GAME REVIEW: SPACE HULK ASCENSION EDITION – SALAMANDERS DLC / DEVELOPER: FULL CONTROL STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: FULL CONTROL / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In the latest addition to Space Hulk: Ascension, the scions of Vulkan have joined their fellow chapters raiding lost derelicts. Serving as the tactical opposite of the Imperial Fist DLC, the style of this new chapter favours a far more offensive approach.
The Salamanders’ advantages lie with their flamethrowers, with the option to take two heavy weapons Terminators per squad, a variant of the weapon unique to them, and a Fire Resistant trait. This balance of traits allows players to cut off the approach of Genestealer swarms far more effectively while still rapidly advancing forwards. With every faction sans the Space Wolves emphasising gradual advances and caution, this offers far more variety to the game and an angle which will appeal to far more aggressive players. While seemingly easy, there is still skill to be found in achieving and keeping up the momentum of a continual assault. Furthermore, their key advantage stems primarily from very limited ammunition, so players will still need to be keenly aware of when to take risks or not.
However, what is even more interesting than their unique traits is the chapter’s campaign, Ashes to Ashes. Many previous campaigns involved relatively static environments, with the main challenge stemming from sealing off choke points and deployment areas for the Genestealers. Here however, several environments are treated far more as puzzles, with rapidly shifting elements. With some maps risking flooding with lava or faulty doors and rotating bridges opening ways for Genestealers to attack the squad, units will need to be constantly on their toes or risk being blindsided.
Unfortunately, while these ideas remain good throughout, the game still retains a fair few technical issues. The frame rate issue previously fixed in past patches is now back in full force, leading to very a very choppy visual experience. Similar performance issues are evident throughout the game, and it often slows down upon trying to manage large numbers of units. Atop of this, the idea of the Salamanders being famed artificers is only barely touched upon when there was so much more which could be done with it.
While on a technical level, Space Hulk remains rough around the edges and offers little beyond the direct battles, for some that’s all that’s needed. It’s competently made, tactically engaging and while it doesn’t excel, this latest DLC definitely adds some substantial value to the game. Fans of the grim, dark far future would do well to grab this one now.