DISCLOSURE: This game was reviewed on the following platform: PC! Check out our Review Policy page for more information.
We have been blessed by the Emperor (or the Omnissiah) for we’ve been blessed by a lot of cool games in the Warhammer 40k Universe! If you haven’t heard there’s new games that are coming out like a new Rogue Trader game and even a game about orks and their speedy vehicles! Of course we can’t forget about the boomer shooter Warhammer 40k Boltgun! Get your bolter ready because there’s enemies to purge!
Purge these Demons for the Emperor!
Let’s preface this by saying that I’m not a mega fan of the Warhammer franchise and have only brushed the surface of it. My favorite Warhammer game is a tie between WH40k: Mechanicus and Dawn of War Soulstorm. I’ve played the first Space Marine game and can’t wait for the second, and have played all the RTS games.
In terms of the tabletop I’ve only played it once in a virtual tabletop with a Krieg Army against a Raven Guard army and got absolutely destroyed. In terms of lore I’ve only watched fan videos and lore explanation and my favorite are the Death Korps of Krieg and the Salamanders Space Marine Chapter. So I’m not a complete beginner in the universe but not a veteran as well, and even with that this game is simply amazing!
An Ultramarine walks into a Forge World
You control a lone Space Marine of the Ultramarines Chapter as he’s sent by the Inquistion to the Forge World of Graia. If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s the same world where the game Space Marine took place with another character of the same chapter. This forge world really can’t get a break huh?
You’ll go through demons and heretics as you find what’s wrong with this forge world. You’ll soon know that the rogue tech-priests of Graia have been experimenting on a heretical power source that opened a warp rift. Now it’s your job to fix the damn mess they made and also slap Chaos Sorcerer back to the warp.
You’re sent with your Sternguard Veteran squad but only you survive the landing. It’s only you, a Bolter, and a bunch of Heretics and Demons to purge. Since you’re an Ultramarine this is more than enough for the job!
You’ll be going through heretics and demons as well as seeing some big demons like the Lord of Change as well. Most of the enemies will be from the domain of Nurgle and Tzeentch like Nurglings, Plague Toads, Blue Horrors and Flamers.
The Orchestra of your Arsenal!
There’s one thing that you’ll notice the moment you fire the first gun in the game. The sounds are MEATY and it really feels like you’re shooting miniature rockets like what a bolter really is. Some games Warhammer 40k games just don’t give the Bolters justice in terms of the sound and impact but this game does!
Not only does the game have some great shooting and impact sounds but even the small details as well. While you’re firing you might notice that there’s also sounds of the bullet casings falling to the ground. This is more prominent when you reload the Vengeance Launcher, a 6-shot grenade launcher revolver, and you can hear all the spent casings fall down as you reload!
As you play the game all of the sounds turn into a symphony. The heavy steps of your feet, the blasts of your weapons, the shell casings falling, the sounds of enemies firing, their limbs and gore flying it’s all so good!
Not to mention that in the span of the game you get a lot of different weapons. From Plasma Guns to Melta-guns to the mighty Grav-gun there’s no shortage of weapons here! I’m a bit sad though that there’s no flamer in the game and I pray to the God Emperor of Mankind everyday that they add it!
Booming and Shooting all the way!
Despite being a 8-foot tall demigod with 30 monster trucks worth of metal around you, the movement in this game is fast. Often in media and fan made animations Space Marines are shown as these lumbering walking tanks. Then there are some that show them as ultra fast killing machines, this game takes the latter into its gameplay.
This is a boomer shooter after all, and this Space Marine can sprint and go through a room killing heretics and go out in mere seconds!
The movement in this game is smooth, you can sprint around indefinitely while shooting around or you can just casually while killing. There are some weapons though that effect your movement like the Heavy Bolter that slows you down while you shoot, but generally you can still be mobile.
You get more guns as you progress through the levels but lose all the guns except the Bolter at the start of a new chapter. This makes it a bit sad for me because I’m torn away from my beloved Plasma Rifle, but you often find your old weapons back as well as new ones!
Of course since this is a Space Marine game and you’re using an Ultramarine you also have a Chainsword. You can hold right-click and aim your chainsword at an enemy, this will make your character sprint towards the enemy and mess him up!
