Hey gang, Valkor here. When I first started the GameView section, my ultimate goal was to pass the reigns of reviewing titles off to other writers; it takes a lot of time to review games (depending on the title), and while I have lots of fun covering them, I love other sections of the site more - mainly MediaView. And while I have a couple of very good writers holding things down, they can’t review every title I’d like covered, so I'll dip into the gaming pool from time to time to help with the load. And I’m OK with that! So I’m back with an ambitious endeavor from the folks at Spiders, who’ve brought along an action/RPG that I’m really enjoying, but it could have been something more, had it been tweaked a bit. Check it out its “The Technomancer” and it’s out of this world!
“The Technomancer” is an action/RPG that takes place on Mars, 200 years into the future, which places you into the role of newly promoted Lieutenant for the corporation known as “Abundance”, Zachariah Mancer – a Technomancer, which are a society of beings who wield the power of electricity. From the moment of your promotion and after your initiation, you’re thrust into a world of conspiracy, opposing factions, racial divide, and trust issues. The further you delve into this world, you’ll soon realize there’s a bigger conspiracy at play, and you’ll have to work your way through the rankings to discover who is behind it and why. And with each interaction, your actions and communications involving those factions will determine just who will remain your friend or your worst enemy.
Under the hood, there’s so much going on with “The Technomancer” that it might seem overwhelming at first; but over time you’ll start to get the hang of things. Starting off, the game has a crafting system, which allows you to upgrade/enhance your weapons and armor with a variety of materials you find throughout the world such as in chests (some of which require lock picking), on the ground, from fallen foes or dismantling other items such as guns, swords and shields. There’s a branching skill tree, allowing you to customize your character in the style you wish to play (three styles in total, with a fourth for your technomancy skills); unfortunately, you’re given one point per level, so you really can only play with one skill tree plus the Technomancer tree; because trying to do all three skills? Not something you’d want to do right off the bat. There’s also a fifth tree for non-combat related skills such as improving strength, agility or charisma. But for this tree, you’re given only one point after so many levels. You get to interact with a wide cast of characters, most of whom you’re given a choice of dialogue or action that will affect your relationship with them as the game progresses. Your actions not only affect the person whom you’re assisting/working for, but it will either hurt or improve your relations with the surrounding factions. In one instance, I let a known criminal go, lied about it to my boss and then felt the brunt of that lie later on – man was she pissed! Another scenario, I had a job to complete to gain the trust of a mob boss and I chose not to do it, which hurt my relations with his faction immensely. You’re also given a two-man team who’ll fight alongside you; they do a decent job keeping up with you in combat. And maintaining their weapons and armor means you’ll have an easier time battling the flow of bad guys.
And speaking of combat, you’ll also have to get used to the controller system, which is just as detailed as the skill tree and utilizes just about every button on the controller. For this part of the review I’ll contain my words towards the warrior stance; for this stance, you’ll use a staff weapon but no shield. And you can attack the baddies in a couple of ways, mainly direct combat but you can also perform a move that’ll affect enemies that surround you. You also have a dodge and if you perform it successfully, you’re given the chance to retaliate and dive into a combo that’ll take out your aggressor. Think of the “Batman Arkham” games and you’re on the right track. It’s not as smooth, but it’s pretty decent. The enemies you’ll face against range from people, mutants, monsters, and more; some who’ll attack you head on and others who'll strike from a distance. And with “The Technomancer”, prepare to die – a lot! Especially from the baddies who strike with ranged weapons as they do the most damage. So prepare to do a lot of saving.
Finally, you get day and night transitions, though visually you can’t really tell when it’s day or night. The only prompt you’re given of the time is when you’re given a prompt that says your character is tired and you need rest, or if there’s a specific mission that requires you to be at a certain place, at a certain time of day. Oh and speaking of missions, you can fail at them while still progressing; though there might be other missions that’ll be locked out because of this. There was a mission early on that I didn’t pay much attention to, which was to kill a bunch of deserters – I ran into the deserters, but I didn’t kill them… because my master, at the beginning says killing is bad - and the game penalizes you with bad karma for every person you kill. So not killing those bad guys, I wound up failing, which was part of a bigger mission, and I may have cut myself off from others. To sum it all up: you get dialogue that affects how characters treat you, a rich combat skill tree, day/night transitions, and a host of RPG related characteristics that should rank this title as one of the finest games out there. So why does it feel incomplete? I’ll tell you all about it in the TOV Breakdown.
“The Technomancer”, while it has its flaws, is still a fun title, once you get over the learning curve of the controller and a few other elements that I’ll get into later (The Bad). The plot is intriguing, though not as immersive as I'd like; much of the story is carried through dialogue, so it doesn't really flow right. However, it does hold your interest - especially the choices you get to make and how it plays out overall. The controls are somewhat clunky, but before I realized it, I was tearing up the streets of Mars and dropping bad guys with the quickness. I died a lot, but that didn’t deter me from continuing my adventure. The RPG elements work well, though I would have liked more points to add to the combat skill tree or a better yet no combat tree, with the focus on the technomancy skill. I’ll be honest, I played a good chunk of the game without using any technomancy – because I barely put any points into that branch. But gameplay improved once I started dropping points in it and it improved combat scenarios. Graphically, the backdrops are amazing to look at, while the characters, for the most part, look pretty decent, though more work could have been done on the facial animation. But as far as your characters movements or battle animation are concerned – they’re OK. In battle and when he moves just right, it looks pretty sweet, especially the slow-motion bits, but they’re not perfect, which falls back on the clunky feel. I’m still chewing my way through “The Technomancer”, and if you’re looking for something new and intriguing, then you’ll want to give this one a go.
To me, “The Technomancer” lacks focus as it appears to go all over the place. And by that I mean, if it featured a more contained, tighter skill tree, removes the day/night elements, puts more focus on the combat elements (i.e. technomancy skill), and items on the controller, then I think the experience would be much improved. I find that the bad guys in the game are seriously unforgiving, which just adds elements of frustration. For example, if you’re running low on health in the heat of battle and you try to use a heal injection, it doesn't work instantly and the enemy won't wait for it to kick in. This could be a good thing, adding a touch of realism to the title, because in real life, the bad guys aren’t going to wait for you to patch yourself up. However, this is fantasy and if I’m going to use a healing item I’d like it to work instantly. Otherwise, it adds to the frustration and I’ll admit I tossed my controller a few times because of it. The dialogue could have also used some work, especially with the greeting. How are you gonna have Zachariah walk up to someone and just say “hi”, all friendly like, in a dystopian world no less? It just seemed odd and way too campy. Lastly, you have to factor in the weight of items or else you’ll have moments when you can’t sprint because you’re carrying too much stuff. While you have a storage locker to place excess items, I’d have liked this feature scrapped altogether. You already have a lot to think about and worrying about if you’re carrying too much stuff shouldn’t be one of them. As a fan of RPGs, I don’t hate on “The Technomancer”, but this bun definitely needed more time in the development oven.
“The Technomancer” is available, and while it has a few hurdles for you to get over to seriously enjoy the game, it’s still playable, with an intriguing plot and loads to enjoy. If you’re a fan of action/RPGS, I don’t highly recommend this title, but I’d say give it a try because in the end I wasn’t severely disappointed... more annoyed if anything. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m gonna meet “The Technomancer” halfway and give it a 2.5.