Warhammer 40,000. Set 40,000 years into the future. Or, perhaps, in the year 40,000, which I suppose would technically only be 38,000 years into the future. But we all know that 40,000 is actually the number of Warhammer games that have been released since 2010. So many, in fact, that subtitles are having to double up. Warhammer: 40,000: Inquisitor: Martyr takes longer to say than it does to summarise - it's Warhammer Diablo.
Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor: Martyr is an Early Access release. As part of our new policy regarding Early Access titles, which can cost a significant amount of money, we will be treating this as a review. We will look to revisit Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor: Martyr at a later date, updating the review and adjusting the score as necessary.
Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor: Martyr has been in Early Access since August 31st. Since then Neocore Games has released five patches (as of September 21st, 2017), ranging from minor hotfixes to medium-sized updates that have added new content.
The updates are arriving regularly and Neocore representatives are quick to respond to any issues over on W40K: Inquisitor Martyr's Steam discussion section. There is also a vibrant Discord community where several Neocore staff are available to speak to.
Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor: Martyr's content roadmap currently only runs until September 2017 with the Alpha 3.0 update.
NeoCore is targeting a 2018 release for the complete version of Warhammer 40K: Inquisitor.
You and a posse of your chums (or internet randos, if such is your wont) wander through random-ish dungeons (some of which literally look like dungeons, others of which might be the extreme pinnacles of kilometers-tall towers, but it's all the same difference) fighting wave after wave of faceless chaos scrubs who really ought to have worked it out by now that they're likely to get killed by heavily armed warrior knights the moment they first blurt "Blood for the blood god!". In fact, in classic grindy RPG style, levels almost always consist of killing everyone you see. I mean, sometimes, you'll need to destroy the portals they're coming in through in order to finish the level or something like that, but to all intents and purposes, it's shoot, shoot, shoot. Or maybe stab a bit, if that's your thing.
W40K:I:M is still in alpha, so for that, it's important to consider that some things can and will change between now and its official 'launch'. That said, in some areas, it's looking very complete - possibly too complete, with subsystems that seem to have been developed for little real overall increase to the fun factor. Fate, glory, targeted shots, crafting, customisable fortresses, cover, destructible terrain, implants... it goes on and on, and in many cases, the difference between one purity seal and another might not really be hugely apparent. I felt the same way about city development in Neocore's King Arthur games back in the day. Good idea, but bolting on more and more subsystems doesn't automagically increase the fun.
What does increase fun is storming around on a hive world blasting chaos marines with a powered heavy flamer! Right? Right! And up to a point, it is fun. Enemies pour in, wave after wave, and they're only too eager to explode in a shower of gibs at the earliest opportunity. Body parts go flying, bad guys get torn to shreds... it's extremely messy. For the most part, W40K: Inquisitor: Martyr expects the same level of tactical acumen that Diablo does - sure, for the most part, you're just clicking on bad guys to make them die, but your choices in all of the other systems up to the point where you're in the thick of it really decide how you're going to play. But wait! Didn't I just say that the surfeit of subsystems was a bad thing? Well, no, just that they don't add significantly to the overall fun of the thing. You choose the weapons you want, the add-ons you want and the mission you want to undertake, and aside from a little running away when things get hairy, there's not really a huge amount of player choice beyond this. It's like Football Manager with Space Marines.
Of course, it's nothing at all like Football Manager with Space Marines. But hopefully, you get my point. Like Diablo, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor: Martyr is all about collecting the stuff, upgrading the stuff and watching those sweet, sweet numbers going up. There are some cool set-piece boss fights, but they're usually handled by just nova-ing all your specials and piling in until you're nearly dead, then beating a retreat, cooling down, and stomping back in to finish the job. Of course, with time and when the game is finished, there may be far more in the way of finesse in the long run. But for now, these tactics seemed perfectly suitable for the job at hand. Cover is essentially entirely worthless - it's hard to hit anything when you're in cover, and melee-focused bad guys will still swarm you. That said, there is cover everywhere, so if that's your thing, there's plenty to explore I suppose.
At the moment, the story is extremely light and disjointed. Some so-called story missions have no dialogue or actual story attached, and some random pick-up missions are fully voiced with your handlers weighing in every time you destroy a portal or fell a boss. If you're really interested in immersing yourself in the rich Warhammer 40,000 setting, it might be worth hanging on until these bits are properly finished. Insofar as reporting bugs, there is an inbuilt tool, but there were too many hoops for me to jump through, such as entering contact details, that I didn't have time for, so the bugs I tried to report went unreported. It might just be that I'm grumpy and impatient, and certainly, for those who want to be involved with the alpha to have their say, this might be less of a worry.
Some levels require the killing of all enemies in the level, and when there are just a handful left, you can find yourself going round and round aimlessly looking for them. The levels are evocatively created for the most part, and match the look and feel of the W40K universe perfectly, so aimless wandering isn't too unpleasant. At the moment, there’s a ton of optimization that needs doing, and everything can chug really noticeably at the slightest provocation.
…And so it is, with grim inevitability, I end up judging it as a paid product, for which you will have to part with 50 hard-earned dollars to play. But as games publishers chuck games out at each and every point in the design cycle, so it is harder and harder to grasp what exactly is fair to say about them. If they’re asking for money from alpha testers, it feels like 40K: Inquisitor - Martyr should be more polished and perhaps more balanced and fun at this stage. But at the same time, there’s plenty of time for them to fix the niggling issues and release an absolute belter of a sci-fi action RPG.