The world of Warhammer 40k finally gets the action/RPG treatment in Inquisitor – Martyr from NeocoreGames. More or less, it was worth the wait.
The far future
It is the 41st millennium, and war rages. A never-ending conflagration has torn apart the galaxy, as the Imperium of Man has been locked in conflict with its enemies for what seems to be thousands of years. One of man’s gravest threats of all though, has become the scourge of Chaos.
The four dark gods of “Chaos” peer into the universe from rips in the Warp. Passages through spacetime itself that most races use to travel the stars, the Warp is only safe if your craft has something called Gellar shielding. If that fails, then the Cthulhu-like insanity of these other-dimensional beings can seduce and infect the living. In turn, that transforms these unfortunates, creating scions of the demonic gods. And that’s not even mentioning the actual demons (oh sorry, daemons) that can actually start manifesting in the physical plane.
Now, that’s some wickedly cool stuff there. What Games Workshop has done is to create a merger of fantasy and sci-fi elements. And that’s what makes up the backdrop that Inquisitor – Martyr plays out against.
The main character of the game is an Inquisitor, a representative of the head of the Imperium, the God-Emperor himself. His or her mission is to find a long-lost starship called the Martyr (hence the game’s name), and investigate the potential heresies happening within. And oh, are they happening.
Side note: Heretical goings-on are a very big part of the 40k universe. The head of the Imperium is genuinely considered to be a god, a machine-god, and pretty much everything else is treated as such too. Everything in the human part of 40k’s universe is soaked in gothic themes and religious talk. The effect is phenomenal in creating a tone, and still (even today) pretty darn unique.
The Martyr, and well beyond
While the Martyr is where your journey will begin in Inquisitor – Martyr, it’s not even close to the only location in the game. There are a galaxy of locales that you can visit in the game, by setting course from the bridge of your own ship.
Some of these worlds and space stations serve as one-offs and quick side quests. Some though, are entire mini-campaigns in and of themselves. Not that they’re all the long, but these quests can really provide a terrific way to lengthen the game and also give players a way to take a break from the main narrative.
Occasionally too, you can actually choose the means of initiating these missions. The Inquisitor can pick whether or not to try and influence events or just storm in, guns blazing. It is much too occasional though, and I would have liked to have seen an expansion of the mechanic, since it’s pretty fun and adds in another dimension of strategy.
Equipping a… hero?
The Inquisitor isn’t a hero, but not a villain by any stretch either. He or she is definitely not the kind of superhero that you might usually find in an action/RPG like Inquisitor – Martyr though. Honestly the Inquisitor is not even the “noble” barbarian that you might have played as in a game like Diablo III.
Instead, the Inquisitor is a character on a mission. And as I mentioned, it’s not the warmest and friendliest of missions. The Inquisitor is also not a pre-made character. Instead, you are tasked with picking from three different class types.
Crusader, Psyker, and Assassin are presented as choices at the top of the game, and they’re all fairly different. The Crusader is all action, the Psyker is the “magic” class, and the Assassin is the sneakier and quicker of the trio. But that’s not all that you can do since there’s a huge amount of equipping to be done throughout the game.
As you play you’ll encounter chests to be cracked open and plentiful drops from slain baddies.
These include guns, swords and axes, armor, and buffs aplenty. Some of this stuff is flat out awesome too, and I have developed a real attachment to lasguns. They’re freaking awesome, and I absolutely hate it when I “have” to set one aside for something more powerful. Not that you have to sorry about that in a mission.
In what has to be one of the most bizarre moves ever in a game like this, you cannot switch hardware (or anything else) in a mission. You instead have to wait till you get back to your ship, where you can choose to equip, sell, or stow what you’ve recovered. You can also craft new stuff by the way, or plain old buy it, all via characters that you pick up along the way in your adventures.
There’s no denying though, that this is frustrating. Picking up something that sounds awesome, but then not being able to try it out right away is not great. Also along the same lines, remember that anything that you do equip before you enter into a mission, you’re in turn stuck with for that level.
Inquisitor – Martyr has a very dark look to it most of the time. That’s a good thing by the way, since the visuals very well compliment the source material. Warhammer 40k isn’t all that cheerful you know, and this game capitalizes on that.
The looks of most of the levels carry through the staple 40k gothic vibe. That’s complete with over the top architecture and dreary interiors. Again though, I’m not complaining. Even though the graphics won’t bowl you over, how this game looks is very fitting and genuinely looks good. Oh, and almost all of the architecture I mentioned can be busted to pieces.
One of the things that I particularly like about any game is when the terrain is deformable, and that’s something that Inquisitor – Martyr does quite well. Most of the set dressing here is destroyable, and there’s actually a good reason for that. It’s because it’s all cover, but we’ll get back to that in a second.
I’d like to touch on the sound before we cut to the gameplay. While the music is kind of meh, the voice work is great. At times, it’s legitimately great, and at others it’s kind of bad/great. That’s completely dependent on which character we’re talking about. And of course, it also plays off of the script, which is spotty but good.
Controlling the inquisition
Have you played an action/RPG before? Then you won’t find anything too new about Inquisitor – Martyr. The game is very basic in terms of gameplay as you move around the maps, either shooting at or bludgeoning baddies. Though there are a few new elements for the genre in this game.
You have the ability to lay traps in horde-mode type levels and also loosely command squads of Imperial Guards, though all of that is pretty rare. What’s used in every map though, is the cover mechanic.
The Inquisitor can take cover behind most of the stuff in the game, including walls and stuff like computer consoles. Again though, all of that gets chewed up by enemy fire, and deteriorates. Honestly it deteriorates a little too quickly for my liking, and that’s one of the issues I had with it as a gimmick.
The other problem is that is seemed as though I could very rarely get it to work at all. I’d get hit pretty easily when trying to take cover, and couldn’t fire on the baddies all that reliably either. Since I played as the Crusader though, which is the action guy in the game, I didn’t really need the cover. Instead I just charged in and blasted the Chaos filth to pieces. I can’t say it wasn’t fun.
And yes I realize it might sound repetitive, but it really was fun to me, all the way through.
It is extremely hard not to feel like a total badass while playing this game. Even with all the warts, and there are a few, I had a ton of fun with Inquisitor – Martyr.
Even past the main quest, the game offers plenty to do and also even includes a co-op mode. Not that you can play co-op in the main quest, but it’s still fun to have. If you’re a fan of Warhammer 40k or just dig sci-fi aRPGs, I think you’ll find more than enough to dig about this one.
Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor – Martyr
Release Date: June 5th, 2018 (for PC)
Platform(s): PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4