REVIEW – Space guards, chaos, various weapons, butchery. Everything that Warhammer 40000 is famous for in a pixelated but surprisingly enjoyable FPS game.
Guilty pleasure, guilty pleasure. It was like an inquisitor was pounding in my head. That was the first thing that came to mind when I got into butchering in Boltgun. As the intro with pixelated, minimal animation started and the words of the inquisitor explaining the details of our mission appeared word by word at the bottom of the screen, the classic games of old times came to life in my mind’s eye. The times when story and twists mattered more than graphical solutions that were quite limited by technical limitations. In addition, when the introduction brought up the weapon called the Psychic Whip from the classic WH40K: Space Marine third-person shooter and its creator, Inquisitor Drogan, I already knew it was love at first sight, because I confess I love good crossovers.
Before we begin the description of the game, as an introduction, it is worth saying a few words about the iconic weapon of the grimdark world of Warhammer 40,000, the boltgun, also known as the bolter. According to the background story, the 19-millimeter (0.75 inch) gun with a name that is difficult to translate into Hungarian fires rocket-propelled projectiles. Somewhat contradicts our physical knowledge is the fact that according to the descriptions, its recoil is so great that not an average person, only the superhuman two and a half meter tall space guards can handle it. In addition, as the background world of 40K developed, the bolt rifle, auto boltgun, bolt carbine, stalker bolt rifle and others appeared in addition to the standard bolter. As a military historian 40K fan with a small arms obsession, I will NOT undertake the exact Hungarian names of the latter.
Return to Graia
Returning to Boltgun, the game takes us back to the forge world of Graia known in the above-mentioned Space Marine, where the Inquisition sends one of the elite units of the Ultraguardian order, one of the five-man Sternguard swarm recruited from the best marksmen of the veteran first century. Unfortunately, the landing turns into an impact for an unknown reason, and everyone in the landing unit dies except for us. Just this somewhat simple and transparent solution explains why we must go it alone to clean up the chaos-infested areas. Our loyal companion for a long time, the titular boltgun, will be our only weapon. Our first opponents are the chaos-mongering cultists, and the most famous weapon in the 40k universe finally lives up to its reputation here. One shot, one kill. It’s true that the pixels make it a little harder to aim, but the mollusk cultists fell as they should, even on hard difficulty. Because, of course, I wasn’t brave enough to set it to “Exterminatus”, which promised the ultimate experience. However, even masochism has its limits. After a missed jump on the metal structures hanging over the depth of the first course, I managed to throw myself into the depth several times and was able to start the course all over again.
Control and graphics
Control also comes to mind. In addition to the classic WASD, in Boltgun there is no “peeking out” with QE, or lying down (crouch), and even “retracting the weapon” on right click. On the other hand, there is sprinting with SHIFT and jumping over obstacles with SPACE. Well, the combination of the two puts a noob FPS player like me in countless unpleasant situations, apart from crashes. An excellent atmospheric element is that when pressing V, our character colors the game with one or two appropriate quotes, and even if we do nothing for a while, he pulls out the Adeptus Astartes codex and starts flipping through the pages. Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t press V in the case of a reflex tactical magazine exchange after longer bursts (instead of the R button), and my space guard thus thanked the God Emperor with an empty weapon in his hand, or cursed the chaos creatures attacking him with his last words, instead of shooting them. So the controls are classic.
As I said, the graphics are pixelated, but after the initial difficulties, you get your eyes on it and enjoy the bloody butchery running at a stable FPS without stuttering or stuttering. The creators took the latter so seriously that in several cases I managed to shoot or kick away pieces of blown up or slaughtered opponents. Our only melee weapon, the chainsword held in the left hand for some reason, isn’t really effective against bigger opponents, but it’s extremely spectacular when we thrash them with it. Meanwhile, the others are grinding us from the side and behind. So Boltgun absolutely brings the feeling of DOOM, Quake and their contemporaries. For this reason, it was called a boomer shooter, which I feel is a bit insulting as a Gen Xer.
Blood, weapons, butchery – Coke, rifle, french fries 40000 ways
Back to the gameplay, shooting at longer distances is a bit difficult due to the graphics, although the bolter (and later weapons) are not sniper rifles either. However, we will need to shoot further away, because as more and more powerful enemies appear, it becomes more and more dangerous to let them get close. And in the game, thanks to the basic graphics, our chaotic opponents come in a huge variety. In addition to the multi-geared cultist (orange plasma gun is deadly!), he finally pays homage to several Chaos Gods in one game. In Space Marine, we met the followers of Khorne, now Tzeentch, the lord of changes, and the creatures of the classic opponent, the pestilence god Nurgle, complicate our work. In addition to the well-known Flamers with flamethrowers from the field table, the pink horrors disintegrating into the two smaller blue monsters, the epidemic toads, the small, jumping and annoying nurglings also appear. Oh, and I didn’t even mention the Chaos Space Rangers and their heavily armored Terminator versions. And speaking of field table parallels. In addition to the vitality marked with the apothecary’s sign, the red winged helix, the “armor of contempt” known from the figure game, which is the Boltgun equivalent of the armor of contempt, is at least as important. We can take this in the form of small shields.
Of course, the weapon arsenal is the crux of such a game. Well, the creators of the game don’t have to be ashamed here either. The basic bolter will soon be joined by the shotgun, which knows exactly what a similar weapon should know. After the plasma gun in the second arena, the more exotic and brutal tools slowly arrive as we progress through the levels. The grenade launcher (vengeance launcher) is familiar from the much-talked-about Space Marine, the classic meltagun (Meltagun), and next to the heavy bolter there are relatively new weapons such as the gravity cannon (grav cannon) or the laser launcher of the Volkite Caliver.
The soul of the game is wandering and fighting on the labyrinth-like tracks, where we can find not only keys that are essential for further progress, but also secrets. On tracks that take advantage of all the advantages of 3 dimensions, you can rush to your heart’s content, and even sprint away from most dangerous situations, so that you can climb up a staircase, throw grenades from above, and thin out the horde of demons chasing them from a safe distance. We will especially need this in the arenas at the end of the tracks, where selected opponents await us. So nothing really new, just the proven recipe, but tuned to the maximum! Too bad you can only play alone.
+ WH40k feeling maxed out
+ Nostalgia factor in the skies
+ Crash-free stable gameplay
– Single player
– Graphics, although good, are often confusing
– A bit repetitive after a while
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Developer: Auroch Digital
Style: First Person Shooter
Release: May 23, 2023.