Warhammer 40,000: Deathwatch – Tyranid Invasion

A_Team Review

It’s a pretty good time to be a gamer and Games Workshop fan. There’s a slew of games that have been announced or are in development covering the breadth of Games Workshop universes. And while the ten-sided dice and miniature painting may not appeal to everyone, I’ve heard space marines make for pretty good video game fodder these days.

Rodeo games have gratifyingly focused on a little-known corner of the Warhammer 40k universe with their latest game Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion. The Deathwatch are a special chapter of elite space marines handpicked from their respective legions and tasked with eliminating the zeno threat across the galaxy. In 40k, Space Marines are genetically modified post-human super soldiers, that have back up hearts and lungs that can breathe poisonous atmospheres, they are essentially immortal as long as their heads don’t get chewed off and in Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion they face their arch nemesis and perhaps the most alien of the 40k races, the Tyranids. With a name like that the Tyranids are (obviously), an extragalactic race hell bent on consuming all biological life in order to multiply.

Deathwatch started off as a mobile game before it was enhanced with updated graphics for this PC release. The mobile DNA of the original game comes across quite clearly in this enhanced version. Somewhere during the port process Rodeo Games must have offended the Machine Spirit. This version of the game still carries over some of the mobile versions quirks; some instructions still ask you to tap the screen and although the micro transactions have been removed, you are awarded space bucks at the end of each mission with which you can buy packs of cards that will randomly award you new space marines and war gear.

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The gameplay is turn based so it is slow and methodical, the space marines don’t have a great deal of movement range, so you will end up moving incrementally towards the objective while reserving action points to leave your marines on overwatch for the enemy turn. The action takes places across grid-based maps (or boards if you will) which occasionally causes problems with movement and positioning. Marines and enemies take up one square, meaning if they are standing in a doorway, your other marines cannot see, move or shoot past them. The line of sight mechanics also prevents your squad from seeing what lurks behind visible enemies until they’re reduced to chunks of meat.

Mission variety is limited, with most objectives providing a mix of running down the turn counter, or moving the squad from one position on the map to another. You will frequently find yourself creating overwatch traps and waiting for the bugs to come to you.

There are camera controls, allowing you to compose cool scenes and zoom into the action, however, moving the camera anywhere other than its default birds-eye-view obscures the markers around the base of each character that display remaining action points. Irksomely, during enemy turns the camera pans to active enemies to display their move, while in principle this makes sense, it often doesn’t show which of your units is being targeted so you have to wait for the camera to pan back to your squad before you see which marine as being targeted.

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Deathwatch does get the look of the 40k universe right. The use of Unreal Engine 4 (which seems to be the current go-to game engine for 40k games) is used to great effect. The marines look every bit as menacing as they should and the environments are particularly faithful to Imperial architecture and 40k scenery. Additionally the weapons are spot on; bolters are lethal and accurate while the heavy bolters lugged around by devastator marines have the satisfying percussive boom of a gleefully over-sized gun.

 

In many ways Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion feels like you’re playing the tabletop game with the miniatures and there is something rather nice about that, there’s no two player mode in this game, but I suspect it’s top of the wishlist for a sequel.  I also spent a lot of time while playing this thinking it would make a great mobile game, and for that reason I can’t recommend it highly enough. But if you’re looking for a deep tactical turn-based Space Marine shooter for your PC, you might be disappointed and at £20 you’d have to be an Imperial acolyte to succumb, especially when the mobile version can be had for peanuts. There is a good game here and I have no doubt a few DLC packs or even a sequel aimed more at the PC crowd could win over the non-compliant. Despite its issues I genuinely hope this isn’t the last outing for the Deathwatch.

 

Score: 7/10

Pros:

-Focusses on a less well-known part of 40k universe

-Environments and characters look great

-Would make a great mobile game

Cons:

-Lacks tactical depth

-Some balance issues

-Awkward camera controls

Frugal Gaming Review – Child of LIght

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Playable Female Character? Check

Red Hair? Check

A Ubisoft Game? Surprisingly Check!

Reminds Me Of Childhood Memories

Sounds like a Gallifrayan’s dream come true.  Child of Light has been out for a while now and whilst I’ve been wanting to play it for some time, it’s been sitting and stagnating amongst my vast pile of shame.  So braving the murky waters of UPlay on PC I’ve decided to set that right and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you lovely lot.

The game casts you as Aurora, a small Austrian girl with flaming red hair.  Having gone to sleep one night, you awake to find yourself in the mythical land of Lemuria.  Filled with all sorts of beasties and baddies to battle along the way, your quest is a simple one of a small girl trying to get home to her father.  Along the way you will meet some curious companions –  Tristis a Court Jester with acrobatic attacks, Finn a magic wielding Dwarf and even a Rock Gollum via DLC.

Both the story and the characters wouldn’t seem out of place in a Hans Christian Andersen fable.  Likewise that graphical style could best be described as illustrations come to life.  It truly is one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.  At time mesmerising to behold, the UbiArt Framework engine has been one of the industry highlights for me over the last couple of years.

The game play itself is split into two definite types.  Your exploration takes the form of a simple 2D platforming game, with a bit a flying and a firefly thrown in for good measure.  It’s graceful in movement and a complete joy to play.  Simple light based puzzles and the odd pull/push drag a block around are all unsurprisingly featured.  There are lots to discover in the game, hidden chests and such and whilst it’s nice to find them, the contents don’t exactly lull you into keep searching.

The other game play element concerns combat.  Head towards a foe and the game switches to its turn/time based strategy element.  A meter across the bottom of the screen has icons for each combatant, a bit like the seaside donkey derby games, your character will race along to the activation line when you can then unleash your attack or ability.  Each character, both friend and foe feature on this line and it determines the order of attacks.  So it’s a bit of a twist on turn based combat and anyone who’s played a Final Fantasy game will feel at home.

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If I Stare Too Long, I’d Probably Break Down and Cry

So that’s the meat and potatoes of Child of Light.  A solid little game, but my problem is that it’s not that little.  I’ve played about 5 hours so far, it’s still not completed and it’s back in my pile of shame.  I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve played, but over the 5 hours that I’ve played the game just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Although you can level up your character and add new moves and attacks none of it feels different enough from what you start out with, hence the boredom. It’s like that perfect partner that you could take home to mum, treats you like a goddess and would never stray, everyone loves them but at the end of the day they really are a bit of a bore, and you find yourself hankering for something more immediate, dirty and dangerous.  Child of Light is a great idea, and Ubisoft must be applauded for offering games like this along with Valiant Hearts.  But campaign edges towards the 10 hour mark and feels bloated, I’d rather have had 5 hours of exploration and no combat to be perfectly honest.

COL_Screenshot_5_DD_130910_9When you find a game that you want to love, it’s all the more heartbreaking when you realise it just isn’t for you.  No doubt some people will love Aurora’s adventures and rightly so, it’s just definitely not for everyone.  Whilst the combat is a drag that I could of overcome, the lack of engagement with the supporting characters and the way dialogue is presented is a huge stumbling block in wanting to see the whole thing through.

We’ve all got games that we leave half completed, Child of Light might remain that way sometime for me, instead I’m off to the trenches of the First World War, a Dog is clearly a much better companion than a wisp of light.  I can’t wait to see where the UbiArt engine might take us next.

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Child of Light is available on all major platforms – Version tested PC