The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth
The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth is a small squad-based strategy game based at the start of the heresy. This game is based off of the board game, but with a couple differences and some fixes to issues that the board game had (such as taking nothing but bolters because they were god). However it has a few issues of its own, and leans a bit hard on a VR angle that I found to be, overall, unnecessary. I will go through some of the great things I’ve found and a few of the spots they will hopefully address before release.
Starting with some of the negatives, I found the camera angle to be quite cumbersome and annoying to use. A top-down view is used by most RTS games for a good reason. Why try and reinvent the wheel now? The camera issue is only exacerbated by the amount of clipping issues you will find while ghostly floating among your soldiers at supersonic speeds. Secondly, the music. It just loops the same repetitive track over and over. I had to turn the music off while playing so I could actually make it through. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed in the full release. Another item I hope to see touched up before official release is an AI difficulty level. Currently, all the AI is set to is the intelligence of an orc, and is fairly easy to run circles around. Player vs Player is promising for an intense tactical battle, but that feature was unavailable at the time of testing.
But away from the negatives. Let’s look at some of the things that make this game more than playable. Now, yes, this game has some issues, but I rather enjoyed my little foray. The story was fun to play though and didn’t feel repetitive, an issue a lot of smaller strategy games suffer from. Also, as a fan of 40k, I was able to jump right into the story and feel like I was a part of the action. The only slight downside to this is the lack of a prelude that explains the universe to non-40k fans, or just people who know about the 41st millennium and are unaware of the heresy. I was able to pick up the game pretty quick, though, with a clear and simple tutorial. Now, on to the meat and potatoes.
Getting into the game, I found the models decent on high detail. Everything was nice and clear with easily understood statistics on actions in the game, such as accuracy or the chance for special effects on weapons. Even though the AI didn’t come off as incredibly competent, I was able to see the diversity of tactics available and had fun employing them. The special weapons in the game all felt very unique, and each one had a different role to play. I found myself building armies with different tactics based around the special weapons available to be chosen. The army-building was actually quite fun, with a nice balance of stuff I wanted to take, but not getting to fit all of them into a list. The hope for this game is the developers add some more units to it such as dreadnaughts or jump infantry. A change like that will really give some flavor since, right now, you are stuck with legionaries, sergeants, and terminators.
All in all, this game is promising. With some more work by the developers and some additions to the in-game options, this is poised to be a neat little tactical strategy game. The attempt to duplicate the board game was pulled off nicely without this game feeling too clunky or boring, and utilizing technology to streamline, then add, to the user experience.
GennyB is a game reviewer for AYBOnline Inc, currently stretched thinner than shrinkwrap.