Space Hulk - A ramshackle port

The odds aren't favouring Squad Lorenzo on this mission, and every one of that 5-man band of brothers knows that survival is improbable.

Deep in the heart of enemy territory, only one Brother - Zael - has the heavy flamer ability that's so crucial to the operation at hand. If he dies now, the control room cannot be destroyed and the squad's efforts are in vain.

All for one

It all starts well. Zael is protected at either side by Brothers Noctis and Deino, for whom prioritising the mission over their own lives has become routine.

Leading the way are Sergeant Lorenzo and Brother Goriel, who meet surprisingly little resistance along the way.

But it can't last long. Suddenly they're everywhere, flooding in from all sides. Noctis staves off the first attack to buy Zael time, but can't survive the second. The dam breaks, Goriel and Deino also succumb to the hordes.

Now just Zael and his sergeant remain, unbearably close to their objective. Sgt. Lorenzo holds up the rear, running his sword through two genestealers who attempt to get by, while Zael separates himself from his pursuers with a burst of flame in the passageway.

Somehow, despite losing two brothers, they've pulled it off. Victory.

This must be why so many people love Space Hulk, and I'm beginning to feel it too.

One for all

This took a while, though. Essentially a Vita version of the cult classic Games Workshop boardgame, this Space Hulk outing finds itself in an odd place.

Neither the tabletop the original game was designed for, nor the iPad to which a digital adaptation is obviously better suited, it should be obvious that Vita is far from the optimum way to experience Space Hulk.

Indeed, the first thing you'll notice is that the developer has chosen to ignore the awkward inconvenience of the Vita being, y'know, quite a fundamentally different system, by simply presenting the game like it's on a tablet.

The tiny on-screen text betrays the fact it's meant to be displayed on a much larger screen, and menus are controlled by touch only.

And sure, the Vita's touchscreen is serviceable enough to support a wholesale rip of an iPad interface, but if "it technically works" is the best argument in your favour then it's time for a rethink.

Hemmed in

In an example of interfacial-thematic unity that's either a stroke of profound genius or odd coincidence - you can be the judge of which is more likely - both the port and the game itself feel extremely claustrophobic.

Everything's dull, dark and narrow aboard the titular Space Hulk. Your hefty, massive-shouldered men, all kitted out like futuristic American football players, can barely turn in a corridor without scraping against it.

The campaign, which is the main meat of the game, is a series of loosely-connected missions in which you direct these clanking great lummoxes around the Space Hulk to complete certain objectives and slay many hideous, squelchy monster types called Genestealers.

And there's a lot to like here. Playing like a version of XCOM that's set in a shoebox, set to half-speed and had all the lights turned off, there is a genuine tension when you see the blips on the map that indicate the presence of Genestealers that no doubt outnumber and surround you.

Different units have their own weapons and abilities, while shrewd economy of Action Points and use of defensive skills such as Overwatch and Guard is the only way to survive.

Battlefield controls are also far more tailored to the Vita's strengths, offering button control, touch, or a combination of inputs to give orders.


The missions are long, too - about an average of 45 minutes in my experience - and can be saved midway through.

This gives each a genuine arc and narrative to each, with stories like the one at the top of this review coming thick and fast.

There's always a discernible point at which you can feel the balance of power shifting, as hunted becomes hunter, which makes for some incredibly satisfying punch-the-air moments.

However, it's still not dynamic enough to win over anyone for whom the plodding satisfaction of a drawn-out battle sounds unexciting, and on Vita it's a shrunken port that suffers from terrible load times and a stuttering framerate.

Although, if you can't get your hands on another version, there is certainly some entertainment that can be extracted from this one - just make sure you know what you're getting yourself in for.

Space Hulk - A ramshackle port

Some great moments can be salvaged here, despite the ramshackle port
Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.