We’ve been excited to play Space Hulk since Games Workshop announced that Full Control was bringing the classic board game to iOS. So naturally we made a bee-line to Full Control’s booth at GDC to get a first-hand look at the game in action.
Space Hulk puts you in the giant armored boots of Space Marine Terminators. You control a squad of marines by telling each member where to go and what to shoot. Each soldier has a set number of action points to spend per turn, so you can have them move a certain number of squares, and/or engage an enemy with weapons like guns, grenades, and flamethrowers.
Your enemies are Genestealers, a race of ruthless, bloodthirsty aliens. The game takes place in the tight corridors of an abandoned spaceship, which is probably the last place you’d want to find yourself stuck with highly evolved killers.
At the start of the level we played, our team hadn’t yet encountered the aliens. As we crept through the dark hallways of the ship, we could switch to an overhead view of the environment and see blue blips moving toward us in far-off areas. These were the enemy, preparing their attack. But a single blip doesn’t necessarily indicate a single enemy. Genestealers are able to conceal their numbers, so you never really know what kind of threat is hiding behind a door or around a corner.
The game is turn-based, so once the fighting begins you can take your time to assess the situation and move your troops tactically on the grid. It’s like a high-caliber, intense game of chess, with marines firing off rounds, retreating behind corners, guns jamming, and aliens lunging at you. When the action happens, the game switches to a cinematic camera mode that looks fantastic.
But it’s no walk in the park. There won’t be an easy mode in the game, just a “less hard” mode. For the most part, you’re going to want to find a way to accomplish the goal in each of the 12 campaign missions as quickly as possible so you don’t get overrun by Genestealers.
We asked if there was any connection between this game and the 1993 PC game by Electronic Arts. There is not. This version of Space Hulk is based directly on the board game. In fact, Full Control has weekly calls with Games Workshop to discuss their progress, and each piece of art and audio must be approved before it can be included in the game.
Full Control is no stranger to developing strategy games on iOS. They’ve already made titles like Tactical Soldier and Frontline Tactics. The PC version of Space Hulk will come with a level editor, so players can create and share their own maps. iPad gamers will be able to play on user-created maps, but it’s still up in the air whether the iPad version will include creation tools. Space Hulk will also have local multiplayer, as well as cross-platform online co-op and versus modes. In other words, it will be a full, big gaming experience no matter what platform you play it on.
So far, Space Hulk is only up and running on PC, but they’re using the Unity engine, so they assured us it won’t require much work to bring it over to iOS. It should release either simultaneously on PC and iPad, or with a slight delay in between. When asked if it’s also coming to iPhone, they said they’re interested in trying, but not sure they’ll be able to fit all of the controls on the smaller screen.
Space Hulk is scheduled to hit the App Store this fall.