The awkwardly titled Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a juxtaposition of the old and new. NeocoreGames tries to do everything on a limited budget, and it shows. For everything good with Inquisitor, there is something that holds it back. Great combat? Only a half-dozen enemy types. Great graphics? Mediocre music. Decent sound design? An uninspired narrative. Individually, Inquisitor has all the pieces, but there's nothing that ties this game together into a consistently compelling experience.
The game’s narrative starts with the player – the titular ‘Inquisitor’ – searching for the Martyr, a ship that has been missing for centuries. Upon arriving on the ship, the Inquisitor discovers that not all is as it appears, with the Inquisitor himself full of secrets that could be of paramount importance.
It sounds interesting on paper, and while Inquisitor’s campaign does have very brief strokes of brilliance (mostly when driving a massive tank), it’s hamstrung from the very beginning. This is mostly because of functional dialogue that is delivered with such bland severity that its difficult to care about the technical mumble-jumbo that the player is forced to listen to.
While the storyline is a bust, the gameplay is excellent. The player moves and fights like in any typical action RPG that has released since Diablo II, but what’s immediately noticeable is how smooth the gameplay is. This is best shown in a gameplay feature that really highlights Inquisitor’s combat: cover.
Cover is such a great idea that it's surprising that I haven’t encountered it sooner in the genre. If you find yourself surrounded, you can hide behind destructible cover and hold on as long as you can. This addition allows mechanics like suppression to be included, so you can’t just stand in the middle of a crowd and chug on health potions and obliterate everyone who looks at you funny. Instead, you need to use some measure of strategy.
Inquisitor relishes in sending waves upon waves of units towards the player, some of which are alarmingly powerful. As a Psyker, I battled while utilizing the Warp, an otherworldly power that seeks the corrupt all that use it. Using the Warp, I would teleport around the room, killing everything that I encountered while judiciously using my spells and hiding behind my cover when needed.
Sometimes I got my butt kicked, sending me back a few rooms and letting me ponder what exactly I did wrong. Inquisitor is great in that way, as it doesn’t punish the player unless they make a mistake. If you become surrounded and later massacred by screeching enemies, there was a sequence of mistakes that led to that moment. Usually, it was along the lines of deciding to run in there guns (or in this case staff) blazing instead of moving forward cautiously. This is a game that demands focus and not an insignificant amount of skill, which only serves to elevate Inquisitor’s combat above most of its contemporaries.
Like its contemporaries, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr has a lot of options for players. Inquisitor includes Co-Op and PvP modes, which while barebones, are there. This includes the perfunctory Campaign, as well as randomized missions that can either be tailored by the player for some in-game currency or deliberately chosen in the in-game 'galaxy' if you do not feel like spending the hard-to-acquire monies.
Inquisitor’s PvP mode includes 1v1 or 2v2. With over 1,700 people online I searched for a match for over ten minutes to no avail, which was surprising. I found co-op partners relatively quickly, but even then, the field was small. Only seven players were searching for a four-player group.
Once in-game with a group, it was fine and everything worked. However, there was a distinct lag of a second or two where my abilities would hit the enemy before actually registering. This brought the experience down, as well as the fact that the missions themselves were just running from one end of the map to the other and completing objectives.
That’s what Inquisitor is: a game with a great combat system surrounded in mediocrity. Only a few biomes exist for each map, either a ship in space, an ice planet or an industrialized zone. Sometimes it's different, but not often enough to really note except in passing. The objectives are also uninspired: you are either just moving from A to B, escorting someone from A to B, killing everyone, killing everyone in either A, B, or C, holding off waves of enemies or holding off waves of enemies while holding ‘F’ to hack into an interface. It’s so bland that it was sometimes a real struggle to press on and keep fighting the good fight for the Emperor.
At the end of each mission, the player clicks on a card and receives a small bevy of armor, weapons, and cash, which are all used to elevate your Power Rating. Each mission has a Power Rating next to it, signifying how high your Score should be before you enter combat. The idea of continually crafting, buying, and seizing armor and weapons for my character sucked me in. Even that got old, though, as there wasn’t anything really new or exciting about it. You disenchant weapons and armor, get the materials, and then craft your armor. It’s simple, but there is nothing to it.
I could go on and on describing the game inside and out, but it's like beating a dead horse. For instance, the abilities (and the ability to customize them) are cool to use and fun in concept. However, I only ever ended up using three abilities because of how overpowered they were. You have lots of options, but there really isn’t a point to go off the beaten track and experiment. If the basic abilities work and are interesting enough, why bother?
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr originally released on August 30th, 2017 on Steam Early Access. The later full release came on June 5th, 2018. You would think that after such a long period that the game would be relatively flawless, but it isn’t. Spelling, grammatical errors (even in the achievements!) and crashes appear infrequently. Not often, but just enough so that they were always present in the back of my mind. I experienced noticeable points of lag in the admittedly limited time I put into the online multiplayer. An extended Early Access period should make issues like this disappear.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr is a title that has a lot going for it. It has a great license, excellent combat, and decent sound design. However, everything else ranges from poor (the storyline) to mediocre (much of the overall game design). However, keep watching this title. NeoCore Games has been dutifully patching and listening to the community from the very beginning. With luck, starving ARPG/Warhammer fans could happily jump in soon, but only after knowing what they are heading into. This is a good title made mediocre by uninspired design, which may or not change in the future. By the Emperor’s will, I hope it does.
Our Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.
If you are a diehard Warhammer 40K fan or desperately need a ARPG, proceed very cautiously. Everyone else can safely avoid this title, as it does nothing that hasn’t been seen before.
- Excellent Graphical Fidelity
- Cover Mechanic is a Great Addition
- Puts You in the Warhammer Universe
- Boring Storyline
- Still Buggy After Nearly a Year
- Online is Inconsequential and Laggy
- Musical Score is Forgettable