Update 17:43 05/06: After an unfortunate mix up during code distribution, it turns out that this review was based off the Steam Early Access version of the game and not the release version. We were unaware that this is only being made available from 6PM BST today with Neocore wiping characters from prior to release.
As such, Jason will be starting over and this review should now be considered “in progress”. What follows is the review as posted at 10AM BST, 5th June.
– Stefan, Editor
Update 16:30 15/06: You can now find Jason’s final review here.
What’s in a name? That which we call Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor – Martyr… Wait, what? Surely there could have been a better name here? A game by any other name would still play the same, but for some reason Neocore went for a needlessly wordy title. Either way, Martyr is an action RPG that has your dark science fiction adventurer exploring space stations, ships and planets from an isometric viewpoint, killing various monstrosities by clicking on them and following some basic quests in each one.
You get a nice selection of classes and sub-classes to start as, each dictating what kind of weapons you get to use and as such the skills available to you. Each one is meant to play differently and require different strategies and styles too. Most classes fit into your classic RPG roles, so the Assassin is stealth or DPS, Crusader the heavily armoured tank, the Psyker is like a mage, and you can refine them further to fit your style. You know what you’re getting into when you choose who to be. Of course, as the game progresses you get to allocate skill points in order to further develop your character and make them your own.
While there are some interesting systems at play – you can take cover for example, which is pretty unusual in from this viewpoint – the combat feels incredibly linear. You can generally run in and kill some little things, but once a big bad shows up, you have to alternate between attacking, healing, and any cool skills you have, and that’s about it. At no point did any of this feel particularly engaging though, as every battle essentially came down to hitting the enemy and making sure their health was dropping faster than yours. It never feels like the potential strategic options were needed.
One real strength is the depth to the customisation and the character progression. There are lots of things to tweak and adjust, skills to unlock, and equipment to find and use. You can use new weapons as you get stronger and they will have different skills depending on the class they belong to, all of which are available to use as soon as you equip them. You get a growing list of options the more powerful you come, though once you get past the initial tutorial stages you will be able to really find the set up that feels best to you.
One of the benefits of the straightforward combat is that you can generally go for style over substance. Running into a group of enemies and the proceeding to spin around like a blender is somewhat satisfying at least, and when you combine this with playing the game in co-op, there’s plenty of abilities popping off on screen at once.
Graphically the game is okay, by which I mean it portrays what it needs to, but don’t expect to marvel at anything that occurs in front of your eyes. Even with the setting cranked up, the textures are dull and the enemies are nondescript, though that’s largely down to the dark and grimy Warhammer 40,000 universe. It’s full of gothic architecture, decrepit technology and, in Martyr’s case, the oozing influence of the Chaos god Nurgle, it’s a real shame that the enemies don’t look more interesting outside of a few boss enemies. There are some nice effects on your special attacks, but even then it almost feels like something from a few years ago.
The writing is a strange mix as well, while there are moments where the characters are interesting and different, more often than not it feels like a am-dram performance of some fan-fiction. It just feels like tropes layered upon tropes. Not that the story is all that relevant to you as you’re shooting and slashing through the enemies you encounter, but it would still be nice to feel some affinity for the various degrees of fanatic who inhabit the good side in this game and are fighting against Nurgle’s threat.
Beyond the main campaign, Martyr features randomised missions that combine different layouts, enemies and environments together. The story will mean even less in a few months, as Neocore plan to bring seasons of new content to the game, adding new planets, new races to battle, and some community activities and choices to make. It will take quite a lot to spice up the action, though.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor –Martyr isn’t bad, but it feels like it’s missing that spark to be really enjoyable. When playing with hack-and-slash action you want to feel involved, but the fights in Martyr feel like someone else is playing the game. Sure there are some fun moments and maybe it will grow into a more enjoyable experience post-launch, but for the here and now, it probably isn’t worth your time.
Please note: As per the update at the top of this review, the following score is not necessarily representative of the full game and was mistakenly based of the Early Access version of the game.
Update: You can now find Jason’s final review here.
Version tested: PC – Coming to PS4 and Xbox One on 5th July.