Originally posted by Michael Hoglund
There’s a type of game which exists between the realms of AAA and indie titles. Where big name executives have their people sticking to similar mechanics across game series A, B, and C. Where indie developers lack the manpower to become noticed without some sort of breakthrough idea. Technomancer is a title that finds itself between – lacking the polish of a AAA title, but can take a chance on creating something without the likes of Master Chief, or the Animus to back it. While Technomancer may the indirect sequel to Mars: War Logs from 2013, Spiders gets a chance to do things a little differently than most others.
Your name is Zachariah Mancer, a Technomancer for the army of Abundance. Sworn to fight for your city, my version of Zachariah has the same name and gender as everyone else’s, but a few customization options exist. A standard allotment of facial options are at your disposal to create a Technomancer worth playing with. Zach is stuck as his alliances between his Technomancer brethren, and the army of Abundance are put to the test. Each group wanting the player to carry out specific missions that further the cause of their group alone. This all comes while being tasked to protect the Technomancers most sacred secret.
During your adventures, you’ll have to deal with a varying degree of voice acting. Some characters push it to near record high cringe levels as they display Shakespeare-like emotion, while others turn in something a bit more believable. Our main character suffers from the former; giving off a hero vibe that tries to turn the parody of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon into the real deal. Then again, once you meet the Grand Master, you might understand where he gets it from. The same character who I thought was evil and only pretending to be a good guy because of his voice acting.
Thankfully, the good actors outweigh the bad, as you’ll do quite a lot of talking while questing across Mars. Between your standard retrieval missions, and, “Go to point A to kill guy X,” there’s a nice variety of things you’ll do. While nothing may be as memorable as the 2015 game of the year Witcher 3, you’ll at least be thankful Spiders only created one or two escort missions. Which, I’m not even entirely sure your escortee could die.
Various factions exist within the various cities you’ll travel between, each having their own level of reputation Zachariah has an affect on. Do something that hurts the Vory, then you’ll lose standing with the Vory – pretty standard stuff, but it’s something you’ll want to keep an eye on none-the-less. As it is beneficial to stay in the green. Party members also benefit from this system; gaining reputation with them is as easy as a compliment, or pursing one of their side missions if you choose to do so.
While the story comes across as standard and forgettable, the scenery in which the tale told is fantastic. From monumental government structures, to ramshackle cities, Technomancer blew me away with a greater level of diversity than I thought was possible for a planet like Mars. Sure, there’s still the standard insipid red of the planet, but everything else sure is pretty.
How do you make red better? Paint it with more red. The combat for Technomancer is actually rather deep in comparison to what some other games have brought to the table in the last few years. There are three different combat styles to choose from; the warrior stance which uses a staff, the guardian stance wields a mace and shield, and the rogue stance carries a dagger and pistol. Each has an area in which it excels, taking on multiple enemies at once, defending against attacks, or all out obliteration.
Mixing in with these three are the technomancy powers. A set of both offensive and defensive skills are at your disposal if you choose to level them. One such ability causes massive electrical damage in an area, one-shotting most lower level enemies in the game when coupled with multiple damage bonuses. Towards the end of the game, I was clearly a little overpowered, but that didn’t stifle my enjoyment from one engagement to the next.
A lot of your combat prowess will come from the gear you’ll collect. Your basic gear types are there; boots, gloves, weapons, chest items, and head pieces. Almost every piece of gear can upgraded with one to three different craftable expansions. The level of boost you’ll receive from them will depend entirely on your level of crafting expertise, as well as the upgrade plans you’ve acquired.
Some of your Zachariah accessories won’t be equipable unless you’ve leveled up a bit. Carrying power, strength, and agility restrictions; the three of which help develop your damage output in different areas of combat. Equal in importance is the upgrade tree; almost every level increase will give your character another point to spend on one of the three stances or technomancy. It’s obviously better to stick to one or two areas. As of writing this review, I have yet to come across an NPC or item which allows you to reroll your characters skills. So choose wisely.
Onto the casual technical analysis of the game. Playing on PC, I was able to obtain a steady 60 frames per second with settings maxed at 1080p. Turning down both SSAO and shadow quality from ultra to high shot the frame rate up to 90 at 1440p. The hardware of the computer used included an overclocked i7-6700k at 4.5Ghz, a Fury X GPU, an EVO 850 SSD, and 16GB RAM. Unfortunately, I was unable to test at 4k due to HDMI cable failure.
The Technomancer won’t be winning any game of the year awards, as it’s not in the same league as Fallout 4 or Witcher 3. However, what’s there is worth celebrating. Especially at the price of around £34/$45. RPG fans that are looking to dive into a fresh new world filled with some disastrously funny acting, entertaining combat, and serviceable quests will love Technomancer.