Maybe the last word dream of a ‘90s Metalhead nerd, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is the fusion of retro-style first-person shooters with the beloved sci-fi universe that birthed the time period “grimdark.” It will get quite a lot of enjoyable mileage purely from combining the aesthetics, sense of story, and stage design of a sport like Duke Nukem 3D or the unique Doom with the wealthy library of character designs that 40K has constructed up in its 35 or so years of historical past. You are a Area Marine Sternguard, a embellished elite who does not say a lot, and also you’re on mortgage to the scary and really imply imperial Inquisition. Your job is to kill the whole lot between you and… no matter goal you are presently after. Do not suppose too laborious – there’s not a lot of a plot right here, only a complete lot of old style working and gunning.
Throughout three chapters and some dozen ranges you will cleanse, purge, and kill each single Chaos-worshiping heretic and daemon on the extraordinarily brown-and-gray forge world of Graia. (Easter egg: That is additionally the setting of 2011’s Warhammer 40,000: Area Marine, which technically makes this a spinoff-sequel to that story.) You are guided alongside the best way by a little bit Servo-Cranium who, in a pleasant play on the standard annoying floating companion archetype, simply provides deadpan in-universe commentary on the world round you – largely to notice issues like how a close-by stack of bins is organized in an unapproved, possible heretical style. It’s going to additionally level out room exits in complicated bits, albeit inconsistently.
The retro cred of Boltgun is simple, although I’ve to notice you can flip down the pixelation and tweak the colour filter to make it less complicated to see what is going on on. That’ll depart you with extra of a low-poly shooter with clean textures and 2D sprite enemies in case you for some purpose are a mutant that prefers crisp traces and unmuddled distance views. In my view, I fairly favored the visible filters and located the pixel fashion improves Boltgun’s appear and feel.
The retro cred of Boltgun is simple.
It takes one thing like eight to 10 hours to beat the marketing campaign, which begins a bit gradual however ramps up shortly into a powerful center part, and ends on a spree of unremarkable finish ranges that’re punctuated with some actually surprising and enjoyable gems. Like quite a lot of retro-shooters, Boltgun might be greatest loved by those that’re occupied with difficult its hardest difficulties. Meaning getting the grasp of the run-and-gun fight and motion skills in a bid to grasp stage layouts and weapon sorts – one thing that the weapons in Boltgun lend themselves effectively to, as every has a particular job to do.
Talking of weapons, there are eight of these plus your chainsword, which you’ll mash the button to rev in melee and make your enemies explode into strawberry jam. I used to be a specific fan of the sticky grenade-firing Vengeance Launcher (making its triumphant return from Area Marine) and the Heavy Bolter which, in true retro-shooter style, by no means requires a reload – it simply retains firing till your ammo pool is dry. Additionally of observe are the long-range plasma gun, the cone-shaped blast of the melta gun, and the precision beam of the volkite caliver, all of which fill a helpful area of interest in your arsenal.
Whether or not it is the titular Boltgun, a pleasant shotgun, or the heavy-melting graviton gun, each weapon has a Energy stat and each enemy has one for Toughness. Weapons of decrease Energy than a goal’s Toughness deal a lot much less injury, whereas extra highly effective weapons punch proper by means of baddies. Meaning it’s worthwhile to modify on the fly, ensuring to preserve high-strength ammunition for high-toughness enemies – and know when to bust out the large weapons to clear a crowd of mid-level baddies earlier than they swamp you. If this sounds acquainted to you then you definately most likely play tabletop Warhammer and can deeply admire this stage of dedication to the bit.
When you play tabletop Warhammer you’ll deeply admire this stage of dedication to the bit.
Talking of dedication: You could have well being in Boltgun, however you do not have armor – you may have Contempt. It’s a contact that’s deliciously appropriate to the fanatical hyper-zealot warrior-monks that the Area Marines are and a pleasant callback to the notorious Area Marine mantra “My armour is contempt, my protect is disgust, my sword hatred. Within the Emperor’s identify, let none survive.”
