Recently, I have been in somewhat of a gaming slump. Having exhausted myself and my many games, to the point where I was kind of loosing interest…Then, The Technomancer appeared in my inbox. Honestly this was exactly the type of game I needed to bring my love of gaming back to life. Going into The Technomancer, I had visions of a Mass Effect type of space odyssey, whilst they do hold some similarities The Technomancer is a completely different beast (consider Mass Effect as The Marvel films Universe and The Technomancer as the Marvel TV side of that universe) grand in idea and scale but just not quite able to reach the highs of its comparison.
The Technomancer is a fully capable RPG from Spiders Studio, who previously released Bound By Flame which was met with a lukewarm reception. This game though, should most definitely put the studio on the map with such a detailed narrative full of twists and turns, reaching a climax that I genuinely didn’t see coming! A mouth agape ending I have not felt since Telltales The Walking dead series. That right there should tell you exactly what type of game this is, the action portion of this game takes a back seat. Given four combat styles to switch on the fly whilst in combat (Technomancer, Warrior, Rough and Guardian) each with their own skill tree’s to upgrade ( I went the path of the Warrior…because you use a God damn staff! Combine that with the electric powers of the Technomancer let’s me live out a small fantasy of being an awful Sith lord). Combat is fairly repetitive whatever path you choose. Main attack, parry, dodge are essentially what you will be doing through the entirety of the game. Though it has to be said that there is a certain fluidity to the animations. Once you get the rhythm of attack down, regardless of how repetitive it may be. It just never stops being satisfying, especially when you start to chain at disruptions and parry together, with an added slow motion effect to make it that bit more satisfying. These are mixed up with different types of weapons for each skill set. You are able to unlock and assign special abilities from each path, these come in the form of a real-time action menu, the same as Mass Effect, Dragon Age or KOTOR, they add a nice little animation, few extra hit points. That’s as far as it goes really. It does not stop there though, you have two more separate skill tree’s you can also upgrade. Talents consist of Charisma, Science, Crafting, Stealth, Traps/ Lockpicking and Exploration. These would be your character buffs and traits adding contextual dialogue to any situation, if you have played any RPG all of this will be fairly familiar. If you have become bored with bashing people’s skulls into a fine Mars based paste, then perhaps talk to your opponents instead and then maybe kill them. The last skill tree is for attributes, Strength, Agility, Power and Constitution. These run parallel with what Skill you have decided to work with. Adding more HP, a higher load barrier for item’s, more damage. You know, all the standards we come to expect from any RPG.
Also available is a weapons and clothing upgrade and “crafting” system. It’s not quite Skyrim levels of crafting but on your travels you will find vast amounts of materials which you can use to craft and upgrade your current items, for yourself or your squad. It adds a small layer of depth to the combat as you look to make your weapons and armor as powerful as they can be but it falls more on the line of a cosmetic necessity than a combat based one. At no time did I feel I was in any real danger, rushing to buy or find a new weapon. Most deaths will be because of your lack of rhythm in combat or just due to a slight mistake in timing. Having your items evolve with each upgrade is a very nice touch though. They could have easily all looked the same, but with each upgraded part comes a new design for that item. Some items are gated by recipes that you will have to buy from merchants, which then in turn correlate to your Talents tree. So it won’t be as simple as just upgrading, a bit of work will be needed.
What The Technomancer lacks in a game play sense it more than makes up for in its narrative. It is not quite the space faring romp you may be expecting but this game is dripping with undertones of racial profiling, waring government factions all trying to undercut or overthrow their opposition, political intrigue, corrupt officials who are disguising their own interests by claiming it’s for the good of the people. Underground mobs who deal in extortion, prostitution and slavery, religious zealots and a mutant faction who want nothing but to be free from their human oppressors. This is exactly where the game shines, cities move with the every day hustle of trading, city folk talk amongst themselves whilst trying to understand the troubles around them. The game doesn’t just seem alive, it breathes life. Wether it be the feeling of cold entrapment from a communism felt Ophir or what feels like a bustling Turkish market town like Noctis (the hidden merchant city) you are able to wander these city’s with a feeling of awe as you look around. This will remain quite spoiler free as there is a lot to take in and digest with the story of the Technomancer. You play as Zacharia Mancer a newly anointed Technomancer who very quickly learns of the deceit and corruption that runs through abundance, you are forced into exile by Victor Watcher a man who will stop at nothing to run Abundance how he sees fit. You flee your home city in an attempt to reestablish contact with earth whilst also try to corral these waring factions into coming together to overthrow Victor. Murmurs of your actions be them good or bad flow through each city. Each choice you make leaves a lasting effect on the game, for me I lost two to three companions due to my actions. So every choice you make over the course of the game counts, perhaps you strike up alliances with people you would rather not, start a loving romance for when things get too stressful. There will be enemies who will hunt you out because of your actions. This is just a brief insight into a world plagued by its own success, its own greed and decadence. Holding a mirror up to our own existence. With a campaign that last around 30/40 hours there is more than enough to explore on Mars.
So go take a trip to Mars..I hear it’s quite lovely this time of year. Be careful though…you just might not make it back.