by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
Embrace The Machine
Warhammer 40,000 has slowly gained mainstream traction in the last couple decades. It seems like wherever you look, new games set in the franchise are coming out whether they be the big name Dawn of War games, or smaller projects like Space Wolf, and many more. This repeated exposure over the years, along with some prodding from friends in the tabletop scene has even gotten me building and painting an army of my own. Which, of course, has lead to me getting as deep into the lore as I can, which has lead to more questions than answers, which further still has lead me wondering about some of the more enigmatic factions within the franchise.
One of the most fascinating of those are the Adeptus Mechanicus. Or you could refer to them as the Machine Cult of Mars. These are the most skilled minds and engineers of the Imperium of Mankind, the source of all great advancements in warfare technology in humanity's quest to rid the galaxy of the threats of alien, heretic and beings of beyond. They are so obsessed with technology, in fact, that they seek to forsake their mortal form and become the machine themselves. For the body is imperfect in that it withers and dies. But the machine is eternal.
In Service Of The Omnissiah
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is a turn-based strategy title that puts us in the role of the machine cult themselves. Investigations of a derelict world by one of their own leads the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus into the belly of a sleeping beast. Ruins soon are learned to be the resting place of sentient machines known as Necrons (think Terminators, but much more intimidating and even more unfeeling).
The technology within these tombs is inhuman, and therefore they are heresy incarnate. Yet, the player will find themselves constantly deciding whether or not to embrace forbidden knowledge in an effort to better fight the enemy, or to simply destroy it as is the will of the Omnissiah.
During my time with the preview build of the game, I had access to three missions. Missions play out as you may expect, with an intro providing an overarching narrative and thoughts to consider pushing forward and then you're dropped into an overview of the map. Guiding your Mechanicus through different rooms, you're often met either with enemies or a choice that will affect the remainder of your mission and may even affect the game going forward.
The choices will often tempt you with a reward, but I always found myself sitting there because I was concerned that it would activate more of the Necrons within the massive tombs. Often, seeking the option that seems beneficial comes with consequences, so you always need to be ready for a fight. When a fight does come your way, though, you'll be ready. The Adeptus Mechanicus are as good at fighting as they are at crafting. Between their blind faith and their intelligence, you control quite a force to be reckoned with.
When a battle begins, your Tech-Priests take the field first. While it's often riskier, I preferred to have my tech-priests close the gaps between the enemies as quickly as possible and engage at a medium or close range. This is almost entirely due to the risk of angering the Machine Spirit which could result in critical weapon failures, so it's best to spread out the way you attack. While it may be risky to expose yourself to the enemy, fret not because at the start of each round you can deploy a reserve unit onto the battlefield until your entire squad is in battle. There's not much to use in the way of cover, which is really my only complaint, but other than that it's shaping up to be a solid turn-based strategy game.
Forsake Your Flesh
What stood out to me most during my time playing was the amount of customization that can be done to your tech priests between missions. While we only have a taste of it so far, improving your tech-priests by slowly having them abandon pieces of their human bodies bit by bit is as haunting as it is awesome (ever play Quake 4? Remember the 'stroggification' scene?). In the bite size piece of a game that will eventually be over thirty missions in length, one thing is clear: flesh is weak, the machine is immortal, and the Omnissiah demands victory at all costs.