The Technomancer – An Electric Review
The Technomancer is an under-marketed and underfunded game from Spiders and Focus Home Interactive that performs as expected. It doesn’t reach the caliber we have been treated to from CD Projekt Red or Bethesda, but it rises above Spiders’ earlier games and should be a fun go-round for lovers of Western RPGs.
Developing team Spiders has been known to release games that fly below the radar and aren’t entirely great. Dialogue is poorly written and poorly voiced; overall narrative isn’t too involved; side quests are nothing more than fetch quests. Despite this, each title has a lot of heart and worth a play. The Technomancer is most certainly a part of the latter. While it ails from some poor dialogue and voice acting, each mission narrative has a reason for being there. Side quests–while some may involve fetching items–are woven within the main arc and are both necessary for understanding the world as well as character motive.
The game takes place on Mars after the events of Spiders’ earlier title Mars: War Logs. While the two narratives aren’t tied to one another as most sequels are, The Technomancer uses and expands on the world and lore from its predecessor. You take up the mantle of Zachariah Rogue, whose history is largely unknown to the player. In the first few moments of the game, players will learn that Zachariah wishes to ditch his “Rogue” title and become Zachariah Mancer, a fully-fledged Technomancer–a group of mutated humans whose existence is predicated upon unearthing (pun intended) information regarding their old home on Earth. The Technomancers live to protect this information, or die trying, as this information is as ancient as it is powerful. Along the path, certain events will transpire which toss Zachariah into a battle of morality, forcing him to side between multiple warring factions. The Army, Vory, Technomancers, each city the player visits, as well as each party member will have reputation. How you respond/complete missions for each will determine how well-received you are, and–as modern RPGs would have it–determine the fate of the world.
The Technomancer offers very strong, stylistic, and even innovative combat. Taking a page from their most recent release, Bound By Flame, the largest innovation combat stance. In real time, at any time, the player can choose between utilizing Technomancy, Warrior, Rogue, and Guardian stances, or a combination of Technomancy and the other three.
The Warrior stance employs the use of a staff and is the favored stance of Technomancers; Rogue uses a Bloodborne-inspired gun and poisoned dagger, where the gun is used for parry-like disruptions, and the Guardian, a blunt weapon and shield. There are large skill trees for all stances, each with unique abilities to work toward, like Tornado (a staff ability), or Overload (a Technomancy ability). Furthermore, all weapons can be infused with electricity, a Technomancy power that will remain for as long as it is triggered and equipped, but will limit the player to one less “fluid” use (I will get to fluid in a moment). On top of all of this, each stance can be switched during combat with a combination of bumper and face buttons, allowing for a number of different combat scenarios.
Another aspect of The Technomancer worth noting is setting. Prior to delving into this however, I offer a caveat: as far as I’ve played, traversing Mars outside has yet to come to fruition; make note there is a very viable scientific reason: atmosphere. Mars’ atmosphere is not thick enough to block radiation from the sun, thus the need for “shadow paths,” a very important aspect of the game. Now that is out of the way, location. In Zacharia’s travels, players will visit a variety of locations. From Ophir to Noctis, and the shadow paths in between, each locale has a mood entirely their own. The score for each city adds to the ambiance and aids the mood very well. For example, Ophir has a very “militarized”–if you will–score, that resonates with its seedy underbelly, while Noctis has a bedouin feel, complete with tabla and sitar arrangements.
I have unfortunately been unable to complete the entirety of Zacharia’s travels so I am hoping to explore more cities complete with their intriguing scores.
Companion missions offer the best insight into each of your party members. Much like Dragon Age, these loyalty quests open more dialogue options as well as romantic possibilities with each member. These are perhaps my favorite missions because you learn a lot about your friends. Their motivations, their likes and dislikes, and most especially, their pasts. The latter usually informs the other attributes, but they are interesting enough to continue the quests to fruition, especially if the player has vested interest in particular companions.
The game also touches on societal classes. Racism is abound, running a three-legged marathon with societal class systems. This may seem generic, with most RPGs containing the same elements, but The Technomancer takes an entry from CD Projekt Red’s diary of Geralt’s adventures in The Witcher series. This racism and overall class hatred are deep-seeded and represent quite the disparity between all factions on Mars. Each city displays such nuances in their own way, and certainly add to the mood of the game’s narrative.
These points are not to say The Technomancer is on par with other RPG releases, because it is not. It strives to climb the ranks, but sits somewhere between Two Worlds 2 and Dragon Age, though, closer to the latter. It is most certainly a game for lovers of Western RPGs. I say this for a few reasons: world-building leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a lot of walking; that does not mean the locations aren’t a microcosm of Mars as a whole, it just means level design is simply lacking inginuity. Character creation is bare bones. You choose a face, hairstyle and color, and eye color. As stated earlier, dialogue and voice-acting is mediocre at best, but that is typical of an underfunded developer. These attributes most certainly halt The Technomancer from becoming a great release, but where they falter, the game’s combat, characters, and overall narrative come to aid.
The Technomancer is a game with much heart and tries hard to be like its RPG brethren. Those who love Western RPGs will enjoy the science-fiction setting, and fans of Mars War Logs will receive a much better game than anything Spiders has previously developed. It has its faults, but it shines in areas other games do sometimes fail. That being said, I give The Technomancer a