I don’t think the Hitman series really clicked for me until I played Hitman 2. I really enjoyed Blood Money, and I really enjoyed what I played of the 2016 Hitman, but they were both one-and-done games for me — I gave Hitman’s Paris level a few replays, but otherwise I just completed all of the levels in order and then called it a day. Which is a bit of an odd thing to say about a game because that’s how they’re usually supposed to be played, but Hitman is a series that rewards replaying individual levels again and again to find alternate routes, assassination methods and background information about the people you’re assassinating. Playing through the levels just once meant that I arguably was doing it wrong, but for whatever reason I never really felt much of an impetus to do it right — until Hitman 2.
And so we go from a terrible Warhammer 40k video game to a really quite good one, and one which I wasn’t expecting to like anywhere near this much. Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus is a tactical squad-based strategy game somewhat in the vein of XCOM that stars the Adeptus Mechanicus and their tech-priests as they raid a Necron tomb world for technological secrets. Right off the bat I’m inclined to think favourably of Mechanicus because it’s eschewed taking the obvious route of making an XCOM-alike featuring Space Marines and instead chooses to focus on two of the 40k universe’s lesser-known factions, which is an extremely smart move because there’s something like fifteen different factions in 40k but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of Warhammer video games that don’t have you either playing as the Space Marines or as a force that includes them1. This allows developers Bulwark Studios to create something that feels very fresh when compared to the 40k adaptations I’m used to, not only in terms of atmosphere but also in terms of the amount of mechanical tinkering they do to make the squad-based gameplay something that’s appropriate to the Mechanicus and their Necron opponents.
Me, in 2013: “Man, Games Workshop have all of these awesome licenses lying around for boardgames that they no longer make. They should give some of them to game developers so that they can make digital adaptions. Like Space Hulk. A Space Hulk video game would be very good.”
Me, in 2018: “Please stop making Space Hulk video games.”
Cold Waters is a game that certainly seems to know its audience. In the little headline box underneath the game logo on its Steam page, right where most other games would put a quick, attention-grabbing summary of what their game is about and why you should read further, developers Killerfish have instead written this, and only this:
Spiritual Successor to the Microprose Classic “Red Storm Rising”.