27th Nov2014

‘Space Hulk: Ascension Edition’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf


I’ve never really managed to play Space Hulk games, but I do know of them. I remember seeing the Games Workshop board games and liking the art work, even considered playing some of the games but I never got round to it. On the PC and consoles though, there are easier options to take a step into the world, which is what I decided to do with Space Hulk: Ascension Edition.

Straight from the get go as a turn-based strategy game there is a difference between this and what you see on a board game, but it is made clear that the changes made are built upon the board game experience, which is good for the fans if true. For my experience, it took a while to get into the game, especially with the darkness of the world map, though there are clues as to where the enemy are going to attack from. There is a pretty sharp learning curve, but as I pushed deeper into the gameplay and the user interface, things did start to get easier (but not much).

The developers Full Control Studios obviously know that for first time users like myself (and also hardcore fans of Space Hulk games) the interface takes some learning, but after a while it is intuitive enough to pick up, though takes some time to master. The importance of noticing the small things such as the direction your Terminators are pointing is important, especially when the Genestealers move in for the attack. Although the game takes an isometric viewpoint, it’s also interesting that a small screen also gives the first-person view for the selected player, adding more to the atmosphere of the game. This is especially the case when a Genestealer is right in front of you.

Another added aspect to the game is the roleplaying elements that lead to levelling up your squads and unlocking more advanced weaponry. This is important as the enemy grow in force and complexity, and even on the easiest setting you find that the game is very unforgiving of mistakes and death can come instantly. Even in successful missions death is just something that has to be accepted, and with little connection to your troops it is just a case of throwing fighters into the dark corridors of the ghost ship like vessels and hoping for the best.

There is plenty of content for the game with over a hundred missions that are spread out over three campaigns. This isn’t a game for people looking for deep engrossing narrative though, text descriptions of the missions are provided and this is all you are given. Space Hulk: Ascension Edition is really all about the combat and strategy, though you can choose different chapters (Space Wolves, Blood Angels and Ultramarines). For people who aren’t really experienced in the Space Hulk lore (for example me) these chapters have little difference but for certain styles and weaponry.

Space Hulk: Ascension Edition is a game that takes place in near darkness and isn’t easy, but if you give it your time the tension that the strategic missions create does pull you in, though the ease of death can at times be annoying. There is a certain appeal to coming back to the game though, no matter how many times you fail, and this is even the case for a newcomer like me. It’s hard to say this is a truly authentic Space Hulk experience for the hardcore fan, because I’m nowhere near that but it is a fairly strong turn based strategy game full of atmosphere for people who like fighting off aliens using big guns and huge swords. Just don’t expect it to be an easy experience.

**** 4/5

Space Hulk: Ascension Edition is available now for Windows, Mac and Linux on Steam.

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