I will start by admitting that I don’t know much about W40K lore, I saw some games, heard some of my friends talking about it, and at best I watched a lot of memes with the word “Heretic” on it. So I might not talk about the W40K stuff or recognize some of the obvious names for others.
Now we got that out of the way… I’ll start by admitting that this game surprised me. And I mean by how damn good it is in almost every aspect. Almost!
Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is a…. survival, turn-based strategy game with quite a lot of the board game element in it. And with added RPG element as well.
You are playing a faction of cybernetically enhanced warrior priests, fighting against the resurrected Necron armies. Or rather. You spend the whole game preparing your own army to fight the inevitable resurrection.
I was blown away by the amazing visuals, The graphics looks amazing, The artstyle looks damn good with the typical Warhammer dark cyberpunk fantasy style, And almost all the screen effects looks amazing. I don’t think I will ever get tired of that melting screen transition that plays before every combat with the ominous Necron art. Still gives me the chills.
The Music is a combination of dark fantasy epic music with electronic metal theme. The whole OST fits almost every situation they’re featured in.
Playing in handheld didn’t even hinder the experience. It still looks amazing and texts are highly readable. Good news for people who plays strictly in handheld.
You start with your Hub ship. Which has 3 different areas. First there’s the mission room in which you can pick missions, each with different objective, rewards, and enemy types. You choose from 2 or 3 different available missions. The Cohort option, and the Tech option.
In the Cohort option. You can customize your Magos. aka your “heroes”. Upgrade the discipline for each Magos (something like a talent tree) and unlock Augment slots in which you can equip more weapons, more tools, everything you need to make your Magos a powerful Xenos killing man-machine. You can customize all Magos from scratch. Whether you want to focus in melee, ranged, or support. or jack-of-all-trades. it’s all up to you.
You can also customize color schemes of your Servitors. Aka the disposable foot soldiers.
And finally the Tech page. Where you can check everything that you have unlocked so far. From addons, augments, weapons, units, and all. This is more of a log and collection page.
Once you picked a mission, you’ll be greeted by tons and I mean tons of dialogues. Which we’ll return to later. And you’ll arrive in the holographic layout of the level. Now this game turns into a somewhat of a mix between the board game, and the strategy game.
You start by exploring the place with a caveat, the more you explore, the harder the fight later becomes. Because the Necrons are waking up, it’s up to you whether to explore the area further to possibly find more things. or just go straight to combat and hopefully fight less Necrons before they all wake up (Also get stronger the more you explore the area).
As when you explore a marked area. You’ll be presented with a role-playing scenario and three choices, which is mostly the scientific, religious, or strategic option. Picking one or the other yields more results, better items, or just make your enemies stronger. Or even hurts your units, which means you’ll start combat with less health. You can only choose once and that’s it.
The more places you explore. The more you alert the Necrons and you’ll encounter more enemy units or stronger enemy units overall. For me personally I can never resist the call of exploring every single nook and cranny and see every single secrets and items. Harder combat be damned.
Once you finally reached the combat area. You start like any other typical strategy game. you can choose on where to place your starting Magos (You can place servitors in the next rounds, But they cost CP. we’ll talk about that more later on). The options are straightforward. move, attack with weapons, use augment tools and so on. And you’ll be presented with an objective.
The combat itself is pretty different from your standard turn-based tactics. Instead of the typical regenerating action points. You get Cognition Points or CP. Which you use for almost everything, you can attack twice if you have enough CP, spawning Servitors cost CP, or moving farther than you could (Extra movement). Some weapons also have different CP costs. Making it a sort of a resource management mid-combat. It is generally not a good idea to equip your Magos with the best weapons as they all cost high CP and you’ll find yourself wasting turns because you don’t have enough to attack. But if you only equip weaker no-CP/ 1 CP cost weapons. you’ll essentially have bigger problems against strong enemies.
CP management is probably the biggest problem, And i find myself out of CP way too often.
You can get CP from variety of ways, like finding a glowing pillars or killing an enemy, or watching your servitors takes damage. And many other ways. You can also send your servo-skull tool to collect CP from further pillars. Keep in mind that many tools have cooldown and you can’t just send them each turn.
You’d be wise to conserve and position your units properly so you dont waste a turn without CP.
Enemies always start with unknown health, The only way to find out is by using special weapons that can “scan” them, or Send your Servo-Skull to scan. Would you risk fighting blind or waste that cooldown? it’s all adding to the strategic decisions you have to make.
The difficulty weirdly ranges from “What the hell are they thinking naming this Easy” to “Screw tactics, go guns blazing and still wins”. The game really shines in the first couple missions when you have literally just simple units with nothing much (Aka when it’s still extremely hard).
Once you upgraded some of the good disciplines and get some crazy powerful equipments. Your Priests will pretty much turn into the freaking Terminator. Mowing down enemies easily. Thankfully You can also turn on iron-man Mode and Permadeath just in case you’re that much of a hardcore person. Or just requires more challenge later on.
And finally… I feel like this deserves a special mention. The lore and the dialogues are excellent. I don’t know much about the W40K universe but I’m still very much in awe at how well-written the stories are. Especially the banter between the Priests, One of them are very into science and knowledge that he only speaks in equation terms, calculating cold-hard logic. Another is a religious fanatic and thinks that all Xenos technologies should be purged instead. (There are actually option to chase away poison gas with the power of prayer. And it actually works. Go figure). With the middle man in between the two. It was hilarious and very entertaining, I sometimes find myself looking forward to the next dialogues instead of the next battle.
I would say that Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is an excellent game, You don’t have to be a W40K fan to get into this game. And i’m sure the fans will feel right at home.
Big thanks to :
Bulwark Studios (https://www.facebook.com/BulwarkStudios),
and Kalypso Media (https://www.facebook.com/KalypsoMedia)