Space Hulk first came out back in 1989, as the classic and popular board game set in Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe. Its refined scope and premise made it perfect for translation to video games and it made the jump to the PC and Amiga just four years later, lying dormant following a sequel, before the property was revived for last year’s PC and iPad game.
After years of THQ holding the license to 40K, Games Workshop are quite aggressively exploring a lot of avenues with the franchise, and this includes Space Hulk: Deathwing.
You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Streum On Studio, a small French developer with just a single game to their name, but that doesn’t mean their designs on the franchise aren’t ambitious. The main twist, compared to previous Space Hulk games, is that it’s a first person shooter and sees you taking control of a Dark Angels Terminator, the most elite troops of the Space Marines. Turning the franchise to a first person shooter actually makes a lot of sense, when you think about it.
In the Warhammer 40K universe, space ships are often lost while travelling the treacherous alternate dimension of the Warp, drifting through space before eventually crashing into other wrecks and debris, forming the vast and eponymous Space Hulks. As these drop in and out of Warp, they are often targeted by the various chapters of the Space Marines, to scour the wreckage for items of value to the Imperium, as well as neutralise any threats they might hold to nearby planets.
Hulks are often home to Orks or Chaos Space Marines, as they hitch a ride to wage war wherever they can, or in the case of the Space Hulk game, Genestealers. Whatever the threat, the huge, hulking forms of the heavily armoured Terminators must fight off the enemies of humanity that stand in their path. The comparisons to the Alien franchise are easy to make, especially with Genestealers as the enemies, as they first appear as blips on motion trackers, rapidly working their way to attack your troops as you push through tight corridors and small rooms.
It’s perfect material for a tense and nerve-wracking FPS, but in making that jump, Streum know that they can push on to create something greater. Admittedly they are still incredibly early on in production, with just a few months work complete and a release not planned until a 2015 launch on PC (though fingers crossed they will also be releasing on console), so all I saw was a tech demonstration using Unreal Engine 4 and showing off some example architecture and a Genestealer model within the developer tools. It was really the concept art and plans that were explained to me that caught my imagination, though.
In addition to the claustrophobic hallways and rooms of a space ship, they recognise the need and potential to break out of the small and confined conflicts at the heart of the board game, with the first person perspective and gameplay giving them the artistic freedom to really explore what a Space Hulk is.
There will be that stark contrast between those corridors and huge, cavernous halls, engine rooms and the like. Though most things are up in the air, I feel it’s important for them to go even further and explore the areas where ships have crashed into one another and merged, break away from the metallic and Gothic architecture of the Imperium and draw upon the other races of the 40K universe and integrate their ships into the Hulk too.
Quite a positive indicator is that they’re already working to flesh out the range and variety of Genestealers beyond those that already exist within the 40K board game. From the basic form, several further evolutions emerge, each bigger than the last. Physiological changes like large talons, thicker armour, or the ability to shift skin colour like a chameleon make an appearance, while there will also be the human hybrids, which will be able to carry guns and potentially even wield the powers of the Warp. More dangerously, their Hive Mind will let them work together to attack you, but they won’t be scripted AI, coming at you dynamically and in a different fashion each time you play.
Thankfully, you won’t be alone but as part of a squad. The game is being designed with co-op play in mind, with the dynamic enemy AI helping to keep things fresh, but you’ll also be able to play with AI backing you up and gain the advantage of being a psyker too, a Librarian. Though you’ll be able to upgrade your abilities as you go along, Terminators are already some of the toughest warriors in the galaxy, standing at around 8′ tall and with the physical and mechanical strength to carry weaponry more befitting of a modern day Humvee.
In the past, Games Workshop have often struggled to get the best out of the Warhammer 40K franchise, but Streum seem to have a handle on what is needed to translate Space Hulk from a turn-based board game to a first person shooter. I’m certainly very curious to see whether they can deliver on the potential of the universe and setting.
Love 40k and Space Hulk, fingers crossed for this one, and hopefully as you say we will see a console version as well.
Space Hulk on PSone was great fun at the time, had a great atmosphere, hopefully they can recapture that.
Despite being a little shallow, I really enjoyed the most recent Space Marine game. It’s a shame that THQ’s implosion seems to have curtailed that series, as the ending of the first game was a pretty huge cliffhanger, but it’s left me much more amenable to future WH40K games… Bring on the Tyranids!
Praying to the Emperor for a PS4 version.
here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jvqIXqn-8A
Sorry to be a pain but the space marine terminators are usually 12ft tall, Your standard marine in full power armour is nearly 8ft .
Seems like ages since we’ve had a truly great GW-inspired game.
Space Marine was OK but feels primitive against some third person shooters.
Publishers have also failed to capitalise on the Warhammer Fantasy license too. All it would take is one decent RPG.
SH Number 7/Mini-Lipscombe
Would loved to have seen more of a video. I’m not that big of a fan of Warhammer, so would have liked to see actual in game action. But I’ll hold my judgement on this game until some comes out.