The Technomancer PC Review
The lesser known game developer Spiders is back this time with The Technomancer, a post-apocalyptic RPG set in a cyberpunk style universe. The Technomancer is a sort of sequel to the previous Spiders game Mars: War Logs, which received a less than warm welcome from the critics.
The game story is set more than 20 years after humans first colonised Mars and they are now in the midst of a war for the control of water. After a catastrophic event that caused the solar system to tilt on its axis, Mars entered a new orbit much closer to the sun. The alien atmosphere can no longer filter out the harmful radiation bombarding it and has caused the population to all but be wiped out. Many were forced to flee the settlements they inhabited causing them to be caught in the sun’s harmful radiation, either killing or severely mutating them. The rest survive under massive metal roofs constructed by the corporations in control of the planet’s water supply.
Water is now a scarcity on the red planet and is controller by large corporations who understand one thing “the people controlling water on Mars control the planet itself”. Other than the water wars a lot of this backstory seems to be missed during the intro video. The backstory seems to be well thought out and would have made for a more informative introduction.
In The Technomancer you play Zachariah Mancer – a young Technomancer – from Abundance, one of the larger colonies on Mars. Zach is customisable to small degree including skin colour and hair but very limited on every other aspect. The starting assignment of skills, talents and attributes give you little to no information as to what each one does; I was basically guessing the best place to assigns these. The gender is forced as male which is an oversight on the developers’ part. I don’t think everyone in the game has their job title as a second name but it appears that all Technomancers do.
The story sees Zach learning a dark secret about the Technomancer Cabal and going on the run from the game’s secret police force.
As a Technomancer you have access to two different styles of combat: Staff, Blade/Mace and Gun, and Blade/Mace and Shield. Each of these styles provide slightly different play styles and can be switched to at any given moment during the game. This provides you with a great way to adapt during gameplay, for example switching to the shield when taking heavy damage, or to the staff when being attacked by multiple enemies. You also have access to multiple Technomancer abilities which are akin to electrical spells like casting lightning. At a certain point in the game you have the ability to get a team together which is basically two AI members and they just don’t cut the mustard. One weird thing is the enemies you face seem to have a better arsenal of automatic weapons to which you cannot use at all, some of which do a more Dark Souls level of damage to our main man Zach.
The layout of the game is very similar to The Witcher and many other RPG games with a main quest/mission line and plenty of side quests to help earn you money (called serum here) and XP for levelling up. Each level earns you skill points which are used to enhance the aspects of the combat stances discussed earlier and talents which increase Zach’s rating in various non-combat areas, the most important of these seem to be diplomacy and lock picking. Lock picking comes in handy as there are a plethora of lockers and boxes scattered around the which give you the materials needed to make upgrades to weapons and armor.
Zach’s adventuring is interesting and the main quests see him travelling around Mars in a rover, visiting different colonies whilst uncovering new quests along his travels. The quests are fun in the way they are played out and you get a real sense of political tensions between the different factions on Mars. The side quests give you a much more in depth look at Mars in general too. There is a lot of dialogue sequences in the game which provide an insight into the wider game but overall the voice acting is pretty bad and the movements of the in game’s characters features do very little to mimic a real speaker. The main problem here is that the main character is somewhat chatty which draws more attention to the bad voice acting.
The main combat stances are fun to use but you will find yourself spending pretty much the whole time in the Staff stance, due to it’s ease of use and ability to cancel out any attack thrown at you. This takes some practice but once you have it down you’ll find most of the fights a doddle. I spent a great deal of time investigating the Blade and Gun stance but found it unhelpful when mobbed with enemies and found myself dying a lot. Get used to dodging early on is a must in this game as you will frequently find yourself up against enemies of greater levels. The game lacked any kind of checkpoint system as was based on the game saves alone meaning if you had died halfway through a quest right back to the last save you go. This became quite frustrating with a particular mission where you needed to escort some dignitaries and fight off waves of enemies.
If you’ve found yourself in limbo when it comes to RPG games this one might be worth a play for people into a interesting storyline and fun monster fights. The voice acting on the main character is bad with the other main characters being passable but still overall there is no real emotion in anyone’s voice during the game. The combat stances give the game a fresh feel as switching stances can give you the edge in some battle but I almost always found myself fighting in the Staff stance as it was the easiest for taking down the enemies as they mobbed you.
I highly recommend playing this game with a controller of some kind, especially if you are playing on the PC like I did, as it makes the game feel more fluid as the combat system is generally just a serious of non-sensical button mashing. Think Tekken but with customisable boots. I found the controls somewhat slow to react especially when trying to stop running as this would last a little longer than needed. I keep coming back to the voice acting but a big part of an RPG is the how the story is conveyed and this game falls flat on it’s face here making the story seem drab rather than the colourful tale they have crafted. The environments are nice but overall nothing to write home about. The game looked good on paper but unfortunately it has too many pitfalls causing it to feel very lackluster.