This may come as a surprise, but I seldom read reviews. This isn’t a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” I’ve just always been one for making up my own mind and reviews are sometimes a ticket to ride the hype train. I know I’m digging myself into a hole here but there’s a reason I’m making this point. When I was looking into Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr I noticed that the Steam reviews were so mixed, people didn’t seem to be able to form a proper consensus. I like polarizing games so I decided to give it a go. I also wanted to address a few of the complaints I’ve seen in some of the player reviews. On account of this one being polarizing, I also realized I couldn’t do this fairly on my own so I decided to drag my fellow TVGB writer and Aussie mate Monique Sheldrake along for the ride. Let’s see if we can agree shall we?
Alex Southgate’s Review
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is set in the dark, unforgiving, Warhammer 40k universe. What’s immediately nice to see is we aren’t playing the role of a Space Marine. For 40k games from the perspective of the Imperial side of the everlasting galactic war, playing as one of the heavily armored super-soldiers is the go-to, but this time we’re taking the role of one of the Inquisitors. These are the very human (and very dangerous) agents sent by the Imperium to seek out Chaos infestations, stop cultist activity and the like.
In this game we find a ship called The Martyr which has been missing in warp space for many years. Not only is the ship infested with demons of the chaos god Nurgle, but it also seems to have become sentient. You follow in the footsteps of another Inquisitor already on board. I’m not going to go any deeper into the plot, you can figure that out for yourself but I actually think it’s very well written. This is something I noted as a fairly major gripe in the player reviews so here’s my stance. The story is excellent if you’re a 40k fan and understand the universe and the way it works. If you’re coming into the game cold you might find it all a bit pretentious and even slightly imature. I had a good idea what to expect so didn’t have any issues with the plot.
Just some of the horrors you’ll face on your journey
Aside from the main story, you’ll be able to engage in a bunch of side missions which will pit you against cultist, traitor Imperial Guard units and Chaos Space Marine warbands. These missions are scored according to their difficulty level and this is something really important to the game. You can play any mission you’re given at any point in time and as this game is online these missions change regularly. If you jump into something way above your level you will get sat on by everything attacking you. Your own rating is ranked by your gear. This sort of makes sense; you aren’t going to try and take out a tank with a pistol unless you happen to have a death wish. Take this philosophy and you’ll be absolutely fine.
On top of the constantly changing bank of playable missions, you also have special assignments which you have to request from your bridge. These are linked together to form one large mission and you have a time limit. You’re given about 12 hours to complete a phase. I don’t mean you get multiple shots in that time that’s just the over all time limit for each play. What I’m saying is don’t start one and go to bed, it won’t be there when you come back. Lastly you have tarot missions in which you impose certain rules on what you’ll be facing. In my personal opinion these are the hardest of the lot and should only be attempted when you’re ready.
The next biggest gripe that reviews seem to be noting, (and I think Monique will agree with this one) is the skill system. You don’t buy skills. The skill trees you unlock will boost your life, add to various forms of damage or give you masteries which will add benefits to the skills you already have. You are given more abilities as you level up so the skill points you spend bolster these and your over all build. Personally I didn’t have an issue with this. Playing a Psyker it was nice to give my spells the ability to heal me, slow my enemies, slice through their armour etc. For Monique playing a hack n’ slash type character they probably had less noticeable benefits. With this being said the jury seems to be out on this one and it will come down to how you like to build your character.
One thing I didn’t like as much was the item system. The thing about ARPGs is that you find gear you really like and want to carry on using because it really suits your play-style … or just looks cool. The items in Inquisitor for me don’t have any real value. The bonuses you get from them are fairly incremental and you never seem to get that wow moment. This makes your gear feel a bit throw away. There is also a crafting system in this game. The issue is that because the weapons and armour don’t feel like things you want to keep the desire to make them sort of comes over as a bit pointless. It’s good if you want “x” type of gear because you don’t currently have it but that’s about as far as it goes if I’m honest.
Your starmap. You choose your missions and plan your assaults from here.
The actual gameplay is fun. What isn’t to like about running around eviscerating waves of enemies, punching bosses in the face and completing objectives? It would probably start feeling a bit samey if you played in massively long bursts, but a couple of hours a day is great and I didn’t really notice the grind that I know comes with these types of games. I’ve read complaints that the story is very short for the money you’re playing for the game. This isn’t really a fair call.
The main story probably is quite short but there’s so many other things to do that you should be concentrating on the game as a whole and if you do you’re going to get a ton of bang for your buck. I’m only on the second chapter of the story and have pulled over 20 hours of game time already. If I get 20 plus hours out of any game I consider it value for money.
Environments are varied and beautifully rendered.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor: Martyr looks pretty in a dark, brooding sort of way that fits the 40k world very nicely. I never pick up a great deal on the sound but what I noticed was also fitting and suitably dramatic when it needed to be. The voice overs also fit the game nicely which is important so it doesn’t lose authenticity or start sounding like a parody of something that needs to come over as serious.
From the perspective of control and the general interface of the game I’m a tad split. The actual controls are really intuitive and although this is a keyboard-driven game you aren’t being hampered by having to dance your fingers across a hundred buttons to do anything. The general interface of the game should be self explanatory but isn’t. A lot of what you need is on the bridge of your ship but bits unlock as you go. The problem with this is that the game tells you that you can do loads of brilliant stuff like crafting and unlocking awesome missions right from the get go if you look at any trailer.
What it doesn’t tell you is that you will get these things as the story progresses. I spent 10 minutes looking for my crafting area only to find out it wasn’t there yet. Next up you can re-map things like psychic powers so your weapons do different things. There was no real tutorial on how to do this and I had to figure it out mostly for myself. Lastly, this game has a co-op element and Mon and I found out that you couldn’t play with your friends because the mechanism to invite specific people had been removed. We learned this from a wiki after buggering about with an invite screen that didn’t seem to work for ages. This stuff is all fixable but it helps when things are clear.
All in all I actually really enjoyed my time with this game and I’ll definitely be continuing with it. If you’re a Warhammer 40k fan I think you’ll find a lot here for you to like. It’s all very true to the actual universe so you should feel right at home. To someone who has never delved into the 40k world a lot of the terminology will likely sound a bit odd and this might ruin some of the experience as that terminology makes up much of the story. For me, at least, this game comes recommended if you like this sort of thing. I’m definitely not saying that Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a ground breaking must-have, it isn’t and it’s not perfect. For what is, though, it’s probably worth a shot.
Gameplay : 8/10
Monique Sheldrake’s Review
This was really my first true foray into the ARPG genre, and what a place to start, considering Warhammer’s storied history in the game world, both tabletop and video. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to the character creation screen and decided to go with my classic choice of being a rogue – in this case an Infiltrator Assassin. As you can see, this basically gives me a character that looks like the unholy semi-cybernetic spawn of Bayonetta and Predator.
Unlike Alex’s mage-like Psyker choice, being an Infiltrator allows for a lot of quick and light hack ‘n’ slash gameplay. The tutorial missions, while interspersed with story elements which mostly went over my head (not being an existing fan of the Warhammer universe), were easy to follow. It was very easy to pick up how to handle standard missions, although defense missions where you were protecting an individual, location, or item did confuse me a little. This was mainly because I was given the option to activate defense options like small turrets and land mines, but I couldn’t really see how my selection was doing anything (if it even was). That was perhaps my own fault for somehow missing it in the tutorials.
Regardless, I was able to fly through the first five or six tutorial missions and found myself in my base of operations, with a star map leading to both campaign and side missions, a store, and the co-op option which never came to be. According to the Steam forums, the co-op function (which, if you want to play with friends, appears to be completely activated by in-game chat) was disabled, as chat was breaking the servers. That was the last bit of information I was able to find on that, dated around very late June. The developers are very active on the Steam forums, so it would appear that they’re working on it, although ultimately we were unable to play together.
For me, gameplay felt fun but not particularly varied. While there were different enemies used for different areas and a few different types of environments, all of it felt very samey. A bit of my MMO prejudice was invoked because I could feel how this was designed to be a game that people regularly played, either co-op or single player, constantly building their skills and strategies. I’m definitely not a person who enjoys the continuous, samey grind of MMOs, so this was a bit of a turn-off for me, even though the game was quite fun in the short-term.
Your Bridge. This is where you craft and shop amongst other things. This is, therefore, your hub.
I’m told that a common aspect of ARPG games is to feel invincible up to a point, then get completely destroyed from lack of a good build or just because the difficulty skyrockets at a certain point in the story. At the time of writing, I believe I was just inching into the difficulty spike, because for the first 10-12 missions (including the five or so original tutorial campaign missions) nothing could hurt me. I didn’t even learn where the innoculator (health regeneration item) button was until fairly recently because it simply didn’t occur to me. Your health regenerates after battle and while you’re running around, and nothing was doing enough harm for me to need to use it.
Your power level (which relates directly to whether you can handle the difficulty ratings of each mission) seems to be completely determined by your gear. Nothing in my skill tree seemed to matter when I was trying to improve my battle-related skills. All of the skill tree items I could spend points on were limited to health boosts and other passive increases. All of my increased power came purely from new swords, armor, and accessories that I could either buy or find in the field. I was never wanting for money, as even if I wanted something expensive I could simply sell the 5-10 guns I had found in the field that I wasn’t using. As a lover of a good skill tree, this was pretty disappointing. I wanted actual visible improvements to active abilities! It sounds like Alex got more of this with his chosen class than I did. The Infiltrator/Assassin really didn’t feel like it got any option to improve class-specific skill through the skill tree.
One of the many theatres of battle.
On a brief note about the user interface: Personally, I think it’s pretty bad. While there are pretty good tutorials that you can read through for most things, Alex and I had to actually Google how co-op with friends had to work. By clicking on the co-op multiplayer, it asked us to use the Invite function. Where was the Invite function? Nowhere, because it was apparently nestled into the in-game chat which didn’t work. Likewise I wouldn’t have known that the numbers next to the missions were the difficulty/power ratings unless Alex hadn’t told me to watch out for them ahead of time. There’s nothing inherently bad about the interface, but I think it could definitely use some work.
In spite of what I believe to be a slightly clunky interface, the graphics are very appealing, from the character designs to the locations to the UI itself. The music also ramps up appropriately during battle and the game boasts quite good ambient tracks. Nothing award-winning here, but still good.
Overall, I think that Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a fun game to spend a few hours mucking around in, but it lacks depth if you’re looking for more than the average grind. You’ll also be disappointed if you’re hoping to make a very customised character build, as the skill tree won’t give you much to work with.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.