Open world RPG’s like The Witcher or Mass Effect series, are almost exclusively put out by huge AAA publishers. So it’s interesting to see a smaller game company like Spiders release The Technomancer, an open world sci-fi RPG set on Mars.
The Technomancer, an indirect sequel to Spider’s Mars: War Logs, really wants to be your next favorite RPG, it has a complex story, a large detailed game world with its own history and society, freedom to tackle missions in many different ways, and a large and varied upgrading system. But try as it might, Technomancer tries to do too many things at once to be the next Mass Effect.
In Technomancer, players take on the role of Zachariah, a rookie Technomancer who serves the Abundance colony on Mars. Technomancers in the game, are basically Jedi-like soldiers who are gifted with electricity-based powers and use them to serve their colony in the water wars that ravage the planet.
The game begins on Zachariah’s graduation day from the Technomancer academy, before beginning players are given some limited customization options for Zachariah’s appearance; basically hair, skin, and face. The gameplay begins by familiarizing you with the combat mechanics, which consist of three different styles and weapons; the warrior style uses a combat staff and focuses on area attacks, the guardian uses a mace and shield and promotes defense, while rogue employs a pistol/short sword combo which focuses on dealing focused damage. In any of the stances players are also able to use their technomancer powers.
During my playthrough I found myself primarily using the sword and pistol combo, but no matter which style you choose, expect to do a lot of dodging and rolling to survive, Zachariah isn’t able to soak up a lot of damage so avoiding attacks is a major component of combat. I found the combat to be one of most enjoyable parts of the game, requiring enough skill to be challenging while never being punishingly difficult.
As you gain levels and experience through combat, you are able to gain new abilities either for a combat style or your technomancer powers. Every few levels you are rewarded points for the two other skill trees; talents, which are non-combat skills such as lock picking and charisma, and attributes, which govern Zach’s stats such as strength, health, and agility.
After you learn the basics of combat and graduate from the academy, you are able to start taking on the various main and side quests in the game, which takes your party, via a mars rover, to different locations on the red planet. The game also has a number of random events, like robberies or hostage situations, that the player can take part in if they so choose.
The game’s main story is fairly standard but entertaining enough. Zach begins by faithfully serving his masters only to find a vast conspiracy that sends him on the run from the colony he once served. The developers certainly made an effort to build a unique world with its own customs and history but much of it comes of as fairly goofy in a game that clearly takes itself far too seriously. This isn’t helped by the poor voice acting and strange facial expressions that are sometimes made by Zach during dialogue.
The game’s many quests will take Zach and his party through futuristic cities, dusty settlements on the Martian frontier, and deep caves filled with unspeakable monsters. Unfortunately, though the game takes place in a fairly large and explorable world, it all ends up feeling the same after a while. An aesthetic of red rust and dilapidation runs through every environment, making every new area kind of feel like more of the same. This lack of variety in the look of the environments combined with the less than stellar graphics make Technomancer visually dull.
Technomancer’s main fault is that it is a game that is trying to do too many things at once but only gets two or three of them right. For every core mechanic that the game introduces, the game also introduces a mechanic that is then seemingly forgotten about. In the game’s opening mission, a morality system is introduced by giving players the ability to drain defeated enemies of serum (the game’s currency), which kills them and costs karma points.
This is presented as if it’s going to be a major part of the game, but the amount of money gained from draining is so small that it never feels like much of moral conundrum. Another seemingly glaring omission is that for a game called Technomancer, your powers seem to have very little to do with technology. The term technomancy suggests that your character would be able to manipulate computers and technology, but in Technomancer your powers are just variations on casting lightning. It’s strange that a game that has clearly had so much thought put in to it, would have its titular abilities be so lacking in imagination.
Technomancer is a game that tries to stand in the ranks of AAA open world RPGs but ends up falling short of its goal. While the combat and story are engaging; the dull visuals, overstuffed gameplay, and unimaginative player abilities make Technomancer a somewhat uneven experience. While Technomancer is an overall entertaining experience, there’re other games doing the same thing – and doing them better.
Last Updated: June 28, 2016