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The Technomancer Review

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The Technomancer has snuck up on us without much fuss or publicity prior to its imminent launch. If you didn't go hunting for it you would be forgiven for being in the "I've never even heard of that game" boat. Somehow it did make it to my radar, but doing what I do, I was searching for it. When I did find out about it though, I was pretty well impressed with what I saw. It looks like a love child from Mad Max and The Witcher series. Being a new IP (intellectual property) on the market by a relatively unknown developer called Spiders Games I had no idea what to expect before heading into the world of The Technomancer.

"Technomancers are "mage-warriors" who can use their innate ability to harness destructive electrical powers enhanced by their cybernetic implants" - thetechnomancer-game.com

What we have here is a post apocalyptic styled sci fi role playing game that is set on Mars. The timeline has been set way into the future after Mars has been colonised. A major cataclysm occurs which sends Mars outside of its orbit around the sun as we know it today which causes it to lose contact with Earth. After this occurs, basically all hell breaks loose which then leads to the creation of six different factions on Mars which you will eventually need to work with or against to get where you want to be. 

From the very beginning, the game looked impressive and played very well. The tutorial starts you off at a nice pace and shows you the abilities, attacks and defences of your character. The tutorial will take you as long as you wish, but I recommend spending some time here familiarising yourself with the controls because there's a lot to take in. There are three different stances or fighting modes that you can switch to on the fly. The first being one of long reach and high damage at slow pace using a staff (Warrior). The second being the use of a dagger and a pistol (Rogue) which is fast paced with the ability to attack at distance with the sacrifice of the blunt trauma of your staff. The third and final stance incorporates a club and a shield (Guardian) for balanced attacks with the ability to parry/block your opponent's attack.

The graphics are not something that will define the current generation of gaming. In saying that, when comparing the graphics of The Technomancer to other games in a similar game play genre, such as Skyrim and Fallout 4, the graphics aren't the worst that you'll see. The environments and large city vistas look great and give good atmosphere to the game. The biggest issue arising here is that the first ten hours of the game will see you confined to an indoors and underground setting that doesn't really show this off much at all. 

Further to the aesthetic of the game is the animations. Although the fighting animations look and work quite well, anything outside of this feels robotic and stiff at best. When control is taken from you in lieu of playing out an automated animation, such as when climbing a ledge or ladder, the transition feels clunky and on occasion it feels like control isn't given back to the player soon enough. Often it would need to play out a seemingly redundant animation of the character walking to a predetermined point on the ground after completing an animation.

The game play revolves around levelling up your Technomancer character using several different skill tree variants. There's a lot of choice here including Charisma, Science, Crafting, Stealth, Traps/Lock Picking and Exploration. Those six talents all have space for three upgrade points and that isn't even the end of it. You can also upgrade your Strength, Agility, Power and Constitution too and they contain five upgrade slots. For those of you that like to customise your characters with very fine detail, The Technomancer will be your best friend. Whether it be your abilities, weapons or clothing, there's very likely an upgrade slot for it. Levelling up moves along at a reasonable pace, depending on how many battles you stick around to fight and each level brings with it upgrade points where you can distribute them how you wish depending on what you want to improve about your character. The choices are vast and using one point each time you level up can feel a little bit underwhelming and almost like you're standing still. After you have played for over ten hours you will start to feel like you're filling your boots as a Technomancer, but you will have only touched the sides. To create the character that you really want,  you are going to need to put a lot of hours into it and you will definitely need to push on through those fetch quest side missions. 


The fighting game play comes through very solid at first, regardless of the initial overbearing complicated control scheme. Pressing R1 on the controller along with one of the shape buttons (PS4) will change your fighting stance through Guardian, Warrior and Rogue. This is generally easy enough to do through a fight, but when you couple the need to hold down L2 in combination with the shape buttons to use 'shortcuts' to your equipment such as health injections or electrical attacks it all gets a little convoluted which causes confusion in the heat of a battle. Simply put, the controls are a mess. That is until you realise that once you find your favourite fighting stance, you'll likely just upgrade that one and never really change from it again. I chose the Warrior stance and just went with beating the hell out of enemies with the long staff. That way I only really needed to use the L2 modifier to inject health and use other attacks. 

After you find your way with the controls the fights seem to get themselves under control. You attack over and over using one button and then when that starts to fail you break it up with another button before you return back to the first button you pressed. Sadly, in my playthrough the combat that first appeared to be deep and complex was reduced to just button mashing over and over again until everything was dead or at least unconscious. 
The game play takes a dive after the opening sequence that shows off a massive scaled enemy that you have to battle. After this, all of the battles were tame in comparison. There's just not enough here to keep you motivated to keep playing. The action part of the game just wasn't ramped up enough for the sheer amount of time the game demands of the player.



The story to Technomancer is slow. You start off as a junior Technomancer getting taught the ways by your Master so that you can fight the good fight. Down the line you are hit with moral choices and double crosses that you may or may not have seen coming. Without giving away the story, we've seen this before. Thrown aside like an outcast you must find your feet again and join up with neighbouring factions to fight back at the powers that be. The story is slow and is only drip fed to you in small doses while you run back and forth to the same locations over and over again. Ten hours will pass before you get to move away from the same market stalls and underground caves that you've been running around for what seems for a lifetime. The story does get interesting though and develops into something noteworthy but by this time I think the damage had been done. The slow pace of the game is very likely going to be suited to some gamers but for those looking for a Mass Effect style storyline with big action pieces will be sadly disappointed. Those that will get the most out of this game will very much enjoy slow methodical approaches to games. If you don't mind smashing out a lot of side quests to get your fill of game play and story while you wait 24 hours of in game time for a main mission to auto play out objectives. 


I am not going down the path to say that The Technomancer has a bad story, but merely I suggest that the game offers up too little in variation and big moments that will keep it fresh through its relatively long playthrough time. The characters themselves didn't really add interest to the story line either with less than enthusiastic voice performances which left the game feeling grey. 
Essentially The Technomancer feels like a mighty ambitious attempt at a large scale RPG game that just didn't hit the highs that games like these really should to keep it flowing. With a little more excitement in the story progression and the voices of the characters would have seen this game hit harder but sadly it never really gets there. The Technomancer definitely has the DNA of a great video game, it just needs some work conveying the same story in a different manner. I have had the thought on a number of occasions that it's very likely that should a sequel come out way, it will probably be amazing.


SCORE: 6 out of 10

Positives:
  • In depth crafting ability and skill trees
  • Customisable combat modes
  • Minimal load times
Negatives:
  • Long and drawn out story
  • Convoluted control scheme
  • Unenthusiastic / forgettable characters 
SCORE: 6 out of 10
  • Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Genre: Action Role Playing Game
  • Initial Release: 28th June 2016 
  • Developer: Spiders Games
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
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