Over recent years there has been a constant slew of Warhammer 40k themed games and sadly the majority of them have been pretty poor. Just when you thought all was lost along comes a game like Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus to restore your faith. What makes Mechanicus stand out is not only the fact that it’s good but also that Bulwark Studios have decided to focus on a conflict between two of the lesser known factions of the 40k universe. Namely the Adeptus Mechanicus vs the Necron (think Egyptian themed immortal robots).
You can check out the launch trailer below:
The Tech Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus fulfil the role of chief scientists of the Empire and revere everything technological. They are as much machine as they are flesh and have heavily augmented minds and bodies, to the point where some of them can only communicate mathematically. Although they are scientists they treat their role with a religious zeal that causes rifts between them. On one hand some of them want to learn everything there is in the universe whilst on the other some believe that anything new or alien is akin to getting into bed with the devil himself. This leads to rather amusing exchanges between the lead characters as they argue what course of action to take.
The game itself plays out like Xcom in that Mechanicus is a turn-based tactical shooter but there are plenty of things to differentiate it. Cover is almost non-existent which leads to some frantic battles, especially as the game progresses and you are taking on more powerful and plentiful enemies. I did have a few issues with the combat where I couldn’t tell with confidence if an enemy would have line of sight on one of my troops but not so much that is became a serious issue.
Within the battles not only do you take command of one or more Tech Priests but you can also bring other troops from your cohort into battle. These troops come in lots of varieties ranging from the lowly Servitors (essentially meat shields) to the beastly Kastelan robots. Each troop type is varied and has its own specialties, meaning you can tweak your troops to compliment your style of play. I found the Tech Priests pretty weak to begin with and they were pitiful at ranged combat. This forced me to take a more melee based approach and as soon as I got to grips with this things fared much better and I actually started winning.
The battles themselves are governed by a resource called cognition. You use cognition for everything including extra movement, firing weapons and using special abilities. It’s also used for beaming in your cohort troops mid-battle assuming you have enough. There are cognition spawn points scattered around the map where you can swipe a few extra points making you choose between diving into your mission or managing your resources.
As you progress through missions you gradually acquire Blackstone. Blackstone is the currency used to upgrade your Tech Priests and you can tinker to your hearts content. There are six core skill trees to chose from each with their own unique traits. You could choose to follow a single tree or you can mix and match. Later in the game you end up with a fair few Tech Priests at your disposal so I recommend experimenting to find the best match for you. Given that I had chosen to take a melee based approach I tended towards the Explorator (melee) and Enginseer (healer) classes backed up with a few Skitari Rangers to give me a bit of long range support. It doesn’t take too many missions to get your Tech Priests beefed up enough to become walking armies in their own right with loads of tools at their disposal.
Between battles you are given a tactical overview of the map showing each room in the Necron tomb you are raiding. You simply click on the next room and are presented with various options with no indication as to the result of each choice. If you’re lucky you might gain a few extra Blackstone, on the other hand some of your troops might suffer damage. You have no control over what happens and for me this aspect of the game serves no real purpose other than to break up the battles.
To sum up, Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus was a lot of fun to play. It took me a while to get to grips with what was going on and how to succeed in battle but as soon as the penny dropped I was hooked. Bulwark Studios have captured the personality of the Adeptus Mechanicus perfectly, not only with the bickering characters but with the art style and the truly stunning sound. You can customise Tech Priests to your heart’s content and there is sure to be a combination to suit any play style. If you’re fan of Xcom or if you want to explore a 40k game that’s actually good then Mechanicus is one you should definitely check out.
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher. The game is available to buy now on Steam.
Publisher: Kasedo Games Developer: Bulwark Studios Release date: November 15th, 2018 Reviewed on: PC