It oftentimes seems as though Warhammer games on Xbox One are cursed. Either they’re delayed, or cancelled entirely. Mercifully, a few exceptions make it through the cracks such as Vermintide and more recently, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr. Though, in fairness, Inquisitor – Martyr has been delayed quite a few times. In fact, it was due to release this week but is now seemingly arriving on August 28th according to the store listing. We’ve yet to have this confirmed, but unless it makes a surprise appearance beforehand, take that as your new launch date. (Update – August 23rd is the release date as confirmed by NeoCore).
Developed by the talented folks over at Neocore Games (of Van Helsing fame), Inquisitor – Martyr is a top-down dungeon crawler that will no doubt be compared to the likes of Diablo. That’s not a bad thing by any means, because in truth, Inquisitor – Martyr is a great game in its own right. The game throws players into the role of the titular Inquisitor, the the imperium’s strongest agent. During a venture in space, you stumble across an old imperium ship that’s been missing for years. The ship, referred to as Martyr, holds many stories and secrets, and it falls to you to get to the bottom of it all.
Your first port of call is to create an account over on the Neocore website – worry not, it’s a free and swift setup process and takes little more than an email and a password. Once you’re done here you’re able to create your character from three different types; Psyker, Assassin and the Crusader. Each of these characters bring their own flavor to the mix. The Psyker is able to warp around the environment, utilizing force weapons along the way. The Assassin, on the other hand, is the more nimble of the three, whereas The Crusader is your all round heavy grunt-like build.
Once you’ve chosen your poison, so to speak, you’re required to pick an expertise. Again, there’s three in total per-character to select from. The Crusader, for example, offers Tactical, Assault and Heavy Gunner expertise. When you’re done here, you can soak up a total of two modes to play the game; story or challenge mode. The main difference between these two modes is difficulty. The story mode is your more relaxed affair, with the challenge mode offering up something more, well, challenging. Regardless as to what you dive into, the pace of the game remains the same.
You’re dished up one level at a time, with each mission throwing you into linear-like surroundings. There’s heaps of missions to take on and they don’t require a great deal of time per-run. This gives Inquisitor – Martyr a nice fluid pace, allowing players to run through at a steady rate. In my humble opinion, there’s nothing worse than an RPG that draws out its levels and keeps you locked in certain sections for what feels like an eternity. Here, however, you’ll be glad to learn that the gameplay flow is quick and seamless, which again, I thought suited the game magnificently.
The need to better your build through the acquisition of gear and such is present, but this is to be expected. There’s loot galore and no shortage of (easy to use) skill trees to define your characters further. With Van Helsing under their belts, it was always a fair guess to assume that these mechanics would be nailed well, and I can gladly report, that’s exactly the case. If you’ve played any given Diablo-like RPG, you’ll slot right in and even if you haven’t, the game does a good job at keeping the underlining functions simple and straightforward. Make no mistake about it, this is tough a tough but fair game.
Loot is achieved at the end of each mission and the stuff that you do pickup during missions can only be checked out at the mission’s conclusion. It can be a frustrating design choice to digest, but it makes getting to the end of each run that much more tense. Now, if you (like me) are familiar with the table-top Warhammer, you’ll know that there’s a massive selection of weaponry to seek out. There’s laser-pistols, chainsaw swords, battle axes, auto-guns and more. Selection isn’t exclusive the weapon pool, however, as there’s also the ability to change your armor and appearance.
This includes the likes of your back pack, your banner and even your freakin’ eye. These parts collectively push you into becoming a stronger build as you progress through the game, with the skill tree offering additional perks and buffs to make easy work of besting your opposition. Indeed, certain skills and traits are level-locked, so it may take some time before you get to the good stuff. Whatever the case, your fight against the hordes of Chaos is empowering, tense and thrilling throughout. These vastly formidable foes are not to be taken lightly.
Especially when you meet their new gods. Hordes of enemies will gun at you from all angles as you make your way through each mission, arriving in all shapes and sizes in an attempt to put you down for good. Yes, expect a lot of running and gunning. What I will say, while we’re on the topic of combat, is that the system did have me confused at first. My character appeared to be more interested in shooting giant enemies in the distance, completely disregarding the smaller grunts at my ankles. It took some legwork to learn how to direct my character’s focus, but once I sussed everything out, it all clicked in place.
There’s even a Gears-esque cover system in place, being that you can use cover to tactically avoid incoming fire and pop-up to get off a few shots of your own. The enemies can indeed do the same. The kicker, however, is that there’s environmental destruction support within, making for some very tense firefights from start to end as you blast away at your enemies cover (and vice versa) before moving closer in to get some hits in. These systems feed well into each other and I cant say that, despite my initial confusion, there was a moment that I wasn’t having fun.
Inquisitor – Martyr can be played four player online, with everyone enjoying the same missions and levels in unity. Alongside this, the game can also be enjoyed locally for up to two players in total. It’s a nice design choice and one that should just about cater for everyone. The game’s level selection is achieved through the sprawling Galaxy Map, which is used for moving around planets and selecting different missions; simple stuff indeed. There’s some technical issues to contend with, sadly, but nothing that a post-launch patch cant fix in no time at all.
I’m not condoning these faults, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re very easy to overlook. Problems such as lengthy loading screens and the occasional screen-tear taking the top spot. With those issues to the side, there’s very little to groan about. Touching up on the game’s visuals, I quite enjoyed the details and the diversity on offer. Neocore have done well at capturing that forgotten space/futuristic war vibe, complete with a dark and gothic theme. It’s a very immersive experience that rarely gets old thanks to the exciting gameplay loop. The same can indeed be said about the enemy variation.
In summary, Inquisitor – Martyr is a solid effort from Neocore, one that’s bolstered by their work and experience on Van Helsing. It doesn’t matter how you play this game, or who you play this game with, Inquisitor – Martyr is fun, engaging and constantly alluring. If you’re a fan of the Diablo-like formula, you’ll no doubt enjoy what’s on offer here, especially if you also (again, like me) enjoy the source material. This may not sit alongside Diablo in terms of quality and depth, but there’s no denying whatsoever that Inquisitor – Martyr is well worth your time and attention.
Inquisitor Martyr is a great game despite the occasional technical flaw. There’s no shortage of mission, weapon and enemy variation within, making for a Diablo-like experience that’s faithful to the source material. Support for local and online co-op is present, though, regardless as to whether you go into this as a solo player or with friends, Inquisitor Martyr’s engaging gameplay will keep you firmly entertained.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.