Action RPGs are one of my favourite genres and Spiders are focused on delivering new ones having made a decent start on the console market in Bound by Flame. Now they are back and I’m bringing you my The Technomancer review wondering if they have made a step forward with this new game. It was hotly anticipated following some really good trailers, but can they deliver on the promise?
After all, small studios with high ambitions often get a hard time with expectations often exceeding the capabilities.
Once again the game has some rough edges and some hit and miss acting. But it a really enjoyable game to play with sold RPG elements and a fight system that makes you think more than just hacking away. With a steady levelling system, crafting and a lot of player choice, this is a solid experience.
Check out my look at the game in-depth below and let me know if you are considering getting this one in the Disqus Comments at the end of the article.
Look and Feel – The Grey, Red Planet
Not only did Spiders make a an ambitious game here, they have also developed their own game engine. This was used in Bound by Flame and looked pretty nice. The Technomancer takes this on with some impressive looking visuals on the main cast when the game gets close.
In general play everything is nice enough, some locations are well presented as you move from small sandbox to the next. My issue here though is in the colour pallet: there is a lot of grey everywhere you visit.
Especially for the first half of the game, it does expand as you get out of the first area. But if you want to get all those side missions done (and you will) you’re going to be there a while. And you’ll be looking at a much less kinky 50 shades of grey.
But technically the game is solid, it runs nicely with the odd moment that sees the frame rate dip but generally they are made a really technically sound game. Especially for a smaller studio.
Where the game does look cool is in the combat as your animations with the lighting effects look really impressive. As you time those combos and get the slow motion effect everything feels very satisfying.
The presentation somes up the game in a lot of ways, it’s good but has some rough edges. How particular you are about graphics is where you’ll either switch off or not care and getting hooked on the quests…
Story and Gameplay – Mars Attacks!
As the game starts your going to be playing the game as Zachariah Mancer, a rags-to-ritches type character who’s risen from the slums to being a Technomancer. Well, almost.
You start out with a quick character customisation screen, a very simple one. There is no choice between genders, maybe a step back from Bound by Flame but I personally feel it worked better having one solid character given how bad the female voice acting was in the previous game.
After that your start your first mission and earn the right to be a full Technomancer, where you learn the controversial secret all Technomancers share: where your abilities stem from.
This knowledge and its cover up are the cause for tension between factions of Mars and sees you soon fighting to find out what is going on with an ongoing conspiracy. All of which brings back some references to the original game, Mars War logs published by Spiders in 2013.
This is a massive step forward however and Abundance and Aurora take centre stage once again, there is a lot more to entertain you this time around.
Side missions are the big one, they are just so damn addictive to get done even if they are a little “fetch quest” heavy at times. But the best thing about them is the limited time frame that leaves you with choices to make. If you carry on with the main quests too much you’ll get to a point certain quests are lost and cannot be done, leading to future quests being different or even not available.
Doing them is a must though as you’ll be wanting the experience points to level up and expand your abilities. Spiders games are not easy and there levelling system is nice but doesn’t elevate you to the powers of a god. You simply need to get stronger to not get your ass whooped! Even then you will take a few beatings.
Thankfully you can support your upgrades with weapons and armor crafting that sees your add extra power or resistance to armor attacks. It’s all about getting the full package going here since crafting relies on your upgrades and getting better reserves from combat.
But there is lots of combat, and it’s this that will be the deciding factor for you if you like The Technomancer or not.
Strategic Hack and Slash
At face value it seems a hack and slash style action combat system but with a hit points and some magic thrown in. But it’s actually quite tactical and requires some practice and concentration to get right. Even then, be prepared to restart a fair few times as you will get taken down if you are not careful.
There are 4 tiers of your arsenal, Technomancy is you lighting power that provides special moves. It also charges your weapons and gives you the power to stun enemies with it. Given this is the focus of the game, you will be spending points here even though you don’t have to.
The other 3 are fighting stances, Warrior is the traditional stance to of Technomancer and sees you fighting with a staff. Rogue has you wielding a dagger and pistol going for critical hits and stealth. The guardian is the last style that gives you a mace and shield to really hit hard and provides great defence at the expense of speed and movement.
Personally, I liked the Warrior stance the best as the balance was just right for me. Each has its place though, although i’d personally advice you to specialise in 2 at most until later in the game.
Combat is frequent in the game and sees you tested often. Whacking buttons and random will soon see you dead if you are set upon by large groups. You have to pay attention, watch for the movement of foes and dodge, counter or block and strike. It’s tricky and slightly clunky at times but it’s very satisfying when you get it right.
It’s not perfect but it is entertaining, especially taking on the big monsters, making big choices and exploring the sandboxes.
This is a tough one gamers, The Technomancer is worth playing if you are an action RPG fan who doesn’t need perfection to enjoy a game. Of you can accept this small studio is aiming high and doing their best then it’s worth playing.
You certainly get the feeling Spiders are capable of creating something exceptional one day and while The Technomancer isn’t that, it’s closer than ever before. There are some areas that are way too colourless and the questing is rather simplistic.
Still, it’s a solid game and one to give you hours of things to do in a cool, cyberpunk world. You will have some fun and it certainly is a step forward for this developer. Other games are making it harder to compete however, next time out those great ideas need to really deliver. Check my scores below and drop me a comment if you’re getting this one.