And there positive are quite a lot of baddies to un-survive. Boltgun hardly ever appears afraid to throw massive hordes at you, even in small areas: a number of occasions per stage you will hit a big area and the display will tint crimson, indicating that you’ve got entered “Purge Mode” and due to this fact are locked right into a fight area. That is the place Boltgun shines, asking you to take advantage of your superhuman jumps, sprints, expenses, and immunity to fall injury to evade and obliterate overwhelming odds. Purge Mode enemies will preserve spawning till you knock out a number of key enemies – usually the hardest ones like larger Daemons, Chaos Terminators, and boss monsters.
They’re usually good enemies, to be trustworthy. Properly balanced between ranged and melee, they require you to modify ways: No working round within the open towards Chaos Terminators and their long-range autocannons, for instance. Or absolutely the jerks which are Chaos Champions, livid melee combatants who, when killed in any manner that doesn’t flip them into giblets, will pray to their darkish gods for an opportunity to return to life. There’s additionally a number of with good, bizarre powers thrown in – like Pink Horrors, who develop into two Blue Horrors when killed. Pleasant and true to 40K canon!
I additionally loved the handful of bosses, and even after they repeated they have been fairly nasty to battle: I all the time discovered it useful to discover a secret cache with a vortex grenade and stored it on-hand for these events. Nothing ends a higher daemon’s day like a tiny black gap that is additionally a portal straight again to area Hell.
Enemies are silly as rocks.
There are simply two issues with the horde of unhealthy guys. The primary is that enemies are silly as rocks, usually content material to allow you to gun them down from vary if they can not see you or get to you. It feels particularly unhealthy when it is a melee enemy. They do not even attempt to cover, which takes among the satisfaction out of a kill. For many individuals, particularly challenge-seekers, the braindead AI is the place this sport will threat dropping them.
The opposite drawback is that by midway by means of the marketing campaign you’ll have seen the final of the brand new enemy sorts and even bosses – there’s no more than 20 in whole. Even apparent enemy variations would have been welcome: Each single Chaos Area Marine you battle is carrying the identical boltgun and grenades, with not one plasma or meltagun to be seen. Even stranger to me is that whilst you battle loads of Daemons it is all the time both Plague or Change monsters – by no means a mixture of the 2, which looks like it will have been a straightforward manner to offer a little bit of selection.
In concept, this shortage of enemy sorts ought to be counterable with robust stage design. That treatment works for many of Boltgun, however by the top of the second chapter wandering corridors in search of coloured keys begins to get a bit boring – a gameplay cliche I believe we must always have discovered was a nasty match for this setting from 2003’s Warhammer 40K: Fireplace Warrior. It is that connective tissue between these intense area fights that begins to get a bit repetitive, and whereas there are secrets and techniques to attempt to discover, none of them are significantly creative – largely simply issues hidden behind or inside a hexagonal grimdark transport container. Not one illusionary wall to stroll by means of or obtusely hidden door to find (or if there are, I couldn’t discover them).
To its credit score, almost each stage has not less than one standout half: you’ll battle by means of sprawling cathedral interiors, area protection cannons, forge complexes, and alien-dug caverns amongst others. I significantly favored one enormous cathedral-like area with smaller church buildings suspended inside it, every of which needed to be reached by soar pads. There’s additionally an important stage set in an enormous foundry the place you battle up one facet of a river of molten goop, then down the opposite.
There are some actual standout ranges right here, too. The massive elevator on the orbital Crown station is a big, repeated area battle in a fancy multi-level construction that I cherished leaping and climbing round as I fought. As a rule I’ve all the time hated ranges which are one large elevator, however Boltgun can now proudly declare to be the exception that proves it.
Boltgun impresses with Warhammer 40K chops and a completely realized imaginative and prescient of the well-known franchise as a contemporary retro-shooter, mild on story however heavy on motion and nods to the tabletop sport. The extent design of its many fast-paced area fights is pleasing, however the momentum drags as soon as the brand new weapon and enemy sorts run out about midway by means of. Nonetheless, the standard’s excessive sufficient that I by no means bought bored – however I believe somebody who is not hungry for a retro-shooter or any 40K sport they’ll get their fingers on may be a bit let down.