquisitor isn’t just investigating a distress beacon that had been detected, instead, it’s no longer a single-investigation matter.
Instead, much like games such as Diablo, you’re investigating a matter that threatens the entirety of the universe ranging from a small rebellion to large-scale incursions from the warp by the Chaos Gods, the Tyranids, Orks or even Nekrons. But more often than not, they are sent to investigate something that is a universe-wide threat, one that could wipe out any form of life throughout the known reaches of space. Now, just as you’d imagine, our Inquisitor didn’t and is now on a full-blown investigation to find out the truth behind a ship known as the “Martyr”. Sadly, just as you would expect, the shit has hit the fan and now it’s time for your character to stop an impending doom from devastating all of mankind.
But before we begin our investigation of an ancient Monastery ship that has been all-but-forgotten by time, we first have to create our character, which is a rather simple affair. You’ll choose a class ranging from the caster (Psyker, the telepaths of the Imperium), the warrior/fighter (Crusader) and of course, your marksman (archer). With each of these primary classes comes three subclasses, each specializing in their own unique forms of combat ranging from melee weapons to a mix of close-ranged combat with pistols and cannons of sorts (yes, Plasma Cannons do exist, as do Storm Maces and the likes).
Once you’ve chosen your class, your subclass, and named your character, off you go, whisked onto the Martyr. On the Martyr, your investigation quickly takes a turn for the worse as you are forced to face down against your foes, men, and women who once called the vessel home. Now, they are deranged creatures, ones who have been irrevocably altered by the warp and have become tainted by Chaos. If you ask me, they might as well have blown this giant cathedral that had been hip-thrust into outer space into oblivion.
But, alas, something stops this from happening, a band of Space Marine survivors who were part of the original Requisition retinue that had been assigned to this mission. The odd part of this all? The leader of the Requisition is an Inquisitor himself. Not like we didn’t see that one coming from a mile away, but this isn’t a bad thing, and it does happen to thicken the plot quite a bit, which is nice in one such game that draws inspiration from a well-established universe.
After a few good hours of playing, things begin to get more interesting, and in good Sacred, Diablo, and Titan Quest fashion, your hub opens up rather quickly, filling itself with NPCs that help drive your story forward, craft your items and make your character the killing machine they need to be.
Sadly, you have to do this for every character you create, but fortunately for you, the stash is shared, which means you can stash an arsenal in it and have another character take advantage of its existence. As you level, you will find customization isn’t at face value, but rather, it runs extremely deep within this game.
First, your character’s appearance can’t be changed outside of the armor you equip. Second, customization itself is in regards to the Attributes and Skills that you decide to invest into, allowing you to create a character that may better excel at close-quarters combat while trading off their medium-to-long-range capabilities or optimizing themselves for the use of their abilities. However, unlocking them isn’t like your traditional action-RPG like Diablo or Sacred. You don’t just smash your way through every enemy possible for slivers of your XP bar filling up.
Instead, “XP” is earned by completing Heroic Deeds such as “Use ‘x’ ability ‘x’ amount of times” or “Kill ‘X’ amount of enemies with only melee weapons”. Each of these will unlock new Perks that you can use to enhance your inquisitor’s combat capabilities. If you played Wolfenstein: The New Order or Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, you’ll have a fair idea of what you’ll need to do to enhance your Attributes and your Skills.
Just as you would expect, there are a few things to take into consideration here. First off, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had. There is an insane amount of replayability in this game. First on the list is the side missions you can explore. All of them come with various objectives ranging from “Assassination”, which sees to it that you eliminate specified targets to destroying enemy bases by taking out mortar placements and using them against your foes. While there are plenty more, those are the more commendable ones, the ones that offer a challenge that’ll beat your skull in without ever batting an eye.
Brutal, huh? Well, it doesn’t stop there. Just like Diablo, Sacred, or Titan Quest, NeoCoreGames has also opted for the top-down birds-eye view approach to their game. Surprisingly enough, it works out rather well for Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, especially due to the use of the ability to take cover against objects that are randomly placed on every map (i.e. specific structures and barricades).
