Close up screenshot of our main character from Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr is an action-RPG that combines the grim darkness of the Warhammer 40k universe with the randomly generated levels and loot of the Diablo series. What this means in gameplay terms is that you will spend most of your time wondering across large levels filled to the brim with enemies, blowing said enemies apart with a variety of weapons, and naturally, collecting more loot than the human body could ever hope to carry.

However, if you're wondering how exactly Inquisitor - Martyr stacks up to its ARPG competition, as well as where it strays from the Emperor's light, allow me to share my thoughts after a quite a few hours of hacking and slashing.

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of a large Imperial ship

You know it's Warhammer 40k when ships are cathedrals lined with guns on all sides

As you can deduce from the both its name and the image above, Inquisitor - Martyr is well and truly a Warhammer 40,000 game. Rather than simply use the license to add a little bit of flavor to its ARPG action, Inquisitor - Martyr goes all out in order to create a surprisingly authentic Warhammer 40k experience. Your character's armor and weapons are absurdly large and visually impressive, the environments are highly utilitarian and riddled with skull-shaped iconography, while pretty much all of the enemies are deformed cultists, pox-ridden demons, and other such lovely creations.

Even the voice actors are doing everything they can to make Inquisitor - Martyr feel like a genuine part of the Warhammer 40k universe, by which I mean they are hamming it up to the point of ridiculousness. Almost every speech has a grandiose tone, every proclamation is delivered with the utmost seriousness, and every single dialogue feels like it's about to burst into a shouting match about whose love for the Emperor is greater. I didn't find the story itself to be particularly exciting, but there is certainly fun to be had with it when even the characters themselves are aware of just how over-the-top they are.

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr close up screenshot of the Inquisitor himself

It's hard not to love characters this over-the-top

However, while the utilitarian levels add a great deal of atmosphere to the game, the same approach does not work well when applied to the weapons. In most ARPGs you get new spells and abilities as you level up, but in Inquisitor - Martyr this is not the case. Instead, every single weapon has four unique abilities, abilities you will have to use from the very beginning of your campaign to the very end of the game. It is certainly an interesting idea, and one I could definitely see working if the spells were as malleable as they are in Path of Exile, but unfortunately this is not the case in Inquisitor - Martyr.

Pretty much every single ability is a variation of shooting the enemy in the face, and while it does indeed feel great to completely incinerate Nurglings with a heavy flamer, the magic starts running out after a couple of hours when you realize you've literally seen everything Inquisitor - Martyr has to offer in terms of weaponry. There are some talents later on that give you additional effects, and those do change your gameplay in a fairly significant way, but even with that considered you're still going to be stuck with the same four abilities that usually consist of shooting, shooting slightly faster, shooting while moving backwards, or perhaps most excitingly, shooting while briefly stunning the enemy!

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of the melee combat

The abilities are a bit generic, but they tear the enemies apart in all the right ways

The big saving grace for Inquisitor - Martyr's longevity is that the three different classes do indeed play quite differently. The Crusader (my personal favorite) wields the heaviest weapons and wears so much armor that he could make even a tank jealous. His playstyle is that of an encroaching doom - slowly and steadily advancing through the levels, dispensing righteous fury and copious amounts of explosives as he goes. It's the closest I could get to feeling like a Space Marine, and as you might expect, it's pretty awesome being able to shrug off blows that could level buildings!

On the other end of the spectrum you have the Assassin, a class that actually features both stealth and sniping mechanics in an ARPG. Throughout the early game I found the Assassin to be ridiculously fun, especially since I could whittle away the strongest enemies from range before jumping in with my swords and turning the rest into minced meat. However, as the missions got harder and the enemies more numerous, my playstyle became less and less effective. In the end I spent more of my time hiding behind walls than I did dashing around, and that is a real shame since the Assassin works best when you have complete freedom on your hands.

The final class is a bit of an interesting take on your standard mage archetype. Instead of having a mana system that limits how many spells you can throw at your enemies, the Psyker's ability, if overused, results in various warp anomalies spawning all around you. So it's less about resource management, and more about how much you're willing to sacrifice in order to dish out just a bit more damage. That said, I mostly just found myself using guns to shoot down the enemies anyway, so after a while I decided to stop playing the Psyker and went back to the Crusader. After all, if I'm going to spend most of my time blasting demons apart, it might as well be with the biggest weapons around!

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of a Heavy Flamer being used against a boss

The enemies follow this philosophy as well!

As I've mentioned early on, most of these weapons are a pure joy to use from a visual and audio standpoint. Enemies blow apart when hit by plasma rounds, they flail around in panic when sprayed with the heavy flamer, and they noticeably recoil back when shot by the 'standard' rifles. It really is a great deal of fun to shoot enemies in Inquisitor - Marty, but much like everything else in the Warhammer 40k universe, this excellent feature has a dark counterpart. In this case I'm talking about the incredibly slow pace, mostly due to high enemy health and slow movement speed.

