Review: The Technomancer (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): June 28, 2016
- Release Date (EU): June 28, 2016
- Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
- Developer: Spiders
- Genres: Action, role-playing, open-world
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
A Martian misadventure
The Technomancer follows Zachariah Mancer, part of the elite "Technomancer" race gifted with electric powers and charged with keeping peace and protecting the people of Mars. It's a spiritual successor to the three year old RPG "Mars: War Logs", and suffers from many of the same problems, including stiff characters, a generic story, and confusing combat. Technomancer tries to be Fallout or Arkham Asylum but without the budget to do so, and the overreaching of the developers makes no part of the game really able to shine.
Zachariah Mancer is truly a boring character, and the game seems to want him both to be a silent protagonist and an emotional person. As a result, he is a character whose lines are flat and heavy-handed almost all the time, and one I ended up caring very little about. A karma system (albeit limited) is present, but most of the story stays the same regardless of karma and it fails to really have a meaningful effect. Nor are any of the players' companions particularly emotional or interesting, and even the main characters in the story fail to stand out in any way. Boring characters certainly don't make the generic story any better, either. Though it has its surprising twists and turns, overall the story is a fairly generic one in terms of dystopian fiction and fails to ever reach to any remarkable height.
Musically, the title is overall decent; the soundtrack is nothing amazing but it certainly has some great tracks. Although certain songs get repeated often, this is to be expected as this is an open-world game with quite a lot to explore. Terrible voice acting doesn't do the game any favors, either. I don't understand why the developer decided to opt for fully-voiced lines when they clearly didn't have the budget to hire any decent voice actors. The main character's voice is emotionless and everyone else's is mostly the same. I would have much preferred if the game just used partial or no voice acting, because I couldn't bear listening to its current implementation for long.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the game is its visuals. Considering how small this developer is, the textures are very detailed, and they look surprisingly realistic considering their budget. With an appealing visual style, the environments are also extremely detailed. Unfortunately, I did run into quite a few performance issues, including framerate drops in populated areas and frequent crashing. These defects may not exist on the console versions, but as it stands the PC version is fairly unoptimized.
Fallout: Knights of the Old Arkham Asylum
Combat is the most half-baked part of this game. It starts with a somewhat innovative idea: the player can choose from one of three different fighting styles and switch between them in the middle of a battle. There are Warrior, Guardian, and Rogue styles, each with their own unique attacks, as well as Technomancer powers that can be used independently of the other styles. But this game chooses to dumb this system down to the point where there's hardly even a difference between the styles. 90% of all combat is furiously tapping left click to attack, then hitting right click to dodge and resuming the left click frenzy. Each style only has a few other moves to even play with. Technomancer powers are underwhelming, and due to the sheer lack of options and special skills, the combat is boring and not engaging. An active pause menu lets you select and bind certain items and skills mid-combat, which is interesting, but like I said these powers and skills are so underwhelming in their usage that they're mostly ineffective.
As far as other gameplay is concerned, the game borrows heavily from other games in the genre. Skill and attribute trees are nothing new, the inventory and equipment system is not particularly intuitive, and the game follows the same pattern as any other open-world RPG on the market. However, the title has a unique crafting system, but it quickly becomes frustrating since it requires lugging components around everywhere you go. Of course the game has a frustrating carry limit, which both disrupts immersion and causes unnecessary frustration. I get that it's a common feature in this type of game but it becomes a factor so early that it's bound to drive players away.
A mish-mash of its peers, Technomancer has combat similar to the Arkham games, inventory management and missions similar to Fallout, and environments heavily inspired by the KOTOR games. However, it doesn't capture the magic of any of these games; instead it mashes them all up into one underwhelming experience. There really is not much to set this game apart from the other titles it draws from. Story missions are underwhelming, with most being "kill these enemies then kill a boss", and the side quests are mostly silly fetch quests and other things that aren't really worth the player's time. Decidedly, Technomancer sets out to be average, and frustratingly so, because this small developer is clearly nothing to scoff at and could have produced something more more unique and, well, fun.
+ Huge open world
+ Impressive visuals
+ Interesting crafting system
- Framerate and stability issues
- Confusing and non-engaging combat
- Generic story and side missions
- Wholly uninteresting story and characters
- Doesn't set itself apart from its peers
While the visuals are very impressive for such a small developer, the presentation is brought down but the horrid voice acting and boring story, which manages to create a whole world of insignificant and underwhelming characters.
The boring combat and uninteresting missions make this a game that seems to only appeal to people who like performing pointless tasks for XP and mashing the left click button a lot. Excepting the cool crafting system, the game doesn't bring enough to the table to stand out.
Being an open-world RPG, there is obviously lots to do in the world and lots of missions to complete, but the world is restricted too often to feel truly open, and the missions lack variety.
out of 10
(not an average)
A true jack of all trades, The Tehnomancer's impressive visuals don't make up for its lack of engaging combat and inability to set itself apart from other games in the genre. It's a mashup of many other open-world RPGs that is produced by a smaller developer than any of them; it sets itself up for disappointment.