06/11/2020

๐Ÿ’ฅ Necromunda: Underhive Wars | Review | PS4 | "The World is A Dark Place" ๐Ÿ’ฅ @NecromundaUW #IndieGames #GameDev

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The world is a dark place.  As winter creeps in (the clocks have just gone back meaning it’s pitch black by 2pm), I am drawn to darker games. No Animal Crossing escapism for me. No, it’s dungeon crawling and shadowy places all the way. And you get plenty of that in Rogue Factor’s Necromunda: Underhive Wars. 

As with their previous foray into Warhammer tabletop game adaptations (Mordheim: City of the Damned), their new effort is dark, menacing, and unforgiving. So far, so good then. Very much my cup of tea (milk, no sugar). 

I’ve written before of my love for all things X-Com. Since Laser Squad in ’88, I’ve had a bit of a hard spot for turn-based strategic chicanery. So, add a dash of Warhammer lore, particularly the 40K flavour, to the mix and I’m sold.

But gosh darn it, it is SLOW. I mean, turn-based games can always be slow as you can take all the time you want. You can choose to make Garry Kasparov look impulsive and rushed if you feel the need to think 10 steps ahead and pore over every option a thousand times. But you shouldn’t be slowed by the game itself. When the tactics to employ are clear it still seems to take an age to implement them. 

The added realism of having movement by distance rather than squares is a nice idea in theory, but just meant I was ambushed far too often as it wasn’t clear where was safe(ish) to plant my troops and where wasn’t. And whereas you can use a piece of string to measure out distances on an actual tabletop, Necromunda’s levels look a bit like HR Giger designed a car park (possibly the one underneath Tina Turner’s Thunderdome) and so gauging range was nigh on impossible as you contended with enemies several floors above and below you. 

The gameplay is just too clunky and onerous to make me want to put the hours in. The first few levels took too long and you’re not really given enough guidance, nor is it particularly intuitive either. I found the experience to be more hard work than fun, and I don’t have the inclination to put the hours into *maybe* get to the point when it pays off.

On the plus side, Necromunda does have an absorbing set of characters and the missions feel like they have purpose as part of an ongoing narrative. The heroes and enemies all look great in that steampunk/Warhammer 40k way that I certainly love. And there’s also the fact that one of the tribes/gangs (and the one you start with) is all female. In 2020, this is still a rarity in games and something we need to see more of. 

This feels to me like a game that will be only fully enjoyed by dedicated fans of the Warhammer universe who can overlook that playability issues to get a fix of this part of the Warhammer universe that hasn’t previously been given (video) game time. 

We can applaud efforts to make it feel like a real place, but this realism and depth (there are many options to evolve and enhance your warriors) seems to have come at the cost of playability. 

I had to go back to this game in quite short bursts, which is not my experience with better quality games of the genre. I find they draw me in and I’m playing for hours at a time. 

Perhaps, with the investment of many (many) more hours of play, Necromunda would get under my skin, like some sort of steampunk augmentation chip, and I could forgive the irksome gameplay, but I can only recommend this game to the most committed Warhammer mega fan.

6/10

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