Just to give you some perspective, I'm currently playing a character in Path of Exile that has so much movement and attack speed I can barely comprehend where I'm going if every buff turns on at once. In Inquisitor - Martyr, however, my character feels like he's constantly wearing the incredibly heavy and unwieldy wearing terminator armor. Outside of the Assassin dashes everything about your characters in Inquisitor - Martyr is around 50% slower than it should be. The end result is that it just doesn't feel exciting to play a quick match as it does to play a map in Diablo 3 or Path of Exile. You just spend far too much time walking around and far too little time blazing from one enemy group to another, and that is a real problem since Warhammer 40k and the ARPG genre as a whole are one gigantic power fantasy.

I believe a lot of this is caused by the combat being focused around cover, a thoroughly clunky mechanic that glues you to the wall and limits your actions. It is occasionally useful and you will have to rely on it as you start encountering more powerful ranged enemies, but it never really felt like a fun thing to do for me. It also doesn't help that a lot of enemies have weapons that obliterate cover, or just grenades that go through it, so instead of being able to take a tactical position you constantly have to awkwardly re-glue yourself to different pieces of scenery. In the end I opted to completely ignore the cover system and just go with slightly easier missions. It might not have been an optimal use of my time in terms of rewards, but it was certainly a lot more enjoyable.

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of a giant Chaos enemy

It's way more exciting to charge this thing with a sword and shield than it is to cover behind a wall!

Speaking of missions, Inquisitor - Martyr has a rather interesting system to help you tailor them to your sort of playstyle. With the help of Uther's Tarot you can mess with the difficulty, the amount and variety of enemies, the type of gear that's going to drop, and the list goes on for a while. It's an excellent system as it provides not only an incentive to group up with other players, but also plenty of challenging gameplay and some much needed variety. You can only do these missions every so often as you're limited by in-game currency, but that's probably for the best as it keeps them unique and engaging.

The actual gear and customization, however, I am not so keen on. Every mission you choose requires a certain item level to complete 'optimally', which is fair enough, but the problem arises from the fact that you're actually heavily penalized by trying to square off against harder missions! You can have perfectly adequate gear, but since you don't have a specific item level the game will reduce your attack and defense, thus essentially forcing you to pick up even completely mismatched gear in order to raise an otherwise arbitrary number. It is a completely unnecessary system that only served to annoy me throughout my playthrough, constantly punishing me for choosing to gear my character like I wanted to rather than blindly slapping on whatever had a bigger number.

A similar story applies to the talents, by which I mean they are an illusion of choice. On first glance it looks like you have tons upon tons of talents to choose from, and you really do, but more than 90% of them are nearly irrelevant stat increases that you will never notice in game. To Inquisitor - Martyr's credit, there are some genuinely interesting choices that appear later on, but it's still not enough in an era where other ARPGs have hundreds of unique builds you can create just through talents alone.

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of talents

Really gets you excited about leveling up, doesn't it?

Since I've been on a bit of a negative streak, allow me to change gear by mentioning that the co-op multiplayer is a great deal of fun. Since every character is incredibly specialized just because of how the skill system works, you often end up creating a surprisingly effective team that can cover each other's weaknesses. So instead of having to constantly hide behind cover in order to protect your frail Assassin, you can use your fellow Crusaders to soak up the damage while you wreak havoc from behind! It's nothing too special for the ARPG genre, but whenever the servers were behaving I found myself having a blast ploughing through demons with other players by my side.

I just wish there was a better way of choosing missions. Inquisitor - Martyr has the classic ARPG problem of almost every mission objective being exactly the same, so if you don't force yourself to shift between them you can quickly start getting fatigued by playing the same thing over and over and over again. In singleplayer this is somewhat avoidable since you can choose the missions yourself, but in multiplayer you're completely at the mercy of randomness, and that can lead to some frustrating moments. Not enough to dampen my enjoyment of multiplayer, mind you, but enough to make me weary about playing more than a couple of rounds at a time.

Warhammer 40k: Inquisitor - Martyr screenshot of an enemy from up close

Closing Thoughts

While it might sound like I hate Inquisitor - Martyr, it's more that I'm disappointed about it's squandered potential. The action isn't very tight, the customization is severely lacking and the loot system often stifling, while the seemingly important tactical elements rarely come together to form anything cohesive. The end result is a beautiful ARPG that never manages to elevate itself beyond simply being average. I can only hope the Omnissiah will guide the developers towards a brighter future because Inquisitor - Martyr really has some interesting ideas behind it, and exploding demons by the hundreds is genuinely a good time, but it's just that none of those ideas have been fully fleshed out just yet.

As far as recommendations are concerned, I would only advise getting Inquisitor - Martyr at a deep discount. I simply cannot in good conscience recommend anyone to purchase it for €45 when the much superior Path of Exile is completely and utterly free. That said, I would still keep an eye on Inquisitor - Martyr because the developers might still be able to return triumphant from the brink, as is tradition in Warhammer 40k.