Platforms PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Genre Third-Person Action RPG
Publisher Focus Home Interactive Developer Spiders
Platform Played PC
Initially, The Technomancer had all the workings of a solid sci-fi RPG experience. There was an interesting world, a class of people who can control lightning, and a fast-paced combat system that felt like a cross between Kingdoms of Amalur’s multiple weapon system and Batman Arkham’s counter system. However, that optimism slowly decayed the further I got into The Technomancer. What starts out as a good game, becomes the definition of mediocrity: Looking past its faults there are some promising elements, but those faults keep rearing their head and detracting from the experience.
The Technomancer is set on Mars where water has become the most valuable resource. Corporations use lightning wielders called Technomancers to help wage their wars. It’s an interesting world, but I felt like I had been thrown in without being given much political context regarding the various factions and corporations. In the scope of the narrative it’s not that relevant, but the world of The Technomancer feels so developed that the backstory should have been fleshed out. Instead, the narrative sees you trying to overthrow a dictator after being chased from your homeland, while also trying to discover more about your Technomancer origins. The Technomancer storyline is more interesting of the two, but progression was often restricted by the other main plot line which failed to hold my attention. Further, there is a lack of a pay-off for big plot moments. What should be milestones in the story are seen as just another event. Furthermore, I rarely felt like the hero of the story, just someone doing everyone else’s dirty work.
The biggest downfall to the game’s narrative – and, consequently, gameplay – is that it keeps sending you back to the same few locations over and over again. Even when I left the first hub world after chapter one, the missions kept sending me back there. There wasn’t a change in enemies either; every room had exactly the same enemies every time you entered and it became tiresome quickly. Rushing through the main story will probably take about 15 hours, about 12 of which take place in two locations. The whole game is filled with quests that require you to run back and forth between the same places. Sometimes you’d travel about fifteen minutes to visit a character and be told a piece of information that sends you elsewhere, which means fighting back through the enemies you just fought through to go to the new location. The Technomancer does not hide its repetitiveness well enough.
It, perhaps, would have been more enjoyable if combat had not been so frustrating. Firstly, there are only a handful of different enemy types in the game: a few human variants with different weapons, and a few monsters. Secondly, combat feels like a game of chance. The Technomancer relies on a disruption system, wherein your attacks have a percentage chance to disrupt enemy attacks. When everything is flowing well, combat is actually quite fun. Each of the three weapon types (staff, dagger and gun, or mace and shield) are fun to use and can be switched to on the fly. I particularly enjoyed watching my character jumping around the screen using the staff, and its sound effect made it pack a punch. The lightning abilities also add some variety to combat should you choose to invest in that skill tree.
At its best, combat is fast paced as you’re wailing on enemies, using your lightning abilities and dodging their attacks. However, that all falls apart once the disruption system comes into play. You can only land about three melee attacks before they no longer hit an enemy. Suddenly, enemies are able to dodge all of your attacks. Then enemies enter into an attack animation that can only be avoided by dodging. When enemies often decide to attack all at once you’re left doing multiple dodges in a row which takes away any momentum you had. Further, if an enemy knocks you down, there’s no way to counter the three enemies that proceed to wail on you. Or you might get hit by a gun shot that comes from off-screen, disrupts your attack and sees three enemies take your life to from almost full to zero in two seconds.
Despite being a somewhat loot driven RPG, I never felt like I was getting stronger in The Technomancer. Upgrading my gear was to keep up with enemies rather than surpass them, which is a shame because I liked the crafting system and using materials to upgrade my gear. Adding to the lack of progression is the amount of combat abilities you have unlocked at the start of the game. You already have all three weapon types unlocked as well as a Technomancer power, and you don’t unlock that many more throughout. I never felt like I was growing my character and getting more powerful.
The worst part about The Technomancer is its bland visual palate, and texture pop-in issues. The Technomancer does not feel like a 2016 game. It’s full of browns and dark colours that were trending a few years ago, rather than the vibrant environments that we see in 2016. Furthermore, some of the shadows are so dark that character’s faces are mostly hidden by them at times. It’s just not a pretty game most of the time. Finally, texture pop-in is rife in the two main areas. I would have to wait when loading into them and watch as the world generated around me, the frame rate dipping to a stutter. Sometimes, character’s faces would fail to load and I’d be left talking to a black silhouette and a character missing hair.
There are plenty of other great RPGs you should play before you even think about The Technomancer. If it’s ever on sale for a good price then consider picking it up, but don’t expect a quality experience. For everything good it has going for it – an interesting world, a decent amount of content, and at times fast-paced combat – something always crops up that negates the experience. The story has little narrative pay-off, combat is a game of chance, and the environments are bland, repetitive and filled with pop-in issues. Initially, The Technomancer shows so much promise, but its flaws begin to show the further you progress.
- Interesting world and characters
- A decent amount of content for RPG fans
- Fast-paced gameplay at times
- Little narrative pay-off
- The disruption system and repetitive combat
- Bland, repetitive environments
- Constant texture pop-in issues