Necromunda: Hired Gun Review – DOOM Eternal But Even Insaner
Developed by Streum On Studio
Published by Focus Home Interactive
Available on PS4, PS5, X1, XSX, and PC
I first assumed Necromunda: Hired Gun was a poor man’s DOOM Eternal. I now see that DOOM Eternal is a poor man’s Necromunda: Hired Gun. The combat is beyond anything I’ve played in a triple A shooter game, even though it sticks to the same basic ideas. I might even argue that Necromunda: Hired Gun is the spiritual successor to Streum On Studios’ other great franchise, E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy. Both games place you in the role of a cybernetic monster freak with physics defying abilities mowing down incalculable amounts of enemies tens of thousands of years into a harrowingly grim and dark future. They are also both fundamentally bad. And both incredibly fun.
It’s a simple premise. You’re a guy with a gun in Warhammer: 40k in Necromunda, an incomprehensibly big city. You shoot to get money to buy guns to shoot etc. There’s no plot worth describing .I don’t even know if I remember what the plot is, other than the protagonist is mad and wants money. Thankfully, the cutscenes and dialogue are easily skippable, meaning you can get back into the rest of Necromunda: Hired Gun.
The setting itself is a better storyteller than most Warhammer 40k games. Necromunda: Hired Gun takes place in the incomprehensibly huge city of Necromunda. With a population in the billions, the city is a superstructure composed of overlapping industrial ruins, factories, cathedrals, and sometimes all three combined. I love that the setting is moving from the Space Marines to the rest of the 40k setting, because it’s 40,000 times more interesting than big guys in armor talking about the biggest guy in the biggest golden armor.
Much of the gameplay in Necromunda: Hired Gun is about exploring the city, surprisingly. The levels are fairly linear, but at the same time, massive and open, with sharp twists and turns and enormous verticality. The environments you traverse are both impressive and atmospheric, as well as a lot of fun to jump around in. And of course, shoot guns in.
It’s not even hyperbole to suggest Necromundaguy could kill Kratos with ease. Even before your character becomes a cyborg abomination he’s got the ability of the characters from Titanfall 2. After you get access to upgrades, you become more powerful than probably any character in a Warhammer 40k game ever has before, even more than Space Marines, possibly even more than the chaos gods or the Emperor as well.
Not only does Necromunda: Hired Gun give you a wall run, dash, slide, grappling hook, and an incredible double jump (shout out to Streum On and the cyberlegs), you also have a Bloodborne style health regeneration system. After taking damage you can gain back health by dealing damage, and since Necromunda: Hired Gun is a game about always shooting, they had to make the enemies pretty powerful if you were ever to be in danger of dying.
The combat is insane. So much so that I had to turn down the graphical quality not just for performance (which is alright at best) but also so I could tell what was going on in a fight. Enemies are the same color as the background, have great accuracy, and frequently spawn out of nowhere or in monster closets a la DOOM. The result is non stop intense combat with enemies leaping across the map or shooting you from a kilometer away while you are bounding around the air shooting at them from below. Also a lot like DOOM.
In spite of how much greatness is in this game, I would be remiss to not mention how catastrophically broken Necromunda: Hired Gun is. The performance is rough. The gameplay is unbalanced. The HUD is overwhelming and the gun can take up half the screen. There’s a Diablo 2 style loot system but no real inventory. If you equip a gun in a mission you unequip a random gun. The story is nonsense. The cutscenes are boring. The melee takedowns are ridiculous. The dog friend is weird and not very useful. The list goes on.
That’s just what comes to mind. The game is certainly not for everyone. The reality is Necromunda: Hired Gun is one of the roughest games I’ve ever played, and I played Cyberpunk 2077. Unlike Cyberpunk, however, Necromunda is one of the most exhilarating titles I’ve played in a long while. It’s nonsense, glitchy, unbalanced, and just like E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy, I wouldn’t have it any other way.