Technomancer is an Action RPG from the creative minds on the Spiders development team, and it is an exciting, post-apocalyptic, combat-rich trek into a futuristic world on Mars.
Released on June 28th, 2016, Technomancer does an excellent job of bridging the gap between classic RPG quests and character customization with all the excitement and adventure the Action genre is known for. As someone who loves cyberpunk, dystopian, and post-apocalyptic survival themes, I couldn’t wait to give this one a try, and it exceeded all of my expectations.
The Story, The Combat, The Drama
The story here isn’t anything exceptionally stand-out. I’ll admit that in the beginning it just felt like a routine introduction into a dystopian, Sci-Fi world, with lots of warring factions, unbalanced classes, and a huge gap between “normal” people and some seedy, underworld dwellers. In this case, the underworld dwellers are known as the Mutants, who become increasingly present as you go along. The voice acting is passable, and the dialog is decent, though it isn’t the initial story that’s going to hook Technomancer players – it’s the combat system, and how satisfying it is.
Technomancer does combat exceedingly well, and I would be hard-pressed to name another recent title that I have played that offers as much as this one. The combat, at least when playing on Easy, is smooth, enjoyable, and exciting. There are fluid transitions between combat styles, and the slow-motion camera was never obnoxious or distracting, unlike in so many other Action games. As someone who rarely sticks with a title simply for its combat enjoyment level, I was shocked with how much I enjoyed Technomancer's combat; I will play, again and again, because it’s simply fun to be a magic-wielding, cyberpunk military assassin, dodging, weaving, and countering enemy attacks. It pairs beautifully with a compelling, clean landscape, cities that are easy to traverse, and the Mars environment that the Spiders team was apparently going for. Truly, it’s absolutely addictive.
Let’s Talk About Combat Styles
I love a game that allows me to choose my preference in combat tactics, especially if I can switch back and forth depending on the obstacle. Technomancer completely nails this task, and you can choose between three primary combat styles, plus level-up of your Technomancy (magic) skill as well. There’s a fast, highly mobile, sneaky Rogue style, a standard Sword-and-Board shield and mace combination, and a Quarterstaff that is fantastic when you have multiple opponents. You can switch between these at any time, plus use your magic abilities in conjunction with them, though each of the four is leveled up separately. Certain skills that you pick up in each tree path have a secondary choice, and you can only spend a point in one or the other. For example, you can increase your critical hit or disruption chances. It’s extremely well done and certainly lends to replay value as well.
Quests, Consequences, and Customization
Questing in Technomancer follows the usual format of RPGs: The main storyline, plus side missions that you can opt-in or out of at your leisure. Although I loved the mini map overlay for navigating the city areas, I found that their system for quest markers took longer for me to decipher than usual, and the tracking journal leaves much to be desired. Repeatedly, I found myself going back to try and figure out exactly what I was doing, who I needed to talk to, and what extra items were required to complete the mission. It didn’t diminish my enthusiasm too much, but a few adjustments would make this aspect of the game much easier to navigate. As it stands, I docked a point off of the score because this was such a persistent bit of annoyance for me.
I love that this title offers very real consequences for your choices along the way, in addition to complications based on your character customization and leveling-up process. Early on, I was on a mission to get the Mutants back to work, and because I hadn’t leveled up Science or Crafting yet, I was unable to choose the non-aggressive forms of persuasion. On top of that, my 50% chance to succeed at my charisma check proved to be too difficult, so I failed in that avenue as well, leaving me no choice but to be an epic level jerk to these workers and lose Mutant Reputation via combat. However, instead of being frustrated, I just accepted that my personal preference for stealth and rogue-like areas of expertise were a legitimate hindrance in social interactions – it’s totally believable. Furthermore, I really liked that my path of development had a real-world impact here on Mars.
In a very typical Action-RPG manner, Technomancer incorporates NPC minions that you, as the player, have control over. This means that you can go in and equip them with better gear, adjust their combat response, and even see your reputation score with both. I was able to let one of my guys plan a mission early on, in apprehending a spy, and since we succeeded in doing so, I saw a marked improvement in our relationship. I was concerned that, when I first gained these NPCs, it would turn into a tedious task of managing them; much to my surprise, it was something I could mostly ignore, leaving them to assist me in combat and occasionally looking at their gear. Granted, I made the decision to play on the Easy difficulty setting, so I would venture a guess that on harder choices these NPCs would need to be monitored and developed with a bit more care than I showed. For the most part, I just ignored them, letting them help out in combat, although I didn’t need it.
Technomancer is utterly fantastic, even if it does have a few minor kinks that need to be worked out. I really can’t say enough good things about this game. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants some wicked fun, totally satisfying combat, a clever leveling-up system with full customization, a decent story, and a convincing landscape. The difficulty level scales as you increase from Easy and up, so if you find combat feeling more frustrating than you’d like I recommend knocking it down a level or two. The baseline keeps it challenging enough to feel accomplished but not so much as to reach epic levels of frustration.
The graphics and soundtrack here aren’t anything revolutionary, but they certainly get the job done. I never encountered any of the bugs and glitches that so many new titles are riddled with. In the end, it’s a fun trek to Mars, exploring a post-apocalyptic world with plenty of options on how you want to play, and what you want your choices to be.