This can be done while in mid-air too, which is great when changing your course. Of course you can rev up the chainsword to deal more damage as it cuts through an enemy and turn them into a pile of guts!
Details in the Gore and Death
From the main menu to the start of the game all the way to the end you can easily tell that this game is going for the old retro look. It’s not ultra-realistic graphics that can burn 10 GPUs in seconds, but it is heavily stylized.
I didn’t expect the style and themes of the Warhammer 40k universe to fit so well in an old school palette. It’s a welcomed surprise for sure and some of the areas that you go through look amazing for a game that expects you to run like a headless chicken.
Not only does it do the retro style well but you even get retro options! So you can adjust the pixelation and “retro palette” of the game. You can even maximize it so that your screen looks like it has a grand total of 50 pixels. I’ll have to deduct points for the UI since they’re not effected by the retro options. If I want an unreadable screen I want it in full!
The level design in this game is amazing and really stands out as places from Warhammer 40k. There’s always the odd Mechanicus Logo or Chaos Flag here and there to remind you of the settings. Even in the caves and tunnels there’s debris and containers filled with what I can only imagine are Imperial Guard MREs consisting of only the best nutrient paste and bars.
My Plasma Rifle Hurts Me
Of course this is a game that is heavily inspired by a universe that already has their rules. It is from a tabletop wargame after all, and these kinds of things love their rules. When you get a weapon the weapon has a Strength number, like a 4 for the Bolter, or 5 for the Grav-Cannon, or 3 for the Shotgun.
Every enemy has a Toughness number next to their health bar as well. Generally speaking, if your weapon’s strength is higher than the enemy’s toughness, it deals more damage. If it’s lower, then it’s not ideal (unless it’s been blessed by the Machine Spirits). If that doesn’t cry tabletop rules, I don’t know what does.
There are also little in-lore details the game shows when you’re playing. Like my beloved Plasma Rifle damaging me if I shoot it too much. Or how demons would fight each other if they hit each other accidentally. Not to mention that the idle animation for your character is that he reads the Codex, of course he does.
If you’re a lore nerd or just like the setting in general, then this game is for you. You even get to slap around the Lord of Change from time to time which is lore-accurate! I feel sorry for the guy honestly.
In The Grim Darkness of the 42nd Millennium, There Can Be No Victor
As much as I throw praise to the game there are some glaring issues I have with it. They’re minor issues that don’t really ruin the game, but they add up. These can be a problem for some people.
Let’s talk about small sizes. Nurglings are too annoying to fight, they’re a swarm type enemy that loves to jump around. Not only that but some of them throw projectiles at you as well which makes it more annoying. Then we have the health and armor (contempt) drops from enemies. Why are they so small? I often have to double-back to try and get them, and they give too few. A Blue Horror drops one small armor pickup which gives you 2 points, they swipe you for 20.
Then there is the Charge ability, an ability I can count on one hand on how many times I’ve used it overall. When you use the Charge Ability it you dash for a distance knocking away enemies. Then you wait for a cooldown. You can’t use it in Mid-air and you can’t quickly chain it because of cooldowns. You know what can do all of that with the added effect of slowing down time? Using the chainsword.
Speaking of the Chainsword, at lower difficulties it can be awesome to use. At higher difficulties you’re giving yourself a disadvantage using it, specially since you still take damage while revving the sword. There are also times where it just fails to lock-on to a target, even though they’re right in front of you. Maybe because they’re too close to a curved wall, or there’s a Chaos Flag to their left, only the Emperor knows.
The game also has a lot of other problems that may be a big turn-off for some people. Like how damage isn’t conveyed well to the player or how at the highest difficulties balancing is a bit off. At the highest difficulty the normal fights are still super easy while the Purge sections absolutely kills you. I personally don’t like the idea of starting every chapter with only the Bolter. Some people don’t like it as well.
The Emperor’s Light Shines
Warhammer 40K Boltgun Review
Warhammer 40k Boltgun is a great game, and a perfect addition to the pile of amazing Warhammer games out there. There’s only a few of them and it’s great that we have a new one. The fast-paced combat, the theme and lore oozing out from the weapons and levels as well as the enemies’ innards is great. It may have some problems here and there but as a boomer shooter it still delivers that amazing gameplay. Hopefully it gets even better with age! I’ll give the game a final score of 4.8/5.