Space Hulk: Tactics – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based Strategy
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Space Hulk: Tactics – Review

Site Score
8.2
Good: The graphics look amazing, full of details
Bad: The game is a bit slow
User Score
9.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Space Hulk: Tactics is the most recent installment of the Warhammer 40k Space Hulk game adaptations. This setting has been used for many games already, each looking more impressive than the next in this dangerous and dark setting. Warhammer 40k Space Hulk is originally a board game, and this strategy game is paying homage to this origin. The game plays as a merge between XCOM  and a board game, adding new unique gameplay elements to the mix to spice things up. Space Hulk: Tactics has been developed by Cyanide Studio, and is published by Focus Home Interactive.

Story

A Blood Angel ship, returning from a brutal fight against the alien Xenos, receives a distress call originating from the Forge World planet Gorgonum. A massive Space Hulk is on a collision course with the planet, and will most likely destroy this strategically important world if it would crash into the planet. A Space Hulk is a giant mass of lost ships, asteroids, and other space debris, often grown to humongous proportions, even bigger than whole planets. So you, as a commander of a squad of Blood Angels Space Marines, are responsible for trying to destroy the Space Hulk by entering it, and eventually blowing it up by using anything highly explosive within the mass of wrecked ships. However, the Space Hulk is inhabited by numerous dangers, among which the insidious alien Genestealers.

This story is being told by a pretty cool looking cinematic at the start of the game. The animation during this cinematic is being kept at a minimum, but that doesn’t diminish the epic feel of the story. The rest of the story is being told as your squad explores the Space Hulk, trying to achieve their objectives. By playing through the first scripted missions, it immediately becomes clear that the Genestealers are super deadly, and you’ll quickly learn to watch your back at all times and are often being forced to make some strategic decisions regarding the survival of your troops.

There will also be awesome looking fully animated cinematics in-between the story missions, telling bits of the story as you play through the game.

Graphics

This game has a tremendously awesome gimmick: first person mode! As you play through the tutorial missions, you’ll learn how to work this game in first-person view. This view offers less strategic oversight, however, it looks incredibly cool! The whole dark atmosphere of the game is very well conducted in first person, and the maze of corridors within the space hulk feels as cramped and foreboding as it should. The armor of the Space Marines is beautifully detailed, and all objects around you look very epic and detailed overall. In isometric view mode, the game looks a lot more like any regular strategy game, but with the gloomy dark color scheme we are used from games of the Warhammer 40k universe. There is a great diversity in the design of the tiles, making the maps look pretty awesome. In both views you’ll be able to use ‘tactical vision’, which lets you see through walls. You’ll get a sort of gray-ish x-ray view, which outlines enemies you’ll be able to see in red, and highlights important objects and objectives. The UI is pretty simple and comprehensive; with all important information clearly visible on the screen. The animations which play whenever one of your troops is being attacked or is attacking, are pretty brutal as well!

Sound

The game is fully narrated: the cinematics, the voices of the characters, and the story briefings in-between missions are all voiced, and the voices fit very with thing the Warhammer 40k feel of the characters. The atmospheric sounds within the game are absolutely great. There is no music playing as you play through the levels, but the atmospheric sounds are more than adequate to convey the overall mood and feel of the setting.

Gameplay

Space Hulk: Tactics is a turn-based strategy game, letting you choose between two factions, with differing strategies: The Space Marines are deadly in raged combat, but can be singled out and ambushed. The Genestealers are deadly in melee combat, but will be killed on sight when spotted by a Space Marine in range.

Positioning is very important in this game. Both the Genestealers and the space marines will most likely kill anything they’ll encounter as soon as they attack, so it’s important to have the initiative. You’ll need to move around cleverly, and carefully choose your actions and positions. There are different types of units which will be unlocked as you play through the game, which you’ll be able to deploy in the order you want to at the spawn point in a mission, so you’ll be able to plan your positioning right at the moment you’ll spawn in your troops. Missions require to be completed within a certain number of turns. Moving around too quickly will get into the way of strategic positioning, but moving too slow will give the enemy the opportunity to surround and overwhelm your troops.

Your chance to hit is generally rather low, which makes spotting enemies all the more foreboding. Luckily you can boost your hit chance by using command cards, because a miss will give the enemy a rather big opportunity to kill you instead. However, instead of fighting head-on, you’ll have numerous more options to hinder the Genestealers; like closing doors or activating turrets. Using overwatch to guard an area and shoot whenever an enemy moves in sight is very powerful, but it’s also very much needed, because the Genestealers are much faster and quite deadly if they are able to move into melee combat.

If you initially detect Genestealers, but they are not in view yet, you’ll see them on the map as blips on a radar. Blips can contain either one or several Genestealers, up to three. A blip will only be revealed if a Terminator is looking directly at it. It’s pretty exciting as soon as you detect an enemy, because you know the Genestealers will move around much faster than your squad, and you’ll never know how much will be attacking you, until they are directly in sight. The game keeps you at the edge of your chair as you play through the missions. You feel very vulnerable as either faction, since you’ll see your troops going down as soon as an enemy manages to get you into sight or creep up on you.

Moving around, turning, and attacking, all cost action points, but an attack right after moving is free. The space marines don’t have much action points to work with, so they’ll move around very slowly, compared to the Genestealers. Both factions have Command Cards available to them, which are cards with special actions, boosts or abilities you can use during your turn. Space Marines can also convert these cards into extra action points if they are in a pinch and need to move around a bit more, and Genestealers can consume these cards to spawn extra units.

The game is rather slow: the space marines move very slowly. The Marines only get a few action points per turn, but their animation is slow as well. The animations really fit the heavy and clunky feel of the massive armor of the space marines, but you’ll have to wait quite a while each turn before the space marines are positioned. The action camera showing cool animations when enemies spawn in, or whenever you are attacking or getting attacked is really impressive, but after you’ve played a number of missions, it gets a bit old and just slows the game down. Sometimes it feels like the actions shown in the animation aren’t the most awesome ones happening in that turn, and sometimes the action camera is a bit late or doesn’t show all of the action.

Playing the Genestealers will let you use rather different tactics. The Space Marines will kill you as soon as you get in sight, so you need to be smart, avoid detection, and try to get in melee range as quickly as possible. You’ll need to use the many narrow hallways to flank the squad of Space Marines, and preferable attack them from multiple sides at once. Luckily, you’ll be able to see the Space Marines as they move around, you you’ll be able to plan your attacks well. Genestealers have a lot of action points each turn, and can move a lot faster than Space marines. With the Genestealers, the Command cards aren’t converted to extra action points, but to extra spawn tokens instead, reflecting the differences in strategy between the two factions.

Besides the story mode for both the Space Marines as well as the Genestealers, there is also a skirmish mode and ranked matches available, setting you up against other players. Next to the game modes, there’s also a mission editor, which will undoubtedly cause a steady inflow of cool new missions to play, generated by the player base. You’ll even be able to use different kind of Space Marines, like Space Wolves or Ultramarines!

Conclusion

Space Hulk: Tactics is a great looking strategy game within the beautifully dark Warhammer 40k universe. You’ll be able to choose between two factions, with very different gameplay strategies. Positioning is really important for both factions. The game is a bit slow, but it looks great and the soundscape really sets the mood of the game. The first person view is an awesome gimmick and looks super-cool, but it isn’t all that useful for this kind of game. This game is certainly recommended for fans of turn-based strategy games and the Warhammer 40k universe.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Space Hulk: Tactics - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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