For those of you that are unaware, The Technomancer is set in the same game universe as Mars: War Logs, which was released on the Xbox Live Arcade. A little rough around the edges, but it acquired a following of dedicated fans. Now developer Spiders have brought us The Technomancer as a full price title, and now we journey back to Mars in this Action/RPG as a Technomancer, with the ability to control electricity. Set on Mars again, you control a young man by the name of Zacharia, during the War of Water 200 years after humans colonised Mars. Zacharia is from Abundance, which is one of the most powerful corporations on the red planet, and is on the run from them. This is an expansive game in terms of size, and a very ambitious project for Spiders to have undertaken, considering War Logs was an Arcade release, but have the succeeded with The Tehcnomancer, or will it remain marooned on the red planet?
There is a dark and dystopian feel to your surroundings on Mars, even down to the outfits that you wear, and the reality that people live in, is a grim one indeed. Heavily industrialised, and a lot of poor people inhabit Mars, hence the war. It all ties in together quite nicely. The world that has been built around you has been beautifully crafted, and the care and attention to detail is apparent to anyone watching any game play videos. There are various hubs and cities to explore, full of people and enemies that you get to interact with.
The game does have it’s problems however, and it is a shame that it revolves around the most important aspects of the game. Th animation of characters just feels a little stiff, and as for combat, it is not just hard, but completely unfair. Whereas in Dark Souls, you die, you learn and you get better. In Technomancer, it has not been properly realised how combat should work. You will die a lot, even on normal, where I was getting killed after 4-5 hits. Which by any stretch of the imagination, is absurd. I don’t mind a game that presents a challenge, but when it gets to the point that you are constantly dying due to the fact the rhythm and flow of combat are non-existent, you may well feel that this game is not for you. This is a sad state of affairs, as the story is actually an engaging one, and the scenery is impressive. Another area the game has fallen down is the voice acting, which sounds like the actors have read from the script in an effort to see who can be the most monotone. No passion, no emotion, and an end result that has you reaching for the volume control and enabling subtitles. The facial animations are restricted to mouth movements, giving everyone within the game world a face that looks like they are filled with Botox. Given that so much effort was invested into creating a vibrant and richly detailed world in which to play and explore, it seems a shame that so little was given to creating a protagonist who feels as if he is going through the motions.
Despite all the set backs, there is a huge world to explore, and a great leveling system at hand with plenty of upgrades. But electric proof armour when one of your main attacks is electricity? Someone dropped the ball at Spiders with that idea. Moving on to armour and weapons, there is a great crafting idea implemented into the game. You can upgrade a lot, and have many weapons and armour available to you should you find then. Scrap can be found pretty much anywhere, and all you need to do is find a crafting bench. This is becoming a popular idea for games these days, as it adds depth and plenty of options for you to create and experiment with what works best for you. Unfortunately, the upgrades don’t seem to add much in the way of increasing your attack, defense and the like.
There is a Karma system in place, but it does very little to outcomes with NPC’s, and you get the occasional comment regarding your choice to be good or evil. This could have been implemented far better. Take Fallout 3 & New Vegas for example, they didn’t do it perfectly, but they did do it a whole lot better. Interactions just seem forced, and you end up feeling nothing for anyone with the game. I love games that engage you, draw you in with interesting characters, and a deep, immersive story line. Technomancer, does very little of this. Sure the story is an original one, and does have it’s moments. But given the poor voice acting and lack of emotion shown, you end up feeling tired of hearing the same tones.
That being said, I wouldn’t say completely avoid it. Not at all. There is a good game somewhere here, and Spiders have almost nailed it. Yes, it’s not a polished and refined product they have given us. But there are areas that the game does excel in. It could end up being a game that you take a chance on in a sale. But asking £44.99 is a little bit cheeky when taking into consideration the flaws so painfully obvious. Maybe a price in the region of £24.99 would have been a far more reasonable request. Not quite the AAA affair it could have been, had more tie and care been taken.
If you want something different, I would recommend checking it out. But wait for that sale in case you are smothered with disappointment. But the more you play, the more you will notice that the story is actually good. Enemies are interesting, starting with the boss in the Prologue, who takes very little damage, and deals out quite a lot in return. You will need to be on your toes, as the sweeping attack will kill you in 2-3 hits. The detail and design of the enemies is impressive. The game could take you approximately 25 hours, maybe more, maybe less. All dependent on how much time you want wish to spend on Mars.
It does have it’s drawbacks that lower the overall score, but hopefully Spiders can take the feedback from reviews, and if we are lucky, then their next title will have resolved all the issues that have held Technomancer back from being stood shoulder to shoulder with the RPG greats like Dragon Age, Witcher and Dark Souls. It could have happened this time around, what with the high res textures and attention to detail. It’s an almost but not quite effort from Spiders, and I do feel a bit disappointed with the end result, as I had this on my radar. Combat and voice acting need a lot of work to improve what is currently there, but whilst combat could be worked on with a patch, a full re-recording of all the lines of dialogue in-game would not be a viable option.
Achievements for those that are interested are what you would expect, story progression, difficulty related and kills with various weapons. With a game like this however, you would be best off ignoring them and diving headlong into the story instead. You will get far more enjoyment from it.
The end result, yes you should play it if Action/RPG’s are your preferred genre, but don’t expect it to be the cream of the crop. By no means a terrible game, and could have been a better finished product. But the story, Mars setting and high res textures almost go some way to making up for the short falls. Give it a go, and see how you feel about it. t does have a charm to it, and perhaps a strange humour, when you see people with surnames such as Rogue and Mancer. Being named after your job? Well then. Guess I am an alcoholic.
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