When I first heard and watched footage of The Technomancer, I was immediately hooked. Here was an RPG that featured real-time, varied combat in an intriguing sci-fi setting. It seemed to take the best ideas of other popular RPGs, while still retaining its identity. Even though The Technomancer still delivers on the RPG front, its minor setbacks prevent it from being a hidden gem.
Once upon a time
The Technomancer can be best described as a sci-fi futuristic epic. Players take control of Zachariah, a recently promoted Technomancer (Humans who have the ability to wield electricity), who starts off learning about a secret known only to Technomancers and experiencing the electrical powers first hand. A series of unfortunate events turns Zach’s life upside down and he is chased across the whole planet of Mars by the secret police. Throughout his journey, Zachariah must forge alliances to clear his name and bring a type of stability to Mars. The story is littered with multiple and diverse characters, monsters and enemies. You can tell Spiders really wanted to create a setting that would be worthy of any RPG. Unfortunately, stiff animation in characters and copy-and-pasted enemies, dull the otherwise vibrant world.
The imitation game
New life is breathed into The Technomancer through its combat. Those who have played The Witcher 3 the Batman: Arkham series will feel right at home with Technomancer. Most times Zachariah will face enemies of 2-4 in any given area that he can easily dispatch. Yet, in times where you have to face a boss or huge mob, The Technomancer forces players to think and assess the situation rather than attacking blindly. Zachariah is adept in the Staff (Technomancer class), Shield and Mace (Guardian Class), or Knife and and Rail gun (Rogue Class).
Being adept in those disciplines grants Zach the ability to switch between weapons at any time in combat. Are you facing a huge monster that runs at you head first? Use your staff to swing around you for crowd control. How about giant mantis that throws venom at you? Switch to your shield and mace, wait until you get close, then finish them off. When you add this weapon freedom with the electrical technomancy powers, and the numerous traps and bombs you can lay down, you get a variety of attacks that suit multiple play styles. Although the combat and the potential it has is a strong point, leveling up to get some arbitrary power that just increases your damage slightly or decreases the amount of damage you take makes leveling meaningless.
Checking things off the list
Though I describe The Technomancer as a sci-fi futuristic epic, it doesn’t always live up to its description. Yes, the world, the story, and the combat are great but the other parts that are just as important are evidently lacking.
For example, the dialogue is very limited. Zach mostly has two to three responses to every situation and you can’t help but wonder if the game would be better of if there weren’t any dialogue choices at all. The NPCs in the game, who you spend most of the time talking to, are also very bland. The facial animations are very stiff and it seems like everyone on Mars came from the same family – which would make sense since everyone on Mars comes from the first colony of humans that settled there years ago.
While the world is great in design and conception, it seems to be just there. An area might have many routes to get to the objective, and players might think they will be rewarded for exploration but sometimes you might not find anything. Often the loot found might be Serums (a commodity that can be easily harvested of fallen enemies) or gear that you most likely already have.
In fact, The Technomancer only seems to shine when you are in combat or watching a cutscene within the main story, which makes it seem like Spider just added these other elements to check of their “RPG Checklist” because they were making an RPG.
The final say-so
Released in the middle of summer, The Technomancer might be the game to satisfy RPG fans while they wait for other high profile releases. It features a great story that has depth, multiple outcomes to validate numerous playthroughs, a solid combat system that keeps moment-to-moment gameplay interesting and familiar mechanics that are easy to pick up and master. While The Technomancer is recommended for futuristic and sci-fi fans, players should be wary of its setbacks. Spider has focused more on gameplay and storytelling than world building. The animation quality is sub par and leveling up can easily be removed from the core game without affecting it substantially. Overall, The Technomancer is worth a try as it borrows elements of other famous RPGs, while still standing on its own.