The Technomancer is a new story set in the Mars: War Logs universe following a technomancer named Zachariah. Newly minted among the ranks, Zachariah is capable of both potent electrical attacks and bone-crushing martial skills. His journey begins after he is marked a traitor and is chased down by the secret police. The Technomancer is a full featured action RPG, complete with a skill-focused melee combat, a deep crafting system, and a full roster of companions.
Zachariah is a young initiate who was picked up from the slums and trained to become a technomancer as a child. The Technomancer starts off with Zachariah and his master Sean Mancer preparing for Zachariah’s final mission as a student, marking his initiation as a full member of the technomancer order. Players are soon introduced to the secret of the order: the technomancer’s electrical ability is a mutation. As mutants are considered to be sub-humans and are treated accordingly, the technomancers must maintain secrecy to keep their respected position in Martian society. Soon after Zachariah’s initiation, he becomes caught in between the Abundance corporation that he works for and the technomancer order that serve.
The world The Technomancer is well fleshed out and quite fascinating. It serves as an excellent backdrop to the game’s plot. The game’s story is decent, though a bit predictable at times. The NPCs tend to be a bit one dimensional, but I found myself growing quite fond of many of them over the course of the game. The dialogue is written well for the most part, though there are moments where the dialogue is very B-movie like.
The Technomancer is an action RPG with combat focused on melee brawls. Zachariah has four skill trees, one for his electrical skills and one of each of his three melee styles. The guardian style is designed for defensive play with its sword and shield, warrior focuses on controlling the flow of battle with its area and stumble attacks, and rogue mixes fast, acrobatic attacks with a dagger with a deadly ranged pistol. The electrical skills are designed to augment all three melee styles, making it an incredibly potent tool in Zachariah’s skill set. While Spiders seems to encourage players to be well rounded, I found specializing in one fighting style and the technomancer abilities to be a perfectly valid tactic. While the game may lack true classes, Spiders still has provided players a way to choose a playstyle that fits them while still staying true to technomancer lore.
Combat is a fast and furious mix of melee brawling, spell casting, and item use. There are three basic attacks: a fast attack, slow attack, and a special ability. Dodging plays a major role in combat, as health is extremely limited and health potions are extremely costly in both money and materials. While there is some bonus for dodging just at the right time, there is little punishment for spamming dodges. To make matters worse, non-human characters do a pretty awful job of telegraphing their upcoming attacks, which makes the melee combat feel a bit clunky. The lack of any real combo system makes combat further encourages action spamming and makes combat quite repetitive.
The game does have a basic stealth system, but I feel it is incredibly underpowered in the early game. Stealth requires all three points to become a viable build. Until then, stealth attacks are simply an extremely expensive opening attack. The rest of the talent tree is a little more interesting, as single points in things like charisma and science can open up a world of options that lets players solve many of the game’s conflicts without resorting to violence.
The crafting system is something fresh. Instead of the standard loot grind for ever better equipment, The Technomancer opts to focus on upgrading equipment over the constant replacement of gear. Many of the best items have upgrade slots that not only change the appearance of the item, but add important bonuses needed for different builds. While not wildly different from the standard item system found in most RPGs, it is different enough to set it apart from other games.
The AI is pretty simplistic in The Technomancer. Enemies try to mob the closest target for the most part and will immediately run away if the player exits a pre-determined combat area. Companion AI are equally as dumb and simply serve to soak up incoming damage.
Like any good RPG, there is a morality and reputation system in The Technomancer. The reputation system is straight forward enough, do things to make a group like you and your standing improves. Of course not everyone will always agree with Zachariah’s actions, so a gain in standings with one group may lead to a loss of standing with the other. The morality system is a little more annoying. Like any RPG, some decisions will affect a player’s karma rating. Additionally, the technomancer order is very strict about the sanctity of life, opting for a Batman-esque solution of just knocking everyone unconscious. When enemies are unconscious, Zachariah is given an option of killing a human enemy and draining them of their serum, the standard currency on Mars. The moral decisions are unfortunately a pretty black and white affair, lacking the moral ambiguities of real life. Both systems tie in with the companion system. As Zachariah moves through the world, his actions can improve or worsen his relationships with his companions, leading to new quests or the exit of his teammates.
The controls in The Technomancer are solid. The console controls are well laid out. On PC, players are given the choice between controller or mouse and keyboard. The PC controls are equally well thought out and make proper use of the larger number of keys available. I have one minor quibble with the controls when interacting with dead bodies on PC. The button to loot an unconscious enemy with items is the same button used to kill an unconscious enemy with no loot. This can lead to accidental deaths, which is absolutely annoying for those of us attempting to keep karma loss to an absolute minimum.
The Technomancer is a pretty good looking game. While it may not feature bleeding edge graphics, the game’s graphics still hold up really well. The visual design of Mars is a great mix of rich sci-fi zones and poor post-apocalyptic slums. The creature design is particularly impressive, taking inspirations from Earth’s creatures and mutating them in imaginative ways.
The Technomancer delivers a decent, though forgettable audio experience. The sound effects and soundtrack are good, but they never really go above and beyond to stand out. The voice acting is a bit weaker, with many voice actors sounding like they stepped out of a B movie. Zachariah’s voice actor definitely delivers the best performance of all the actors, but still has his share of weakly delivered lines.
The Technomancer is a decent game and an excellent step forward from Mars: War Logs, but the series still has ways to go before it enters AAA territory. The game boasts an interesting world, though the characters are a bit on the shallow side. Spiders’ take on the standard RPG crafting and class systems is neat; however, the game really struggles with repetitive combat. While The Technomancer might be a bit rough around the edges, it is still a solid action RPG.
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