Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr’s PC version has released out of early access, roughly a month before console gamers will be able to get their hands on the game. We took a look at the Steam version of the game, marking the end of a long journey. Here’s our review.
The pre-release period for Martyr has been quite the buildup, as we first saw a presentation and went hands on with it back in 2016. We saw it at both E3 and Gamescom that year, met with Neocore Games to have a hands on session as well. The code for their action RPG felt early at the time, a bit like playing something like Titan Quest. Nevertheless, plenty of promise that made sure we kept an eye on the game.
It wasn’t until a full year later that the game made the step into early access though, and from my perspective it’s been a good step. From those early days where it was mostly an action RPG framework that felt a tad generic, the game’s evolved to a living and breathing Warhammer 40,000 game that’s firmly grounded in the series’ lore. For example, missions often take place inside space hulks with corridors that give you extra challenges in combat, whereas that first alpha slice was in an open area – something seen in so many action RPGs before this one.
Of course this means that there’s a story campaign which will resonate well with those already invested in the 40K brand – having started with Dark Imperium in the last year certainly helped me. A history with the universe isn’t required though, as Neocore has done a good job of introducing players to the story and its background – not just through story missions, but also a wide array of (optional) side missions and characters to engage with and learn from.
Playing as an Inquisitor means you’re extremely powerful, and will often face off against overwhelming numbers of enemies. You have a choice between melee, ranged and magic-oriented characters, but unfortunately much of the combat felt like a case of left clicking as much and as quickly as possible. Not a personal complaint by the way, since I absolutely adored the old Diablo games and they were exactly that.
Many Warhammer fans might appreciate a bit more character/role building in their game though, and while Martyr doesn’t fully provide this in combat it does a great job at this in other areas. You don’t just pick a class, you also get to develop certain specializations and skills – using a huge tech tree that allows for a lot of customization. And it might not affect combat much on a tactical level (that choice is pretty much made when you choose your class), but it certainly does alter the general feel of the game – mostly due to the fact that the in-game battle animations and the weapons used can look spectacular.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a grim and dark atmosphere kind of game – it’s Warhammer 40k, after all. We’ve seen the look in previous games (though Dawn of War 3 went a little more mainstream with it), and the audiovisual presentation is true to the source material here as well. There’s the visual aspect, but the story is also told using the usual grand and dramatic narrative style the series is known for. I thought it was a great fit for this adventure-driven game, but I know it’s not for everyone.
Speaking of other players – you have the option of going into Martyr solo or using the game’s cooperative multiplayer mode. I’ve only experimented a little with the latter, which lets you go into combat with up to four Inquisitors at once. There are special bonuses involved with playing this way, but for the most part the experience is similar to what you get in single player. That’s not to say that there’s no diversity though, as you can set conditions for missions prior to entering them to increase your chances of certain rewards.
And yet, the procedurally generated nature of the game’s missions gave me the feeling that things started to blend together after a while – quite possibly also because the combat dynamics are fun but not exactly deep. This is especially true after you wrap up the story campaign and are “stuck” with just the procedurally generated content – which there is an almost infinite amount of as you travel the universe with your Inquisitor. Luckily, Neocore is planning (free) story addons in the shape of additional seasons.
Martyr’s console versions were recently postponed by about a month, and part of me wishes the PC version had been too. Despite the amazing amount of work and polish since I last saw the game about 10 months ago, a few small bugs and performance issues still popped up from time to time. It’s too bad that these weren’t ironed out before the release, as they detract from an otherwise solid action RPG experience in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Clearly best suited to a certain target audience and with shortcomings that will deter others, Neocore’s attempt at bringing the franchise to a new genre feels like it’s mostly a success.