EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
In recent years us Warhammer 40k fans have been blessed with a plethora of new content (some goodish, some badish, some extremely badish). Inquisitor Martyr by Neocore Games is the latest in this long line of 40k based projects. You play as an Inquisitor, tracking a mysterious inquisitorial distress beacon to a derelict fortress monastery (a Space Marine ship). You start out choosing your background - a Crusader, a Death Cult Assassin or a Psyker - which all offer different combat options. Then you choose a class which adds a further specialism to your character’s abilities. These varying classes change what weapons you can use, what powers you’ll have on the battlefield and a range of other things. The initial missions ease you into the game, giving small written tutorials and allowing you to slowly adjust to fighting the enemies. As you complete a mission and level up, you are awarded with a warchest which gives you a series of items, as well as skill points to be allotted to your chosen skill trees. Once the initial missions are completed, you can choose to play online with others, or by yourself.
Martyr feels like it’s following very much in the footsteps of Space Hulk: Deathwing. Both have adopted game types that are primarily about horde-killing - in Deathwing it’s the first-person shooter (similar in it’s style to Vermintide) but in Martyr, it’s the top down shooter, similar to Helldivers. Unfortunately, I think Martyr has compromised a lot of the simplicity of that genre by adding other elements. Take the combat for instance: rather than just having two different attacks for each mouse button, there are numbered attacks as well. Also, when you press the left mouse button anywhere that isn’t an enemy, you’ll move. If you click on an enemy and you’re not in range (there is no indicator of weapon range) you’ll move. The only way to stop this is by using the spacebar to lock yourself into cover (yes, there’s a cover system as well.) And finally, where the move cursor lies, is also the place where your bullets hit, which is very different from most top down shooters (where your bullets head in the direction you fire them).
Martyr feels overly complicated with its convoluted series of menus and 16 skill trees. It’s a shame in a way, as the 40k Space Hulk setting (fighting hordes of Xenos) lends itself far better to a top-down shooter and you feel that immediately in the sections where you engage in horde-killing. There’s also something a little inauthentic about Martyr that any 40k fan would notice in a heartbeat: There’s a Space Marine leading a bunch of Imperial Guard, who for some reason have gunpowder weapons instead of lasguns. And the bad guys are obviously Nurgle worshippers (there’s an enemy called Prophet of Nurgle) yet they apparently have their own god called ‘Madness Incarnate’ (which in terms of Chaos speak is like calling him ‘generic chaos god’). The dialogue also doesn’t help - the overt exposition or the fact that everyone references the Emperor every few sentences. Though, of course, these are less damning qualities to players unfamiliar with the setting.
Martyr’s most redeeming quality is its level of visual detail: everything from armor to set pieces looks amazing. In many ways this makes its inadequacies more frustrating, however, because it wouldn’t actually take that much to clean up the control system a bit. Then the only real non-technical issue would be the dialogue. It seems like a lot of the dialogue hasn’t been recorded yet (either that or it’s a glitch) so it could still be tidied up. But in terms of personal prediction, I think what I’m suggesting is more than will realistically be changed. But who knows, the potential is certainly there. So if you’re a fan of top down shooters or the 40k setting, I suggest keeping an eye on the development of this one (but not buying it just yet.)
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.