When it comes to Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K), you can barely spit in the Steam store without hitting a game or ten set in this world. A good chunk make it to the console realm, but not as many obtain critical and/or consumer acclaim. The most recent attempt at bringing WH40K Space Marines to consoles was not a disaster, but it wasn’t enjoyable either. This brings us to Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr, an action-RPG that looked incredibly promising back when it first surfaced at E3 in 2015. It helped that it features the Inquisitors of the Imperium, who are undoubtedly, and without question, the BEST operators under the Emperor’s command. Three years later, with numerous delays and the foul taste of Space Hulk: Deathwing still lingering in our mouths, the game finally releases on consoles. It has a lot of expectations to live up to for WH40K fans, but does the Emperor provide?
Did Someone Say Heresy?
Inquisitors are pretty much the detectives of the WH40K universe, that is, if detectives were also judges, juries, and executioners. They’re usually sent to a sector to investigate one thing, only to have it snowball into something else completely. That something often is the doom of the Imperium of Man, because honestly, if it was anything less, then we’d never hear about that story. Most likely, the Inquisitor would pass it off to an Interrogator or someone further down the ranks. But I digress. In this case, the player’s Inquisitor definitely has their initial investigation snowball into impending doom. No one else is around, so he/she might as well, right?
The Inquisitor begins this investigation in a response to a distress beacon deep in space. A certain Requisition team was sent there, although it’s unclear why they were there at all. The signal comes from an ancient Monastery ship called Martyr, one that was thought to have been destroyed long ago. The ship is now tainted with Chaos, overrun with daemons, and should be, for all intents and purposes, blown out of the sky. However, there is a host of Space Marine survivors on board, who were abandoned by their original Requisition retinue. And hey, isn’t the leader of the Requisition a Lord Inquisitor? Oh how the plot thickens.
Before players can even set foot in the Martyr, they must first build their character. It’s not a deep RPG character creation, but it runs along the lines of choosing a character in Diablo III. You have three different classes to choose from, and then three different backgrounds from those classes. The classes include Crusader (the tank), Psyker (mage-like), and Assassin (rogue). The individual backgrounds set the particular class’ play style. For example, choosing the Heavy Gunner background for the Crusader makes him practically a tank on two feet. An Assault background, on the other hand, gives him more versatility as a warrior on the field. The Empyreanist background for a Psyker is more sorcerer-like, whereas the Scryer option serves as half-warrior/half-mage. The Assassin, the only female option, has various states of high speed and stealth, depending upon which background the players choose.
You can create as many characters as you like. Also like Diablo, you can stash weaponry and armor for all characters on your account.
Players can further customize their Inquisitor’s play style with Skills and Perks. As the Inquisitor gains experience and thus gains Inquisitorial Rank, they receive skill points to spend in the various Skill Tree options available. Performing Heroic Deeds—such as killing so many enemies with only Psyker powers—unlock Perks that the player can apply to their Inquisitor. In the same vein as Wolfenstein: The New Order, playing how you naturally prefer to play will unlock Perks that will suit and boost your particular play style.
Heretics. Heretics Everywhere.
If you’ve liked my Diablo III comparisons so far, get ready for more. The combat is pretty much hack-n-slash from a top-down, isometric point of view. Depending upon the class and background you chose, your attacks will be melee or ranged. Sounds a lot like Diablo III, right? There is one distinct difference, however, and it’s the ability to take cover behind objects. Cover can shield you from most basic attacks, but the primary reason to use is to have some protection while attacking. Of course, when you have Helbrutes coming your way or giant Plague Daemons, no amount of cover will prevent the coming onslaught.
Two difficulty levels are also available from the beginning: Story and Challenging. A middle option should also be available, because Story is incredibly easy and Challenging is like throwing a level 1 player into Torment VII in Diablo III. I swear I merely stepped into a room before a horde of nurgles annihilated my Inquisitor. After switching to the easier difficulty, I stomped through the entire level without breaking a sweat. Something in between, please, Neocore Games. Not all of us like to be punished or babied.
That said, though, is it too much to ask for the tutorials to be more accessible? After the prologue, the tutorials flat out stopped, and the prologue isn’t the only chapter that introduces new game features. Yes, you can look up the tutorials at any time, but they only consist of paragraphs of tiny print without any real instruction or examples. With all of the features WH40K: Inquisitor – Martyr has, a little direction would be nice.
Regardless of how easy of a time I was having in the main missions, I was having an absolute blast. So it’s a lot like Diablo III. Is that necessarily a bad thing? I love the mindless action and loot-gathering of Diablo, and now I can do it with dual-wielding bolters and psychic attacks. What more can WH40K fans ask from an action-RPG?
Purge All the Heretics/Daemons/Xenos!
After the prologue, the galaxy is practically your oyster. You can travel to any system and take on any side mission on any planet at any time. Although, you should check your gear level and chances of success before embarking, but they are there available to you. You don’t have to do any of them at all, even though they net some pretty decent extra XP, cash, and loot. Players can do all story missions and side missions solo, with local co-op, or four-player online co-op. (Yes, just like Diablo III.)
In addition to all of that, though, is the social aspect of a Cabal. A Cabal is sort of like a Guild from an MMO, and yet not really at the same time. By joining a Cabal, you have access to additional side missions from that Cabal to garner more XP and loot. You also have a community of people you can call on to jump into your game or jump into theirs. It’s a cool little way to meet other fellow WH40K fanatics and pick up some extra XP along the way, but it feels quite a bit tacked on at the same time. The game doesn’t necessarily need it, because to be honest, there’s more than enough going on (missions, crafting, morality choices, you name it). Perhaps it will grow into something more in the future.
One thing I strongly dislike about the Cabal is that it requires players to be connected to the Neocore servers at all times. I know that games-always-being-online is the current trend, but Neocore needs some heavy server improvement first. If I lost connection to the server at all, the game yanked me out to the main title immediately. Any progress I had made in a mission? Gone. Thank goodness WH40K: Inquisitor – Martyr saves often, because I lost connection quite a few times. I would suggest that Neocore figure out a way to add in an offline mode, but with the Cabal missions constantly swimming in the background, I doubt an offline mode could happen without a huge overhaul.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr isn’t perfect, but it’s the first enjoyable WH40K action title to grace the consoles since Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. While many may write it off as a Diablo III copycat, I believe it’s one of its best features, and it has plenty of other elements to set it apart from Diablo. The fact that I felt as thought I was playing out a possible mystery case from the files of Gregor Eisenhorn only added on the glee. It is, without a doubt, the best WH40K game on the PlayStation 4. It’s a shame that the unreliable, yet required online connection prevents the praise to reaching beyond that niche audience.
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr PS4 review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.