Cover, which is new to most loot grind-based games, is valuable in WH4K: Inquisitor – Martyr. Cover, more often than not, can save you from a life-or-death situation and give the edge you need against an angry horde of Chaos Marines looking to turn you into their next sacrifice to their gods. Sadly, cover can’t always be used nor should it be as it does take away the excitement when you have a Hellbrute or a Daemon Engine plowing through the battlefield with your death as its primary objective.
Now, let me make this clear. There are varied difficulties across every mission. Each is highlighted by their minimally required power level, which will help determine what you can and can not do. Some are better left alone until later in the game. The option to choose difficulties for some of your missions is readily available, allowing you to crank it up to your power level or higher. This isn’t always advised and does come with the “you will die if you aren’t ready” warning label gauging from gray to red numbers indicating what is too easy and what is way too hard.
Sadly, the difficulty doesn’t scale as one would expect. Instead, it goes somewhere between “easy” to “screw this, you’re dead and will die over and over again” without tossing you a bone. My first time into Challenging, I felt as if someone had put me right before Diablo himself and let him swat me around on a level one character on the highest levels of Torment in Diablo III. After that brutal beating, my only reprieve was to turn it down a notch, head into the basic Story and lick my wounds like a sore little loser.
But oddly enough, some of my bad luck wasn’t tied to the games overall difficulty in its “Challenging” mode, but rather, some of it was my lack of paying attention to the tutorials, which the entire first chapter basically is. Some of it, was not playing my class right, it was by playing it completely wrong and not taking advantage of what a Crusader can actually do. After all, who thought to charge up the shots with the shotgun or the Plasma Cannon? Apparently not this guy.
If you manage to skip over the tutorials and not read them through, you can actually revisit them at any time, especially the ones that the game some reason skips out on once you make it into the base campaign itself and really get into the meat of it all. The only drawback behind these tutorials is they aren’t really… Instructional, but rather tips that provide little-to-no example on what to do or how to do it best.
Throw me a bone guys, I need one here! But on-wards we go. When it comes to performance on a PlayStation 4 Pro, there were noticeable moments when the game would begin to chug and the hardware (or game) would begin to struggle. Framerates would begin to dip below their targeted (we’re going out on a limb here) 60FPS only to hit what felt like 20-30fps at most only to catch back up when the action stopped.
But the oddest part of this all, the framerate dipping only happened on specific tilesets ranging from the Chaos-infested tilesets to the ship-based ones while planet-side type missions remain unaffected. While the graphics are as beautiful as they are – and by the Emperor they are beautiful – it did take away from their beauty, their precise measurements of the artistic nature behind Warhammer 40,000. Resolutions, however, remained clear, even at 1440p on a 4K LG TV that runs God of War like a champ.
Sadly, the framerate dips aren’t the worst issue we’ve had thus far. During our time with the game (some of which we streamed via our YouTube Gaming page), we ran into quite a few crashes, more than we’d care to admit. Some were basic story mission’s that one needs to complete in order to progress. Others were as simple as standing in the central hub and looking over gear. It was random and without reason. Sadly, crashes do remain a major problem, even with how great the game actually is, this is a problem which needs sorted out, which is part of the delay behind the release of our review.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Edition Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Maximum Games
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: Standard: $59.99 | Deluxe: $64.99 | Imperium: $79.99
Even now, the crashes don’t remain adjusted and they remain problematic. Luckily, this can be fixed and shouldn’t deter you from at least giving the game a chance. It’s a worthwhile game with the promise of already being expanded upon by NeoCoreGames with a Season Pass that has a hefty outline of planned content for the future. If that’s the case, here’s to hoping we get to see some of the franchises most renowned factions making an appearance ranging from Genestealers to the overwhelmingly creepy Tyranids as we explore the deeper reaches of the Martyr’s endeavors with Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.