Obtuse, clunky and cultish could be the manifesto of the Warhammer 40,000 universe’s Imperium Of Man. And the very same terms could be ascribed to this conversion of turn-based boardgame Space Hulk. It’s an Aliens pastiche: small squads of Games Workshop’s Space Marines attempt to complete objectives in a warren of tight corridors while harassed by Xenomorph-alikes. Singleplayer focuses exclusively on the exploits of the Marines, while multiplayer – live or asynchronous – recycles the scenarios but gives one player control of the razor-clawed aliens.
The troubles begin with the interface, which has borrowed the look of 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but too little of its clarity. Possible actions – shoot, overwatch, guard – are denoted by tiny icons, and holding a finger over them merely reminds you of their name, not tactical function. They’re overlaid on the grim darkness of the hulk itself, which adds eye-straining murk to often dull levels. The detailed character models are faithful to GW’s miniatures, but animations are frequently low quality.
Worse, for a game driven by dice and a detailed ruleset, both are hidden away, with roll results relegated to a tiny box. This obfuscates the game’s element of luck, making events feel more random than they ought to. Bugs and crashes only add to the frustrations. Board game fans might be able to overlook these sins to find the deep game within, but developers Full Control has done too little to evangelise the cult of Space Hulk.
Space Hulk is out now on iPad.