After sitting down to watch the trailer for The Technomancer my excitement levels were high. Although I was about to settle into yet another RPG the premise of the Technomancers had me hoping for some unique, apart from the combat, it doesn’t seem to be the case. The Technomancer is developed by Spiders, who are famed for the title Bound by Flame – This is their first Xbox One title and their second attempt at a game based on Mars.
Mars has recent be colonised, you play as Zach, a rookie who is about to face his initiation test in order to become a true Technomancer. The Technomancers are soldiers with cybernetic implants that allow them harness destructive electrical powers, they have learnt to fight from an early age and are very much a formidable opponent.
The Initiation is a great introduction to the game, but just before that get a brief tutorial into the games combat system. There are three disciplines you can use, staff, blade/gun, and blade/shield. Each of the 3 styles has its own skill tree where you can improve your existing skills or gain new ones by allocating XP you earn during your adventure.
You won’t realise it at first, but believe me the combat is tough, even on normal difficulty. Before taking on a set of opponents it’s worth trying to work out numbers & weapon types before attacking. There are some excellent attacks that you can unlock as you level up. I found a lot of my battle involved a fair bit of trial and error. The staff is a great weapon that can cause some devastating attacks, but sometimes you are better of using a shield or gun to cause long range damage. Timing is everything to, dodging or parrying an attack at the right time gives you a perfect opportunity to cause some real damage to your enemies, it takes some practice but it’s well worth making time for it. Enemies range from other humans, to mutants and various other creatures. You’ll often find groups of enemies are supported by one larger opponent who can heal the smaller enemies and also produce devastating attacks if you get too close.
I was impressed with the control system, everything feels very intuitive despite the complexity of the menus, whether you are managing your inventory, navigating a map or assigning skills and attributes you are only a few button presses away from completing tasks. Whilst moving around the city holding RT brings up an overlay of your local map, which is useful for finding out where to go. Through your journal you can manage which quests to follow which makes things a lot easier.
You’ll eventually be assigned some companions to take along with during quests but they only seem to serve as a distraction, they aren’t the smartest partners to have, often taking on the strongest enemy early on and getting knocked out pretty quickly. Nobody dies in the Technomancer, unless you want them to that is. All emeries get knocked out, leaving you to search them or kill them earning extra Serum, but losing Karma points.
The better Karma you have the easier it is to sway people decisions in conversation trees, a lot of the dialogue is fairly forgettable, as are most of the characters but some of the quest in the game can be quite good. Alongside the main quests exploring the city will see you interact with various NPC’s and helping them with tasks. You’ll spend your time within different cities in Mars, the first city feels like the Citadel from Mass Effect, it’s very corporate with a dull colour palette. It’s interesting to city how the atmosphere changes when you visit the slums and even more so when you visit other cities later on in the game. I really liked how the game looked, some of the set pieces were excellent, although the game is slightly let down by the character models. There aren’t many customisation options when creating your character and it shows as you begin to see NPC’s that look just like you!
Generally the quests involve going to one area, then another, fighting someone or something then returning to base to claim your pay. It’s very much a tried and tested system that works well, but the lack of fast travel within the city begins to grate on you very early on, as the other cities become available you can fast travel between those, but it would make a big difference if you could move around quickly in the local areas. I quite enjoyed the timed quests, which added an extra layer of excitement to the game. The day/night cycle also affected when certain people were available to move quests along.
As you explore, you’ll find plenty of materials that can be used to craft weapons, as you earn more Serum you’ll be able to buy plans from the various merchants that allow you to enhance damage, critical hit cancel and more, making you even tougher in combat. Although the crafting system is fairly simple it isn’t explained very well, so one again you are left to trial and error.
I’m quite enjoying the overall story in the game, it’s a bit predictable but some of the few key characters keep you entertained. This isn’t the greatest game in the world, but it has been fairly enjoyable, indeed, if you are a fan of Mass Effect this could certainly be a stop gap until Andromda comes out. It clearly lends a lot from the series even down to the music.