Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus
I have read descriptions of Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus (Mechanicus) as being a cross between Warhammer 40K and XCOM. The short version? Sure, close enough. The long version? Not at all.
At the base level, Mechanicus is a unit-turn-based RPG set in the Warhammer 40K universe following the Adeptus Mechanicus branch of the Imperium of Mankind. This already sets it apart from the dozens of its licensed peers, who typically follow the overdone Space Marines. I am a general fan of the Warhammer 40K setting, so the implicit lore taking place (and overwrought dialog) were pure bonuses. If you are not similarly inclined, or find the glorification of Imperium problematic, then you may want to sit this one out.
The reason I say this is because the gameplay is rather simplistic. When I think XCOM, I think about cover and missing 95% accuracy shots seven times in a row. In Mechanicus, there is no cover and no accuracy – if you are within range and have Line of Sight, you hit your target. The combat wrinkle is Cognition (Cog): a persistent, spendable team-wide resource needed to fire larger guns and utilize abilities. In the beginning, your primary source of Cog is from the expendable Servitor redshirts you bring along with you to soak up enemy fire. Deploying Servitors costs 1 Cog, but they grant 1 Cog each time they take damage. Enemies that are downed also grant 1 Cog if a Tech-Priest is nearby to extract it. Aside from that, there are usually several structures around the battlefield that grant 1-3 Cog per turn if a Tech-Priest walks nearby, or if they send their Servo-Skulls (drones on a cooldown) to go collect it.
There are technically other tactical considerations. Ranged weapons cannot be used when in melee range, and there is an Attack of Opportunity when you move out of a threatened square. Units can block each others’ Line of Sight. Necron units will come back to life after a few turns unless you spend time attacking their downed forms. There is an Armor system of sorts that reduces the damage from either Physical or Energy attacks by a flat amount. Necron unit HP/Armor is unknown unless they are scanned by Servo-Skulls or attacked with specific weapons that indicate that said info is captured. Spending time to Scan computer consoles will award you more “Blackstone,” which is an upgrade currency for your Tech-Priests.
But honestly? Heading into the mid-game none of that really matters. Once you have figured out a combination of abilities to keep your team loaded with Cog, you can just blast every enemy out of existence with relative impunity. Indeed, it gets amusing once a character or two unlocks the “Immune to Attacks of Opportunity” skill, as it allows you to freely traverse the map. See, your units can move X spaces normally, but they can spend 1 Cog to extend that range another X spaces. And another, and another, as long as you have Cog to spare. Which means one Tech-Priest can run around the map collecting all the Cog from structures as he goes, scanning all the consoles, and then end up where he started with a full Cog gauge, depending on abilities.
One such ability? Fill your entire Cognition gauge, on a 5-turn cooldown.
Outside of combat, you are basically playing a Visual Novel with a series of frustratingly Blind Choices. Decide which icon room to enter next, decide which of three choices to pick, and then act surprised when they are terrible outcomes. Within each mission there is an Awakening Meter that increases for each room you enter, increases per turn of combat, and also depending on the Blind Choices you make. As the meter fills, more Necrons join the fight and otherwise things go more badly for you. Once you successfully complete a mission, the Awakening Meter gets added to your overall Awakening Meter (e.g. 3 Awakening = +3%), which leads to a Game Over at 100% if you haven’t unlocked the final boss yet. There are usually a few ways to reduce the Awakening Meter within a mission, but it’s otherwise a race against time and actively discourages you from exploration. Which is necessary, because your units get god-like pretty quickly if left to their own devices.
Overall, I did have a good time to the tune of 20 hours. Then I played another 8 hours in order to finish the game, which was pure slog. If you picked up Mechanicus as part of a bundle and you can tolerate the Warhammer 40K setting even a little bit, it is worth installing and giving it a whirl. But if your interest starts to wane, go ahead and drop it within guilt. The game stays exactly the same the whole way through, and nothing about the final battle or ending moves the needle.
Posted on February 6, 2023, in Review and tagged Adeptus Mechanicus, RPG, Tactics, Turn-Based, Warhammer 40k, XCOM. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus.