The lure of a new RPG is often irresistible. A large open world to explore, a plethora of characters to get acquainted with and even romance, being presented with decisions that will change the outcome of the story; there are so many good things an RPG can offer. The Technomancer is a new role play style game from developer Spiders, the creators of Bound by Flame, and has all of the aforementioned action aspects that you’d expect and more. With a story full of controversy, and a whole bunch of main and side quests to accompany this, why does The Technomancer not quite hit the mark, and actually miss it by quite some way?
The Technomancer: PlayStation 4, Xbox One [Reviewed], PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 28 June 2016
Price: £44.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
The story here is nothing mind-blowing, but should just about do enough to hold your attention throughout the ensuing hours of play. You take on the role of Zachariah, a protector of the people and a technomancer; a fighter with a special power that essentially gives you control over electricity and allows you to attack enemies with this. What starts off as fairly tedious fetch quests mixed with elimination quests quickly turns into something more sinister with the story becoming somewhat more exciting by the end of the first chapter. Without spoiling anything too much, be prepared for the usual attempted murder and betrayal that seems to go hand in hand with this kind of genre.
As mentioned earlier, most of your quests will consist of coming and going in the same areas, performing various tedious tasks for people. Be it, taking an item to a loved one, scaring off some bad guys or searching for missing family members, you might find yourself simply skipping dialogue and running back and forth as quick as possible in order to get the quests done. If there is one good thing to come from completing said quests it’s that a large percentage of them have multiple outcomes, and depending on which you choose, your morale, karma and reputation with various factions will either rise or lower. This then follows through with you later on in the story, with certain people either on your side or not while NPCs may bring up past quest choices during conversations. Feeling like your choices actually make a difference meant that partaking in each quest actually affected the story, rather than just aimlessly running around in an endless hunt for XP.
When you first take control of Zachariah, you have a few customisation options including hair and skin. Apart from that, you’ll get the choice to choose your starting talent and attributes. These include charisma and science, which improve your chances of persuasion and ability to perform specific interactions with various objects. Again, there is nothing particularly new on offer here, the game has simply introduced the same RPG elements we would have expected anyway. You’ve also got the expected attributes like strength and constitution, and you’ll be able to upgrade these every time you gain a level. Level progression in The Technomancer feels like it’s done at a steady pace, and you will be able to improve your character in a timely manner that reflects the difficulty of the game, for the most part.
One of the areas where difficulty appears to play a huge problem is with the combat. Even though you have a choice of difficulty at the start of the game, the fighting seems particularly unbalanced. Where you might be struggling against one enemy over and over, you could then move to the next fight and breeze through it. A lot of the fights are generally a struggle to get through, and this is mainly because there seems to be no consistency with the difficulty of the fights. Luck will also play a large part in how your fights play out, depending on how the enemies attack and how your companions help you out. This alone may be enough to put people off the game, and I’ll admit it had me shouting at the screen and even turning off the game in frustration a couple of times. Unfortunately, persevering with the game and its annoying fights doesn’t quite give you that feeling of satisfaction and reward that you’d hope to feel.
The Technomancer’s combat tries to be varied but feels like it offers you a little too much choice in how to fight. You have 3 stances to choose from when you enter a fight; rogue, guardian and warrior. On top of these, you also have technomancer skills that you can use against your enemies as well. Trying to combine all of these elements together to fight enemies, accompanied by a pathetic dodge and awkward camera angles means fights are even more annoying to complete on top of the difficulty problems. Each stance has its own way of attack, with guardian using a staff, warrior having a sword and shield, and rogue using knives and a gun. Figuring out which of these stances suits you best, or is best for the fight at hand, is a real problem, with no one individual stance standing out above the others. Fighting in The Technomancer’s as a whole also feels very slow and clunky, and your character’s movements may not match the timing or your button pressing. The ability to pause mid-fight to use healing items and abilities is a welcome addition but still doesn’t take away from the large problems you’ll encounter with the fights.
The game also looks fairly unimpressive, and wouldn’t be out of place had it been released a few years ago on the Xbox 360. Movement is fairly unnatural and conversations seem very awkward. The graphics and overall look of The Technomancer, including character faces and animations aren’t up to scratch for a game released in 2016. The landscapes and environments you explore, even though they can be open and vast, are largely dull and uninspiring to look at, you won’t be marveling at impressive towering buildings or mountains in this journey. The main problem with The Technomancer is that despite its potential and obvious RPG elements, it doesn’t quite seem polished or perfected.
The Technomancer started out with promise, sadly things went downhill all too quickly. Whilst the story might just about keep you interested, and there are some quests that you might get involved with, for the large part it will be struggling to keep your attention. The combat feels clunky and the difficulty largely unbalanced, leading to frequent frustration when you get stuck on the simplest of fights. You might easily forgive some of these things if the game was gorgeous to look at, but sadly it doesn’t live up to expectations in that department either, running past large areas of environment without even giving it a second look. The Technomancer might present players with a lot of the aspects and elements often found in a role-playing game, but it doesn’t bring them together in quite the right way, and really disappoints because of this.