Neocore Games’ mighty, meaty Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr ($59.99) should have come with an advisory that if you like the game, you’re going to have to be completely committed to long-hauling it from the get-go. It’s a demanding and addictive time chomping experience that kicks off with an about 45-minute set of tutorial missions that ease you into the swing of things before it rips away most of its training wheels and lets you carve your own route through its astounding wealth of randomly generated missions. There’s a nicely spread out story here that has your Inquisitor of choice attempting to solve the mystery surrounding an ancient warship packed full of heretics, mutants, xenos and Daemons of the Chaos Gods. Detective work isn’t your sole task, thankfully. You’ll definitely get to do quite a load of daemon dispatching as you uncover assorted clues during your journey.
While you can indeed compare what’s here to Diablo III on a few fronts, the game feels like more of a throwback to Crusader: No Remorse, Origin Systems’ excellent PC (and later, console) classic from 1995. Partially destructible objects, alarms that summon packs of enemies and a few more familiar elements from that game appear here, but the game also has more than enough loot dropping, skills, upgrades and rewards to keep even the most jaded players quite busy. As with a few other games in my rather large backlog, I’ve held off doing a full review because the game really needed to be patched up so I could give a it a solid recommendation. The latest patch (1.0.5) now makes this one a greater (yet still flawed) game rather than a somewhat decent one that needed a lot more polish.
Your chosen Inquisitor comes in three character classes, each with variants that allow for different play styles. If you love your “tank” class, go for the Crusader. Those who love death from a distance should choose the Assassin class, while players who want a more mage-like detective/killer can play the Psyker class. Each has its pros and cons, but all are excellent and become better as you increase in level and improve their skills. While you can run a few characters in separate save files, if you’re new to these sorts of games and are easily overwhelmed, feel free to start as one character and once you’re used to things, fire up another and bounce between save files.
No matter how you play, the game is a mix of simple to super-challenging missions where you can tailor bits of the experience to become more rewarding. There’s a plot here where your Inquisitor(s, if you’re playing co-op) discovers the seemingly abandoned fortress/well-armed monastery called Martyr is actually packed with daemons and a group of survivors who you assist. Escaping with a sole survivor just before the ship warps away, back at your base of operations you discover he needs specialized medical care thanks to his grievous wounds. It’s then off to the races for some exploration, lots of killing and more plot points than you can shake a stick at (before bashing a demon to glorious gibs with, of course).
You can follow the story in a somewhat linear fashion, but those too tempting side missions will get you distracted constantly because as with other games in the ARPG genre, the chances for new loot are great and new experience and better skills even more tempting. It’s kind of like going to work one day and getting distracted by a trail of dollar bills that leads into a dark alley with many, many more bills. Er, and some daemonic killer creeps guarding that spilled stash well. Fortunately, you’re the person packing some decent weapons in your briefcase or bag, so getting that loot isn’t too tricky. Er, sometimes.
The game will churn out assorted random maps and you’ll have the option to play easy to eyeball-popping hard as hell maps at your leisure. You’re given a difficulty ranking before jumping in and it’s best to pay attention because if you go into a map far beyond your current level, the enemies will mop the floor with you. Or, the cleanup crew that comes in later will be mopping up what’s left of you, heh. On the flip side, some of the easier maps are total cakewalks that can build a false sense of overconfidence if those are all you play. The challenge and rewards are greater on the tougher maps, but if you’re easily frustrated, you’ll want to either grab a co-op buddy for offline or online play or play the maps you can and hope the loot gods RNG up some cool drops.
There’s also what you could call a rather wry sense of humor throughout as your Inquisitor uncovers clues and evidence and/or meets NPCs that have their own take on things or just respond to your character with their own droll quips. There aren’t any laugh out loud bits, it’s more of a “Well. Plan A has failed, let’s see how badly Plan B doesn’t work, either” sort of thing. The launch version had a few typos which seems to have been addressed, but I’ll need to replay some parts of the campaign at some point to check on those.
Where the original release stuttered and hitched on some simple screens such as the planet traveling, the patched version zips along more comfortably. You’ll still encounter pesky screen tearing no matter which PS4 you own. Gameplay elements such as ranged aiming, activating explosive barrels and interacting with other parts of the environments have been tweaked up to make for an overall better experience. I actually stopped playing this after about a week of on and off play back when it was released because the game was too wonky to the point it crashed a few too many times. While I didn’t lose any levels gained, missions that ended abruptly meant lost loot and/or having to try again, but on a new map because the game randomizes missions upon a reset. This seems to still be part of the updated version still requiring an online connection for leaderboards and playing with up to 4 others online, but I’m hoping this can be fixed up sooner than later.
As with Diablo III’s Adventure Mode, this randomness makes for a truly replayable game where you’ll see more than enough variety despite some maps reusing the same environments and enemy types. For me, the indoor maps here fare better than the outdoor ones with their elevated portions and the occasional getting temporarily caught in a firefight where you’ll get hung up on a ledge for a second or three before you can recover. But overall, the level of detail in the maps is well done. Well, except for those outdoor ice maps where crashed mechs and busted gear make them look like someone was operating the most efficient AA guns ever created.
No matter which sort of map you play, enemies are all relentless, coming at you sometimes from multiple sides and doing their best to make sure you’re not leaving that map. You get the ankle-biters swarming in fast, ranged gun and skill users to keep the pressure up and some real bruiser types to make you reconsider your hobby choice. Add in sub to full on bosses that summon respawning baddies and often tight corners, traps and other hazards and yep, you get a brutally efficient mass of killing machines (and daemon/machine hybrids) just trying to collect their digital paychecks. Each class has a few skills made for crown control and you’ll be able to use a few devices placed on maps such as turrets, explosives and the aforementioned exploding barrels. Er, just don’t blow yourself or a buddy playing up as that’s kind of poor for team morale.
There’s an online Cabal system where you can form or join a group of like-minded Inquisitors for some Chaos-crushing fun. Or you can hop online and play the campaign or random maps with total strangers if that’s your thing. To be frank, I didn’t mess with the online outside a few hours over three days at a friend’s place on his account when I was watching his dopey dog who was attention hounding me as soon as I sat down to play. Dude, I fed you, walked you AND played with you (for over two hours, grrr!). I found out that pooch is a big baby and a super lap dog (which I was warned about, but didn’t think he was that lap-happy). Hey, you try to win matches with some 27-pound goofy mutt trying to noodge into your nether regions as if he’s found some treasure to dig up.
So, yes, it’s thumbs up on this one, folks., especially if you want a game were you’re getting more than your money’s worth in the form of endless replay value. I suppose mote character variety outside the slim customization options would have been cool, and yes, there needs to be more patches done. But when things click, the click well enough and it’s quite a thrill to send some Daemons back to whence they came. The game also seems to stick close enough to the 40K canon to not trip over itself catering to every player’s whimsy, a good thing for some purists, I’d imagine. In any event, just jump into the pool feet first and guns, swords, bombs and skills blazing. You’ll be fine with what’s here and yes indeed, coming back for more despite a few cracks in the armor..
Score: B (80%)
Review code provided by the publisher