I was hoping The Technomancer would help fill the void of another year gone by without Mass Effect Andromeda. Instead, it falls short, being nothing more than a tad bit entertaining.
The Technomancer casts you in the role of the titular space wizard, Zachariah Mancer. That’s your name and there’s no changing it. The character creation is extremely limited, only giving you access to a small selection of pre-made faces and a few tools to adjust minor features before you set out on your journey. It’s also worth noting that there is no option to play as a female lead which seems strange in this day and age.
Our story begins in the city of Ophir on the planet Mars. After doing some odd jobs around town for the city leaders, Zachariah learns that not everyone is as they appear. He quickly learns that he is being followed, then is subsequently betrayed by his own people. He flees town and heads to Noctis, where the game begins. Zachariah must find a beacon that will establish a connection between Mars and Earth. (Where’s a Hyper Loop when you need one?) The story has a few twists and turns, but you will likely see most of them coming from a mile away. The story is enjoyable enough to push forward but it’s not going be something you look back on fondly in a few weeks. The Technomancer‘s plot and characters are just not that interesting.
The action, on the other hand, is actually quite enjoyable. The game starts out with a tutorial showcasing each of the three different play styles and weapons; the warrior style uses a combat staff and focuses on area attacks, the guardian uses a mace and shield and promotes defense, while the rogue style employs a pistol/short sword combo and focuses on dealing focused damage. DO NOT SKIP THE TUTORIALS. I was eager to be on my journey and rushed through it, then had my ass handed to me repeatedly. Of the three options, I preferred the warrior style as it offered the best fighting animations.
The combat can be difficult at times and you will find yourself dodging and rolling the battlefield to stay alive. Zachariah can’t take much damage so the key to survival is avoiding major attacks. Even at normal difficulty I found myself dying quite a lot. This game is tough, especially the boss battles (which are incredibly fun). Combat takes skill; definitely a highlight of this otherwise bland game.
As you progress through the game you’ll earn levels and experience through combat, which will grant you new combat styles and technomancer powers. Every few levels you will be rewarded with points to spend on two other skill trees: attributes, which increase Zach’s stats like health, strength and agility; and talents, which are non-combat skills like lock picking and charisma.
You’ll find yourself fighting across the red planet, choosing to take part in or avoid random events like robberies or hostage situations. Unfortunately, these events are few and far between. This is an open world game, but unfortunately, it’s not an AAA open world game – the world is pretty dull. Every new area feels like more of the same. If you thought Fallout 4 was bland and ugly, then you’re really not going enjoy what’s on display here.
The voice acting and facial animations are abundantly bad. I haven’t seen anything like this in a long time. It was cringeworthy and made it hard it watch. Mouths don’t even remotely sync up with the dialogue at points. Oh, and nobody’s eyes move – it’s really creepy. Where it should be fun and campy, the game is overly dramatic. Seriously, don’t stare in anybody’s eyes. It will keep you up at night.
The overlying problem with the game is that it’s trying to do way too many things at once. Rather than focusing on one or two things, the wings of the game are spread far too wide. The morality system is totally busted and forgettable. Essentially the player has the ability to drain defeated enemies of serum (game currency), which kills them and costs you karma points – I didn’t know if I should be killing them or not. I didn’t know what serum points could buy me. Apparently not very much at all. It really had no effect on the overall game.
Also, why are they called Technomancers? At no point did I find myself manipulating technology. The powers seem limited to casting nothing more than weak lightning. It’s very similar to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. These guys should be called Force-mancers… ok maybe not. That’s a terrible name.
I completed The Technomancer‘s main story in about 20 hours, leaving most of the side quests. I most likely won’t go back and finish them (I still have the Witcher 3 Blood & Wine to complete) but those side quests would probably give you another five or so hours. There is also no new game+ option which is strange, shouldn’t your skill tree remain intact if you are brave enough to start again on the hardest difficulty setting?
I applaud a small gaming company like Spiders for trying to create an AAA open world RPG, however The Technomancer falls short. We’ve been so blessed with so many amazing games lately that it just can’t compete. It’s a decent game and will help you kill time while you wait for Mass Effect Andromeda, just don’t expect it to blow you away.