Published on May 24th, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun Review @AurochDigital @Focus_entmt @Warhammer

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun Review @AurochDigital @Focus_entmt @Warhammer Gareth Newnham

Summary: Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is an absolute treat for fans of the grim, dark future of the 41st Millennium and a superb shooter in its own right.


Incarnation of destruction

Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is one of those games with a concept so obvious you wonder why it hadn’t been made decades ago – like say, the mid-90s. 

The setup is simple yet effective – Boltgun is a long lost Doom-clone based on the world of Warhammer 40K, and that’s it.

When I say Doom clone I’m not just talking about gunning down hordes of enemies with a selection of powerful weapons, but the premise is also far too similar to be a coincidence. As a Space Marine of the Ultramarines chapter the Imperial Inquisition tasks you to aid in an investigation into a forge world they suspect has been lost to the powers of the daemonic powers of chaos after a group of tech priests (read scientists from Mars) started carrying out some dangerous and illegal experiments to harness the power of the warp (where all the demons live, aka Hell). 


But how will you push back the daemonic hordes of chaos? By pulling the trigger on your iconic Boltgun; the standard weapon of a Space Marine that strikes fear into the foes of the Imperium, and with good reason; it’s a gun capable of reducing every heretic, daemon, and Xenos it’s fired at into a fine red mist in seconds, and Boltgun (the game) doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

It’s gratuitously gory and violent in just the right way. You’ll storm into a room, open fire on a group of crazed cultists and then charge headlong into the demonic hordes with your Chansword whirring as viscera and gibs fly absolutely everywhere in a glorious ballet of indignation as you praise the emperor in all his glory. 

The presentation is spot on, and using some clever tricks recreates the look and feel of FPS from the era it apes perfectly. The core gameplay is fun frantic and an absolute blast. Culling the Chaos ranks never fails to be satisfying, and battling Greater Demons like the Nurgles Great Unclean One, and Tzeentch’s Lord of Change is as challenging as you would expect.

In times like this, the other fantastic array of weapons from the 40k universe come in handy, including the Heavy Bolter, Plasma Gun (that even overheats if you fire it too regularly, although thankfully it doesn’t explode) and my personal favourite, the Meltagun that fires a wave of extreme heat at foes, obliterating anything in its path.

Fans of 40k will be in for a real treat too as it’s clear Boltgun was a real labour of love for all involved. It’s the little flourishes that really made me smile; like weapons and enemies have strength and toughness stats, and just like 40k, a gun with a higher strength does more damage against something with a lower toughness and vice versa. The cut scenes are also era-appropriate and use the same pixelated art style as Warhammer video game adaptations from the early to mid-90s including the original Space Hulk, and Shadow of The Horned Rat.

There’s also a button specifically for praising the Emperor and telling the heretic scum exactly what you think of them before you carve them in half with your Chainsword. 

Oh, and your armour is literally contempt – although I like to think it’s 250 purity seals nailed onto every spare inch of your armour. Also, I do not want to ruin it, but I recommend you put your controller down for a couple of minutes when a room is clear – the idle animation is just *Chef’s kiss* The Cactuses in the Desert level will also be incredibly familiar to anyone who played 2nd ed 40K back in the day. 

Most importantly though Boltgun does an absolutely superb job of making you feel like a space marine, a hulking angel of death encased in several tons of armour with access to some of the most devastating weaponry available to man. Capable of ungodly levels of violence.

Not since Space Marine has a game captured how powerful these guys are supposed to be compared to the average grunt, and the sheer brutality of their methods.

The only niggle I have is that it doesn’t have a map function (at least I couldn’t find it) This thanks to the low poly textures and maze-like level design resulted in me getting lost on several occasions. You can call it period appropriate since it’s essentially a Doom clone down to hunting for keys to push forward, I call it a pain in the arse.

On the flip side though it did find a lot more secret powerups which, made later battles easier, and every stage has at least half a dozen 40k-themed versions of quad damage, infinite ammo, and beefed-up rounds for your bolter that make it do more damage, or shoot through cover. The best-hidden power-ups though are the machine spirits that permanently whatever weapon you have equipped for the rest of the level. 

Minor niggles aside, Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun is a game that both fans of Doom clones (I refuse to call them boomer shooters) and 40k will absolutely adore. It’s a pitch-perfect adaptation, with a clear, near-encyclopedic understanding of the source material, which achieves something very few 40k adaptations manage, it captures the satirical tone of the setting perfectly. It’s also a marvellous fake time capsule that if I didn’t know better could swear was actually an obscure MS-DOS game from 1995. If you always wondered what Doom would have been like if it starred the original Space Marines, well Boltgun is the game for you.  

The main thing I tend to think about when reviewing a game is whether it achieves what it sets out to do, and Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun does on every single front – The Emperor be praised. 

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