The 40K universe has a curse, and I don’t mean eternal war and warp spawns. It suffers from bad games, which range from the plain bad to the great premises that are proficiently squandered by shoddy execution. As much as I hoped Warhammer 40K’s first ARGP Inquisitor - Martyr to be a good game, it unfortunately falls in the latter category.
Launched in Early Access on the 31st of August 2017, Neocore’s game puts you in the shoes of an Inquisitor as it investigates the massive Caligari Sector, home of multiple sub-sectors, several star systems, and dozens of planets. Missions take place on the planets and spacecrafts scattered around this huge sector, with environments ranging from snow and deserts to cities and ship interiors.
Martyr allows players to choose among a myriad of different classes spread in three archetypes: Crusader, Assassin, and Psyker, which all have different attributes like speed and health and special skills, but can for the most part equip the same weapons and gear aside from power armour and staffs.
Inquisitor is a beautiful game. Level design and characters are wonderfully 40K, from the colour pallete to the way enemies explode into gory, bloody messes. The Martyr is such a beautiful gothic environment that I feel almost sad an alternate first person shooter mode is not available to gauge at the walls and shoot heretics in the head.
Unfortunately, the action that takes place in these walls is far from exciting. In the years since Diablo came out, the industry spent decades improving and streamlining controls, but Martyr’s developers didn’t got the memo. Instead of a responsive and dynamic control scheme, Inquisitor uses an obtuse mouse focused setup that has you moving and firing with the same button, often causing you to move at inopportune moments and walk towards something you meant to shoot.
But aside from misfiring, the problem with combat and controls is that they are just bad; weapons feel ineffective, movement is a slog, and special abilities are boring to use. Martyr’s engagements offer none of the visual excitement of Dawn of War II’s special abilities, nor the military precision of Helldivers – instead, it is just a big, slow, insipid ordeal. It seriously made me wish for a twin stick shooter setup option.
Thing is, Martyr has a lot of potential. Combat is made visually interesting a physics system that governs nearly every world object, causing pillars and cover to collapse in real time as they take damage. These rarely offer any tactical option aside from causing you or the enemy to relocate, but it is a nice touch that does wonders to make the game more dynamic.
That dynamism, however, is let down by the bland combat and a meaningless progression system that utterly fails at displaying progression. Instead of unlocking abilities, skills, and visible upgrades, most of the extremely slow levelling up system consists of uninspired percentage increases. It is really hard to care about progression when you take two hours of gameplay to unlock a +1% ranged damage instead of a proper new feature.
Making matters worse, coop campaigns were removed midway through development, with a shamefully transparent excuse that “the plot” was designed for single player only. That may fly with less educated folks, but many people will be aware of famously successful single player-plot games that allowed coop like Dying Light, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, or hell, even Diablo itself. I dare anyone to say that those games did badly in coop on what was quite blatantly a single player campaign.
For all its strengths, Martyr fails to impress. While the meaningless loot system and slow progression are clearly an issue, it is the uninspired control system that never really comes together that drags the game down to limbo. The dissatisfaction of aiming the mouse and pressing the number “2” to fire a shotgun blast allies with an inability to move or backstep while firing, creating a static – and frankly boring – experience. When your assault armour’s jump packs don’t really catapult you into the air and send you crashing into the ground but act more like meek teleports that don’t feel very enticing to use, it becomes harder and harder to justify using a dramatic over the top setting like 40K. For all the flaws the game has, turns out choosing to be a bland RPG was its most decisive one.
WARHAMMER 40,000: INQUISITOR – MARTYR VERDICT
A pretty, yet ultimately unimpressive Action RPG.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Flying into the Martyr for the first time, and actually wishing I could pilot a ship and explore it.
Horrible level up system
Voice acting is not good
Extremely long loading times on an SSD
Why the hell does a game like this require an online connection to dedicated servers?