Everything slows down. There's a crack, a judder of armour, and the bullet flies out of my bolter. It finds its mark right between the eyes of a treacherous Chaos Marine, whose skull splits into multiple gory pieces.

This is Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf's piece-de-resistance, a bloody exclamation mark that emphasises the grim violence of the universe that the game is built around.

It's a wince-worthy moment, but it's usually one that's well earned. This is a tough, tactical card-battler that refuses to pull any punches.

In a strange way, the turn-based battles and hefty odds make this feel like the truest representation of Games Workshop's awful fictional future that we've seen on the App Store. And that's no bad thing.

Wolf guns

The game sees you taking command of a squad of Space Marines from the Space Wolves chapter. Stranded on a Chaos-infested planet, you set out on a number of sorties to clear out the bad guys.

These scraps take the shape of turn-based card duels. Each turn you get a set number of action points to spend on using cards in your hand. Most of your deck is made up of weapons, but you can use these to move around as well.

There's a neat system of card-weighting too. The more effort you expend, the longer it'll take you to have your next turn. Clever use of this mechanic lets you quit a unit's go half way through, then jump straight back into another turn with them.

On top of all that there's the usual card-battler style evolution and combination of cards that lets you beef up your deck if you get duplicates.

Gun it

The missions themselves are quick to punish you if you make a mistake, or if you're not tough enough to take on the challenges they throw at you. You need to think carefully about each move and figure out how to use the cover the stage offers to your advantage.

After every move you get to pick which way your Space Marine should face. Making sure you're not exposing your weaker flanks and rear to attack is just as important as lining up your next shot.

The free to play system on show here isn't too debilitating. There are some cooldowns when your marines die, and if you want the best cards quickly you're going to have to pay, but there's a lot here to get on with without spending a thing.

It's certainly not for the casual player though. Missions can take an hour or so to complete, and if you go charging in all guns blazing you'll be dead in no time flat. You need to pick your battles, and retreat if it looks like you're going to be overwhelmed.

Dead second

As well as being tough, Space Wolf looks great. The crunching blows and squelchy explosions capture the darkness of the far future perfectly, and the character and weapon models are likely to bring a smile out in anyone with a fondness for Games Workshop's lore.

You could argue that the game is a little too complex, that sometimes it's a bit vague when explaining its mechanics, but for some that's going to be half the fun.

If you like your marines space-bound and your guns filled with bolts, then you'll find something to like here.