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Game Info:

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr
Published by: NeocoreGames
Developed by: NeocoreGames
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Violence
Available on: Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Action Role-playing
Number of Players: 1 - 2 players local, up to 4 online
MSRP: $49.99 (PC), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One)
(Humble Store/Amazon Affiliate Links)

Many thanks to NeocoreGames for the review copy!

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr is a top-down action game similar to Diablo III, set in the Warhammer: 40,000 universe.

Most video games these days that are set in the Warhammer: 40,000 universe focus on the most well-known element in that setting: Space Marines. This is not one of those. The player takes on the role of an Imperial Inquisitor: an agent of the Imperium of Man tasked with hunting down and destroying heretics, aliens, mutants, unsanctioned psykers and traitors. Inquisitors have nigh-unlimited authority and power, and are supported by various Inquisitorial orders of the Imperium.

The campaign story begins with the Inquisitor boarding a derelict Imperial Starship, the Martyr, which has been found adrift in space. The first few missions take place aboard the ship before the action switches to various worlds and space stations as the Inquisitor follows a trail of clues to solve the mystery. Along the way, he gains allies, upgrades and information as he purges the enemies of the Imperium.

As is often the case with licensed Games Workshop titles, great care has been taken to faithfully reproduce the feel and tone of the 40K universe. That means grimdark, gothic design and plenty of violence. The Martyr is an Imperial ship, and as such is styled to resemble Gothic architecture of the sort found on European cathedrals and the like. I'd give the game developers an A- on the accuracy of 40K. Yes, there are a few minor nitpicky things that only a true 40K fan would notice, such as depictions of the Imperial Aquila having both eyes or the way "Gellar Fields" is pronounced, but only someone as obsessive over these details as I am will be distracted by them.

There are plenty of in-game tutorials to help the player get used to the various features, which is very handy since the game gets a bit complex. Between various weapons loadouts, special abilities, special equipment and so on, there's plenty going on.

The various chapters in the story are told in the form of missions along with dialogue to move the plot. Mission length is about 10-20 minutes depending on how thorough the player is in searching the mission maps, or how long the fights take. Tactics, special equipment and weapons choice have a big effect here. Pick the wrong loadout and you'll be here awhile. Pick the right one and the game feels like it's perpetually in easy mode.

The player can choose to do only the campaign missions, but doesn't have to. There are plenty of side missions that can be done to gather more loot, gain more experience for leveling and just have more fun. Beware: The side quests are more challenging than the campaign missions, and if you fail, you don't get another chance at that particular side quest. Not to worry, they're procedurally generated so it isn't like you'll be missing important story content. You do only get three lives for one of these, so be careful. Fortunately, the difficulty rating of the missions are displayed and can be compared to the Inquisitor's power level so the player can make an informed decision about whether to attempt the mission. The Inquisitor's power level is the total power of all of his equipment.

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good campaign story, simple UI and smooth combat
Weak Points: Repetitive missions; not playable offline
Moral Warnings: Very violent and bloody; mild language

Loot drops are plentiful, and can easily keep the Inquisitor up to speed on what he needs to complete the missions. Additionally, the Inquisitor can purchase gear from the Rogue Trader whose ship he has commandeered. Excess equipment can also be sold.

There are plenty of options for customizing the Inquisitor. Not only is there a basic class/level system, there is a skill tree, perks, attributes and of course, equipment. The player gets two separate loadouts that can be easily swapped during gameplay. For example, I used one weapon set for melee action, and the other for ranged combat. Swapping weapon sets is done by either clicking the swap button in the UI or by hitting the tab key.

Between missions, the Inquisitor can buy/sell equipment, store gear in a storage unit (called a stasis casket) as well as advance the story by talking to various characters.

The game control setup is straightforward, with all the available special attacks for the current weapon set along the bottom of the screen. Right and left clicking the mouse button on an enemy activates the first two special attacks, but the others are activated by hitting the number buttons on the keyboard. With the way the special attacks available are arranged on screen, it feels like they should have been buttons, but aren't. They show the cooldown for each attack and what keyboard number (or mouse button) activates them, but that's it. As a veteran MMORPG player I kept trying to click them to activate the abilities. Moving the Inquisitor around the map is done by pointing and clicking with the mouse. Overall the controls and UI are simple and easy to use.

Combat is straightforward with the Inquisitor normally operating alone but sometimes NPCs will join him during the course of a mission. There are usually units of Imperial Guard (ok, Astra Militarum nowadays) or Space Marines (did you think there could be a 40K game without them entirely?). Environments are destructible so taking cover is a wise but temporary solution to being under heavy fire. But look at the bright side: The enemy's cover is destructible too. The mouse wheel zooms in and out and pressing the center button allows the player to rotate the camera.

