It’s a tough life on Mars.
Spiders Studio’s latest offering follows their recent trend for action RPG’s, this time being cast within a sci-fi setting much like their previous Mars: War Logs. The Spiders RPG’s have all had their flaws, but remain entertaining despite the obvious low budget that prevents them from reaching the heights of the triple A RPGs that players enjoy. The Technomancer, their latest title to land on PC, Xbox One and PS4, seems to be their most ambitious title so far, but still suffers from those very obvious budget limitations. With that taken into account however, The Technomancer is quite an interesting game, packed with some really good ideas.
Set some two hundred years after the colonization of Mars, players will be confronted by a war-torn red planet. The war of water is raging on as different factions and corporations struggle for control of the dwindling resource. Players will step into the boots of Zachariah, a new Technomancer under the control of Abundance, one of the larger factions vying for control. Technomancers are special beings who have been given the ability through implants to harness and use electrical abilities. Starting the game serving Abundance, the player will soon find themselves taking a different path and heading off on a mission that will change life on Mars for all involved. No pressure then…
Zachariah will not be taking this journey alone, however. Along the way, the player will gather companions around them. The companions are wide and varied, all bringing with them their own quests for the player to partake in as they explore the different locations on the red planet. One of the great ways that The Technomancer shines is through the players relationships with these companions. As the player makes various decisions through the game, the companions will change the way they feel about Zach, making it very obvious if they disagree with a decision and changing their approach to Zach accordingly. These consequences don’t just stop at the companions, with NPCs occasionally discussing events that the player may have been involved in, and multiple different endings to the main quest.
For the combat, there are three different classes in The Technomancer, each of which play a different way and offer different weapon sets. These traditional classes, which are known as stances, are not limited for the player, as is often the case, with Zach being able to switch between them at will. The Warrior stance equips Zach with a staff and is great for dealing with the multiple enemies that Zach will be facing. The Rogue stance gives the player a gun and knife, allowing for more ranged attacks and sneaking. Finally, there is the Guardian stance, which is all about getting up close and personal with a melee weapon and shield, offering a more defensive fighting style. Whichever of these stances is chosen, they can be bolstered with the Technomancy abilities that Zach can wield, adding a little electricity to the combat.
These stances, which can be freely swapped between, offer players plenty of different ways to approach an encounter. However, once combat begins, things don’t feel quite as smooth as would have been nice. There is a looseness to the controls that prevents the combat from being a slick demonstration of superior skill. It is also the case that the companion AI don’t always act as they should, and can often get in the way of the player. It is not too much of a problem, but something that is noticeable.
Different weapons, for both the player and their companions, will be found along the way that can further change up the combat, and a surprisingly simple crafting system will allow equipment and weapons to be tweaked and improved. The RPG components in The Technomancer are fairly deep, allowing the player to not only assign points into the different stances and Technomancy itself as they progress, giving the player a choice to specialise in a favoured stance or become a more all round hero, but there are also talents and the characters own attributes to improve or add to. Players are given many options through progression to build their character, and their team, in the direction they prefer to play as.
When it comes to the visuals, things are a bit of a let down. While there is plenty of variety in both enemies and destinations, the environmental textures are bland and muddy, and the character models are lacking in detail and expression. Considering this game is available on the current gen consoles, it looks much more like it belongs in the previous generation. This is perhaps where the budget limitations are most obvious. The soundtrack is not too bad, but nothing special, and the voicework is adequate.
The Technomancer’s main story is quite enjoyable, flowing well and offering some interesting twists and turns. playing through the main story will take the games length into double figure hours, but there is plenty more to do besides, with the various side quests pushing the game through to respectable RPG length.
The Technomancer is an action RPG with big ideas. It has a good story and an interesting setting, and is packed with some great systems. However, the last gen visuals and loose controls in combat do let the game down. That being said, Spiders have done a great job with a limited budget and The Technomancer is worth playing by any RPG fan.