Explore the cities of Mars….again and again.
The Technomancer is a game I’ve actually been quite excited for. While there are a lot of people that prefer to save their hype and excitement for the AAA titles that big companies release, I’m always rooting for the underdogs or the games that just blow my expectations away, either via fun factor, or just gameplay mechanics. Spider has been no stranger to the video game world, and those that have followed them know what to expect. The last Spider game I really enjoyed was Bound by Flame. While it had and some questionable and corny dialog, it still gave me an enjoyable time, aside from getting to the end game content. So when it was announced they would be doing a big sci-fi RPG, I was ready and waiting. Set on Mars and following a new Technomancer recruit, it sounds like something full of excitement and interesting ideas. Unfortunately, I’m going to come out and say it straight, I didn’t really enjoy Technomancer and it’s a shame. Let’s get into the reasons why I walked away disappointed.
One step forward, two steps back.
Right from the start it’s apparent that this is the best looking and playing game Spider has ever created. From the years of experience in creating games, they have learned over time and it shows. Some of their earlier games looked extremely rough or basic. Here in Technomancer, we have some great looking Mars vistas to view and some otherwise nice looking lighting, especially coming from the electrical effect of the Technomancers powers and environments. The cities also look vastly different from each other, and are rather large for players to explore and take on various quests. This is inherently where the first problems started to rear their ugly head. See, Technomancer starts with a rather interesting intro, featuring a huge boss to fight and a unique location.
How long to beat: 20+ hours
Price I’d Pay: $30
After that players are dumped into the first major city where they will spend the majority of their time in the first chapter. That’s completely fine, until players reach the second chapter, get ushered into a new city and the process starts all over again. Mars could be considered a really interesting place for a setting, but it’d be hard to notice here as the majority of time is spent doing quests in cities and fighting humans. That’s not to say there aren’t any creatures to fight, but the percentage of human versus creature is vastly skewed.
Another negative is how much backtracking is expected of players between missions. No fast travel exists in the cities, and considering they are some of the biggest areas of the game, it leads to a lot of padding as I’d call it. Quite frankly it doesn’t feel as if Technomancer respects the players time, and that’s a huge issue as far as I’m concerned. Each chapter I reached would have main missions or side missions that had me going back to the cities I visited once again and after the 8th or 9th time, I’d had enough. There are a few moments and special locations that players get to explore that add some variety, but even some of those are revisited multiple times. I think readers can get the picture at this point.
Combat here is worth getting into, even though at the start fighting seems sort of secondary to just running around doing errands for people. Eventually that skews in favor of fighting, as more and more enemies come into play. Combat is an interesting mix between staff, gun, and mace weapons. Switching between the three offers various different feelings of combat, and each offers their own unique way of handing, to include unique skill trees. Throw in the Technomancer electricity abilities and players can have an interesting time doing battle. That said, battles can come off extremely tough, even on normal.
If the various abilities are not used properly, including the blocking/evading mechanics, don’t expect to live long. I dabbled with the combat on normal and switched to easy, which still had me getting my butt kicked at times. Most the time it was my fault, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed at a disadvantage, only to lose, and then realize the game hadn’t saved recently and my last save was 15 minutes ago. Another thing to take note of, ensure saving is done as often as possible, as it only does a checkpoint system every so often and can lead to redoing many moments.
Interesting set up, tepid follow up.
These were my two biggest issues with Technomancer, but things just kept adding up. It seemed as if the longer I played it, the more I picked up on its weaknesses. Visually at times it’s interesting and the story has some intrigue, but ultimately I just found myself bored with it the longer it went on. Characters didn’t seem interesting, quests were typical, and nothing really pulled me in. Add in the extreme repetition and backtracking elements, and after 16 hours, I quit out of frustration and lack of interest. I forced myself to try to complete the game over and over again; I couldn’t. Spider has one of their biggest and best looking games and solid mechanics as well. Yet even with those elements in play, the rest of the game can’t keep up to that standard. I would recommend Technomancer only to those extremely interested in the setting and going into it full well knowing that this RPG has issues.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.