Inquisitor - Martyr is a game with very heavy emphasis on community. There are leaderboards that track players' success with a Glory meter that resets each week. There's also multiplayer, with the option to play in either PvP or co-op mode. The community feel is complete with an in-game messaging system that functions like e-mail. The downside to this is that the game cannot be played offline. This is a pet peeve of mine personally.

The game difficulty overall is not very high. When I play games I generally leave them at the default difficulty setting and at that level I could play this game with about the same level of concentration as a game of Spider Solitaire... Which is to say that it was fun and engaging, but I didn't have to stop playing in order to have a conversation with someone. I think part of the problem is that the missions get fairly repetitive and while they have lots of variety in a narrative sense, the actual gameplay doesn't offer much variety. When choosing mission options I quickly found that I didn't need to think too much about my choices. It always boiled down to "run through the maze, kill everything that moves, take the loot, and click the thingies (or stand next to them and hold the 'F' key) that represent mission objectives." That isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially if you like a casual game experience. It just made it a little bit harder to care about all the great detail and options they built into the game.

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 74%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

The graphics are pretty smooth and high quality. I experienced no lag or issues running on a custom-built Windows 10 machine with an AMD Ryzen 5 1600 6 Core 3.20 GHz Processor, 16 GB of RAM and an ASUS Dual-GTX1060 6GB GPU. (No tweaks or boost to the GPU.) I did experience only one glitch, which was that after a mission on my first time playing the end mission summary screen got stuck and I had to quit the game and try again. The issue didn't come back.

The sound is great and the background music is suitably moody and depressing. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, though there are captions provided onscreen in case you have to play muted.

Yes, I know I say this with every 40K game I review, but it's still true and needs mentioning yet again because it's always been true and probably always will be. This is a game set in the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000, which means it's violent, bloody and brutal. When enemies are slain they tend to instagib (fly apart in a bloody mess) unless they're larger, in which case they just bleed a lot. All in all, fairly on par for a 40K title.

On the upside, the 40K setting has never been one for any kind of nudity or significant sexual content, and I didn't see any in this game either. Language was very mild, with the occasional words that would be unsurprising on broadcast television (such as the 'd' word), but even that was rare.

Again, as is common in the 40K universe, there are occult themes in the form of human psykers (people who can use psychic abilities) and the Chaos Gods. Also, the Inquisitors revere the Emperor of Mankind almost at a godlike level.

Ethically, this game can be problematic mainly in what an Inquisitor is. An Inquisitor in 40K is not someone who shows mercy, or who would hesitate to wipe out entire populations if he believes that's what it takes to destroy the threats to the Imperium. An Inquisitor is at best an antihero, and at worst, an extreme pragmatist with zero compunction about destroying the innocent to get at the guilty. Whether depicted that way in this particular game or not, that's what a 40K Inquisitor is, and players who know the setting will have that in mind when playing this game. Yes, the Inquisitor is out to destroy evils like Chaos, but the phrase "the ends justify the means" may as well be stamped on their foreheads.

Here's the thing about 40K that I think is troubling to my Christian mind, despite how much I love the games and the setting... Despite the vaguely Christian trappings in use by the Imperium (especially Catholic in theme), there is absolutely nothing whatsoever in common between any type of Christianity and the Imperium. When an Inquisitor (or Space Marine, or any other agent of the Imperium) is dispatched to deal with an enemy, there is absolutely zero room for compassion, forgiveness, redemption or anything else that comes out of the New Testament. The theme of the Imperium is to take the more brutal elements of the medieval church to an extreme. 40K is generally not a spiritually uplifting setting.

Are the quasi-religious elements used in 40K disrespectful to Christians? Well, that's a subjective question. I honestly do not believe the intent is to be disrespectful as such, though it's easy to interpret the setting as being somewhat satirical toward the Roman Church of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance. The Inquisitors do mirror the infamous Spanish Inquisition. The style and iconography is meant to mirror Gothic cathedrals, and the official language of the Imperium is "High Gothic," which sounds and reads like pseudo-Latin. I do not personally find these elements troubling, but I could definitely understand where a Catholic might.

I enjoyed this game. It gave me exactly what I expected in that the game developers competently created a game that plays smoothly and simply, and can be easily played in a short session to bang out a mission or two. I recommend it to anyone who liked the gameplay of Diablo, or who is into Warhammer 40,000 in general. This game isn't for the little kids, or those who are squeamish about violence.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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