Spiders and Focus Home Interactive gave us a chance to check out the newly released RPG, The Technomancer, on PlayStation 4. Will it carve its own niche into the genre, or will it fall flat?
The Technomancer takes place on Mars as you take control of Zachariah, a new initiate into the Technomancer brotherhood, whose members have the power to channel and expel electricity from their bodies. Upon undergoing years of training with an assigned Master and proving that they can control their electrical powers, they are made into full Technomancers and sent to work as an officer in their corporate army.
The initiation test both promotes a trainee into a full Techomancer, as well as letting them in on a secret precious to the society that they cannot let the corporations know about. If they do leak this secret, then they will be treated as horrible as the mutants on the planet, and thus, part of the swearing in includes a solemn oath that he will protect this secret with his life.
After the initiation, Zachariah is assigned to serve as a Lieutenant in the city of Ophir’s army regimen, given several tasks by both the Captain and Great Master Technomancer. There are also side missions that players can do, which all have an effect on the story. Eventually, a chain of events occurs and Zachariah is forced to flee the city as a traitor.
This is when the story really opens up and becomes interesting, however it is a shame that it can take so long for this to happen, particularly since so many players will likely stop before this point.
In terms of gameplay, there is, as one would expect from a role-playing game, quite a bit to do in The Technomancer. We’ll start off with combat.
You have three different stances for combat, namely the Guardian, which utilizes a club and shield, the Rogue, which utilizes dagger and handgun, and the Warrior, which utilizes the signature Technomancer staff. You can swap between these stances at any time, which really opens up your combat options. Each stance has its own uses, and players are sure to prefer some over the others.
The options make combat interesting as you determine how best to approach a situation. Should you sneak up on the enemy and launch a sneak attack? Or should you perhaps plant several mines and lure the enemy into triggering them? Or should you do something else entirely? The sheer number of ways to approach combat can help the game continue to feel fresh.
Unfortunately, the controls aren’t always as responsive as one would like. I can’t count the number of times I began dodging and attempted to move back in, but the game thought I was still dodging back, or even another direction I didn’t press. Combat is also quite unforgiving, as enemies can dish out a great deal of damage. If you miss one dodge, disruption kick, or attack once too often, the AI can punish you soundly, and it may very well end in your demise. Even if you survive once, unless you can heal back to full health, you most likely won’t survive a second mistake. Honestly, I enjoyed the challenge, though some may find the combat to be a bit too unforgiving for their tastes. Thankfully, however, the save points in the game are rather forgiving, and you can save at any time, so you will likely get into the habit of saving after every encounter.
In terms of customization, there are also various skill trees that you can utilize, allowing you to customize how Zachariah plays. When you level, you gain a skill point that you can spend on a skill tree to gain warrior, technomancy, guardian, or rogue skills. Gain three levels and you gain an Attribute point that can be spent on strength, agility, technomancy, and constitution. Four levels nets you a Talent point that can increase your ability in charisma, science, stealth, lock-picking, crafting, or exploration.
This allows players to truly customize how they want to play Zachariah. You can go for more charisma in order to attempt to talk your way out of situations, or perhaps increase your lock-picking skills so you can open containers and get some better items, which are then utilized to craft better equipment.
The game also features a fatigue system, in which, if you don’t rest, you will become tired. This has some negative effects, including gaining less experience from combat, as well as making Zachariah move a bit more sluggishly and cause less damage when compared to how he handles himself when well rested.
I noted before that your choices in The Technomancer do matter, even if they do not appear to. Everything that you may do, particularly with regards to the side missions, will have some effect on how things play out. Not even doing a certain side mission, for instance, may cause a companion to leave and never return, or may even cause you to permanently lose all favor with a faction.
On that note, those hoping to do everything and become loved by everybody in this game are dreaming. Helping one faction will cause you to lose reputation with another. For example, if you help the opposition, your reputation with the army will decrease, while if you help gangsters, your reputation will decrease with… well, almost everybody. Those wanting to experience absolutely everything will need to play the game multiple times.
In terms of your relationships with the other characters, the romance options can feel a bit forced. Even stranger, they can suddenly put on the brakes in later chapters, causing some things to feel quite out of place. You can have a character hit on Zachariah, him ask a lot of personal questions, and then….. nothing until the next chapter, several hours later. It does honestly break up the immersion a bit, but not, perhaps, as much as some of the NPCs in the world as you explore, as you see people look like they’re talking and having a good time, but hear absolutely nothing aside from background music.
Roughly twenty hours in, the complexity of the characters truly becomes apparent, and you begin to care about various characters and factions. As with the story, it is quite disappointing that it takes this long, especially when many gamers will pass on it for this exact reason.
Graphics and sound
The Technomancer looks decent enough graphically, and the soundtrack can be nice for a good bit of the game. There are times that it plays some music that honestly doesn’t feel like it fits the situation, but, for the most part, it is a decent soundtrack.
The Technomancer tries to be a lot of things, and actually manages to be good at most, however it fails to excel in any one area. Those looking for a nice sci-fi RPG to play that can stomach the slow startup should enjoy the game quite a bit, as, once it gets its hooks into you, it doesn’t let go. Unfortunately, the slow startup means that those who lack the patience should probably stay away.
Final Score: 3.75/5