The Technomancer is the latest game to come us through Focus Home Interactive and Spider Studios, after their previous games Mars War Logs and Bound by Flame. Continuing on in the same universe as the one established in Mars War Logs, The Technomancer has been marketed as an ambitious project, promising a massive sci-fi RPG with the ability to shape the story based on your choices as you progress. This sounds like amazing news to any fan of RPG gaming, but how does it all come together in the final product?
After your initial customisation, your adventure begins long after the colonisation of Mars as your initiation will take you to one of the Ancient Domes, vestiges of the first human colonies on Mars and one of the ‘sacred’ places guarded by the Technomancers. You will confront the harsh reality of the Red Planet as you embark on a quest leading through the refuges of the tribal communities on Mars, cities buried under the ice, and the dystopian slums around the few remaining cities on the now wasteland planet. After playing through the first chapter of this saga, the plot starts off slow and feels like you’ve been thrown in the deep end left to fend for yourself but it soon starts to pick up after completing some of the main story quests and at the end of a very lengthy first chapter, leaves you in an interesting predicament.
Your adventures through Mars will take you through countless main quests and side quests that will eat the hours away. Quests can often be completed in a variety of ways; with force of course, but also using negotiation and stealth, depending on the talents you’ve chosen. The dynamic dialog system plays a major role in the quests and will enable you to alter the course of the plot and the progress of your quests depending on the decisions you make. With your allies that assist you during gameplay, you will form friendships, romances and even intense rivalries. Your decisions will not only impact on the plot and the events in your adventure, but also on the side quests you may be lucky enough to unlock. It goes without saying it will be useless to seek help from a companion or another character you have betrayed. Depending on your decisions, you will make friends or enemies of certain groups and it is possible to miss out on certain objectives and or quests depending on your decisions, even at times unintentionally, which could be good or bad depending on your preference in these matters.
The game features 3 combat styles – staff (warrior), blade/gun (thief), and blade/shield (guardian). Each of the 3 styles has its own skill tree where you can improve your existing skills or gain new ones by allocating XP you earn during your adventure. In addition, you can harness the electrical powers of the Technomancers and upgrade those abilities via a skill tree as well as you gain XP and level up through combat and quests. There is also a dynamic, tactical, real-time combat system, which means that before engaging in battle, consider the forces you’re up against and prepare an attack strategy that will deal with your adversaries most efficiently. For most of the combat situations I faced, I preferred to use the blade/gun as it is easier to get some space and shoot from a distance as well as electrocute enemies with your Technomancer powers. The different combat styles all feel different enough, and expand us you upgrade your skill tree, although can at times feel a little repetitive. It also helps that you have allies that can assist you in combat, although often times they tend to get knocked out fairly quickly, especially in “boss” battles, leaving you to fend off a group of enemies on your own, and you’d better be careful not to take many hits as it’ll only take less than a handful to kill your character, which depending on how good you are can happen quite often, sending you back to your last save point. Take note to manually save your game often as it’ll autosave between dialog, entering buildings and switching locations, but if you go a long stretch without encountering any of these, you will be forced back to your last auto save and lose any XP gained, points leveled up or anything you have done after your save.
You are also able to forage for and collect many items like debris, metal, leather parts and even clothing items and weapons from defeated enemies and looted chests and trash cans. You can use assign the clothing and weapons to your character and your allies, and also craft several upgrades to them from the other debris that change their appearance and specs, which can increase their power or help disrupt enemies long enough to give you a brief advantage in combat. This and the upgrade points you can choose to assign are the greatest hint of customization the game has to offer, although, there are so many options available to customize your gear, if you have sufficient talents and parts to do so, that you won’t know where to begin and which can also take some time if you want to carefully think about it.
Presentation wise, the game looks alright. While many characters have all too similar faces to those you could choose for Zachariah at the start, environments look diverse enough and the designs of many of the creatures are striking. One could argue that perhaps graphically, this might not look too out of place on a PS3 or Xbox 360, but visually looks good enough. The voice acting and background music unfortunately have left something to be desired. Your main character appears to be voiced the best, fortunately, but many other characters you encounter on just seem decent at best and the background music is such that you barely even know it’s there at times.
While not AAA quality, fans of RPG gaming can still find some enjoyment to be had. The is definite ambition at work with this title, but doesn’t always quite hit the mark as the developers had perhaps intended. The story will take a little while to draw you in and the graphics and voice acting could be better, but the story changes based on decisions and relationships you make so there is definate intrigue there and gets you invested. It also adds to the reputability factor of the game to be able to to play the game over again and make different decisions to see how the impact the story differently. There are three unique combat styles – four with Technomancer powers – and many outfits, weapons and skills to upgrade. This game might not be for everyone, but may be worth a look if you enjoy branching storylines and the sci-fi or RPG genre, or even if you want something challenging to tide you over between game releases.
Reviewed on: PS4
Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action RPG
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Publisher/Developer: Focus Home Interactive, Spiders
Estimated RRP: R849
Release Date: 28 June 2016
- Branching story that changes based on your decisions
- Creature designs
- Not constantly autosaving progress
- Voice acting