There have been plenty of Warhammer 40k titles released over the past two years as Games Workshop slackens its vice-like grip on the franchise’s rights. There’s certainly plenty for developers to get their hands on in such a lore-rich, expansive universe. That opportunity appears to have been grabbed by Neocore, the team behind the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing games.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr is a top-down action RPG in which the player takes on the role of an Inquisitor - one of the Imperium of Man’s chief dispatchers of heretic and xenos. The game prioritises visceral combat with smart, adaptable AI opponents that can be outfought through a variety of approaches. Players can choose to wade into combat with their chainsword buzzing or pick enemy mobs apart from afar with a sniper rifle. Cover, too, plays an important part in this title, and enemies will seek it at the earliest opportunity. In the demo shown to us at gamescom, a gaggle of cultists hid behind a tower of masonry, popping off shots from safety. That was until the Inquisitor fired an explosive round at the structure, sending it tumbling down onto the unfortunate men below.
Most missions in the game will end in a set-piece boss fight. Larger enemies and monsters in Inquisitor - Martyr have multiple damageable points which can be targeted to control the flow of a fight. If a giant demon has powerful melee attacks but weak legs you can simply blow them away and watch as it tries to crawl towards your character in agony. It’s gory, it’s brutal and it’s very 40k.
Your Inquisitor, who can come in a number of default flavours, can be upgraded through a campaign set upon an ancient floating fortress. The game will feature the usual fare of upgrading abilities, as well as a crafting system. Skills will be tied to various weapons, armours and accessories too, making your tactical choices more impactful on the battlefield. You’re not trapped with your weapons, though - during the demo the Inquisitor hefts a massive plasma cannon onto his shoulders and the ability icons switch to match the new configuration. It’s a neat feature that means changing on the fly should have less of a detrimental effect on the player.
The main campaign of the game will be single-player, and the developers want to really bring that grimdark 40k feeling home. The indoor environments are dank, claustrophobic and filled with alcoves and hidden entrances for enemies. Outside, on planets and moons, the atmosphere can be clogged with poisonous gas, firestorms and other natural hazards to keep a player on their toes.
On top of the main campaign is a meta mode in which the player can get involved with. At random intervals sectors and planets will be attacked by the Imperium’s enemies - Orks or Eldar or Chaos - and the player base has to decide which mission to attack. Their collective choice will impact the next stage of the campaign. It’s an interesting feature that reminds of the multi-stage battles that occur at Games Workshop’s large events or in the pages of its White Dwarf magazine.
The game is still in development and the studio has very recently announced that it will be pushed back to later in 2017, but fans of top-down RPGs and 40k should keep an eye out for Inquisitor - Martyr for sure.