Editors note: This first impressions piece is in relation to the PC version of the game, console versions may differ.
Usually, once I’ve played a game for ten hours I know whether I like it or not. However, after ten hours with The Technomancer I’m still not sure which way I fall. The premise is interesting, you’re a member of a mysterious clan who can wield electricity. Yet, exploring more of that story-line is blockaded by other less-interesting story missions that require you to play lackey for various powerful people on Mars such as a military leader or a prince.
At its core, The Technomancer is a sci-fi role-playing game, but apart from the electric powers, it hasn’t done much to stand out so far. The game feels like a mash-up between Mass Effect, Batman Arkham and The Witcher. It’s a game set on Mars with companions that are influenced by your actions. Combat utilises a mix of primary and secondary attacks, a contextual attack depending on which of the three weapon stances you are in, and a dodge. The relation to Batman Arkham is that your secondary attack (and some of your electric attacks) has a chance to disrupt enemies, but the system is closer to The Witcher because disrupting is not a definite counter and you cannot immediately cancel an animation to use one.
At times, when you’re beating on a group of enemies with your electrified staff and then switching to your dagger to deal more damage to a single foe, combat feels fast and fun. However, when you don’t hear the sound of a gun firing from an enemy off-screen, get momentarily stunned and then wailed on by three enemies attacking simultaneously and killing you, The Technomancer can be extremely frustrating. Regular occurrences like this feel unfair. My companions are also pretty poor fighters, often getting knocked out very early into a fight making the room of eight enemies flock to me.
Combat feels extremely repetitive so far because you’re given a lot at the start of the game. You start with your three weapon stances (staff, dagger and gun, and mace and shield), and a couple of Technomancer powers. If you want to add variety to combat you have to invest skill points into the Technomancer tree rather than the other weapons to unlock new electric abilities. I still don’t have a final verdict on the combat, but that should change by the final review.
The big area where The Technomancer falls down is the graphics and technical department. The Technomancer is not a bad looking game, but it doesn’t feel like a 2016 game. The textures are very dull and nothing stands out. Mars is so hot that inhabitants have to live inside these big metal structures so they don’t get fried; otherwise they end up like the socially downtrodden mutants living in poverty. As a result, there’s very little natural light radiating off structures. It all looks very dark and boring with greys and browns taking up a large amount of the colour scheme. And you’ll only notice this once the textures actually load-in. Enter some areas and the frame rate dips to a stutter as the world loads in front of your eyes. Sometimes characters faces or hair refuse to load and I’m left starting at a black shell with a pair of eyes, or a character who has suddenly gone bald. It’s extremely off-putting and detracts from the experience because of how consistently it occurs. I’m playing through the game on PC so I can’t speak for the quality of the console versions in this regard, but I’m hoping there’s a day one patch to fix the issues which have been persistent since the start of my play-through.
I’m hoping The Technomancer‘s second half is much better than its first half because what I’ve played so far has blown me away.
Analog Addiction’s full review of The Technomancer will be up as soon as possible.