The clumsily-named Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a top-down action-RPG set in the Warhammer 40,000 Universes. The title is made by Neocore Games, whom have made several games in the past including action-RPG The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. This is a game I have been anticipating since its announcement, coming from a developer which has created a good ARPG in the past, in Van Helsing, and featuring a beloved intellectual property. The game has recently released on Steam Early Access, and information on the steam page indicates that everyone will be starting anew with their characters once the game reaches full release.
Inquisitor has an open sandbox structure, with missions to select on a star map of the Caligari Sector, which includes a large number of solar systems with many points of interest where you will find those missions. The game can be played singleplayer, coop and also has adversarial multiplayer modes, though the meat of the game does seem to be player versus environment content. It is worth bearing in mind that this game is ‘always online’ though, so don’t go in expecting offline singleplayer. One particularly irritating reminder of this is the global chat box which continually pops up on menus and during gameplay, though mercifully this can be minimised.
Most of the game controls follow the standards for the genre established by the likes of Diablo, with left-click to move and attack enemies. Currently there are two available classes with the Crusader and Assassin, the latter also having dodge rolls which are bafflingly bound to QWSE not WASD. This is just the tip of the space hulk when it comes to clunkiness though, and while a lack of polish is entirely forgivable in an early access game Inquisitor takes this to extremes.
One of the worst offenders is the cover system which is just unpleasant to use. Coloured circles appear behind cover objects around you, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Dawn of War 2 or Company of Heroes, and holding space will slide you into cover at the closest. Entering and exiting cover feels really jarring and is often not particularly effective. This is due to the fact that most of the enemies I felt like I needed to take cover from used attacks which rapidly destroyed cover making it pointless.
Including a cover system is an unusual step for an ARPG which generally focus on mobility and keeping a rapid pace, and is indicative of the slower pace the Inquisitor is generally aiming for. Another mechanic which slows the pace is the addition of a suppression meter as well as the more traditional health bar, which depletes when you’re under attack from too many or too powerful enemies. At least in singleplayer managing these meters requires you to regularly disengage and retreat to a cleared room, which didn’t really feel right to be doing with my power-armoured character wielding an extremely large power sword.
Playing the game in coop as a team of four seemed to completely destroy this slower pacing, turning it into a headlong rush. Melee characters often didn’t even reach enemies before their allies turned them into a paste with their ranged weapons. This may be less of an issue if playing with a team or two or three, but it certainly seems that the enemy difficulty does not scale with the number of players. The problem is it makes coop trivially easy to the point of being unsatisfying.
That said I did still have more fun in coop than solo play, as the slow pacing of singleplayer did not feel satisfying either. Much of the time I was simply standing next to an enemy holding left mouse button while cycling through my weapon abilities. Each weapon has only two of these abilities with a pair of other abilities which seemed to be tied to your class/equipped armour. Players can relatively easily earn new weapons and as the game is developed I can see this system expanding nicely to include more variety. Alas, it is not in that state yet.
Players can easily swap in and out weapons, abilities and more when in the inventory section. This system is perfect for those knowing what they want equipped to perfectly build their character. Conversely, it also allows those unsure to swap bits in and out to find the balance that works for them. This is accessible while out of a mission, in what can best be described as a loading room. This is a nice-looking area where players can load missions and even buy different items and sell any loot earnt that isn’t fitting for them.
This loading room highlights a few of the visual treats of Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr. The depth of view of the environments sets them firmly into the game world. You can see other levels of the building below through the gratings-like floor tiles, something that is carried through to the map designs for the various levels which players can venture to. Though inaccessible, they give these areas scale making players rethink what are otherwise flat looking designs.
As mentioned, cover can be destroyed. This can turn a relatively safe hiding spot into an open walkway with enough firepower. Explosive barrels will naturally pop in a satisfying ball of flames but it is the otherwise solid cover that stands out. When shooting at pipes and other crate like objects they don’t instantly break and shatter. Instead they are whittled away by the gun fire and you can see the object breaking and bits be blown off. This is perhaps too quick for the cover to be useful as cover but it looks nice as bits of the world are destructed.
Overall, there is a core game in there that with effort from the developers can be polished into a gem of an action-RPG. The amount of polishing needed is extensive. at the moment; with the game feeling relatively clunky across the board. If you’re looking to jump in and experience the game early on in the development you can. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr will certainly be staying in in development for some time but some entertainment to be had. As the content increases this will certainly help the game shed itself of issues and become another solid title from Neocore Games.
[Editor’s Note: Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr was provided to us for preview purposes by the developers.]