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Game Info:

The Technomancer 
Developed By: Spiders
Published By: Focus Home Interaction
Released: June 28, 2016
Available On: Microsoft Windows, PS4 and Xbox One
Genre: RPG, sci-fi, action, open world
ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence)
Number of Players: 1 offline 
Price: $44.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Focus Home Interactive for sending us this game to review!

The Technomancer is a sci-fi action RPG set in a dystopian colony on Mars several hundred years in the future.  You play as Zachariah Mancer, who grew up in the harshest parts of the colony, at a time he is being initiated into a secretive group with special electrical powers known as The Technomancers. Society has once again adopted naming its citizens surnames based on their trade.  Zachariah’s last name, Mancer, was given after becoming a Technomancer.  Corporation loyalty is important.  On Mars, the majority of the people are brought up by the Corporation they are born into and where their family lives.  Those who seek to leave these corporations are considered traitors.  Life on Mars is harsh; the corporations are at war with each other and life has little value to those higher up in societal.

There is a steep learning curve for the normal difficulty level.  The developers patched the easy difficulty after release, to reduce the difficulty further.  I opted for the normal difficulty, before realising just how difficult it was and have stuck with it.  I have died many times and how you level up your character can make it easier earlier on, if you know what you are doing.  For those who don’t then it’s an exercise in frustration as you try to learn which skills are the most beneficial early on in the game.  In the first 5 hours I died countless times and learned it’s best to quick save before entering combat as relying on the auto save will put you further back than you’d like.

Once you get to level 20 you start to feel more useful in combat as you increase your range of abilities and actions, yet Zachariah has a glass jaw when compared to the early enemies encountered throughout his travels.  A few unlucky hits and you are down, while enemies feel over tanked, soaking up damage effortlessly.  

Each time you level up you get to invest skill points in skills, talents or attributes.  The skill tree is for combat abilities and broken down into four areas.  One for the three stances you can change to, providing different offensive and defensive actions and the technomancy skill to improve your electrical attacks and abilities.   Talents provide new abilities, picking locks, creating health and focus injections, making high level upgrades, etc.  Attributes increase the amount of damage you do, increasing your resistance to damage received, increasing the chance of making critical hits and to be able to wear certain equipment.

The Technomancer
Highlights:

Strong Points: Open world; music and sound effects
Weak Points: Game difficulty; uninspiring dialogue and art design; confusing game mechanics
Moral Warnings: There is a significant amount of swearing in the dialogue (i.e. f*ck, sh*t, as*hole).  The game centres on violence against enemy thugs, soldiers and monsters.  It also includes sexual material including prostitutes soliciting customers and fully clothed characters straddling or rubbing each other.

Zachariah is not alone on his travels.  As we progress through the game we are introduced to other characters that are added to a roster to create a three member team.  Each character has different abilities, which can be used to supplement Zachariah’s own skills.  For example, Scott, who you meet at the start of a game, is a medic and has a gun which can be used to inject health back into the party members when shot.  You can change and upgrade each character’s weapons and clothing to increase resistance to damage, knockbacks, poisoning and several other areas.

A karma system is used.  I have to be honest, after playing for 20+ hours I have no idea what affect this has on the player.  Though some googling suggests it has an effect on your team member actions during cut scenes.  There is also a reputation system, for the various factions in the game.  Once again, I have not been able to discern how this works.  Perhaps doing a second playthrough with a change of play style would shed some light on it, though given the time of investment required it was just not feasible to do for this review.

With the storyline, The Technomancer starts off strong.  Within the first hour you battle a giant monster which adds to the excitement and anticipation of the game.  Then the all too familiar basic quests come in, requiring you to do a lot of back tracking with uninspiring dialogue and cut scenes, which could have been improved to keep the momentum gained in the opening.  A lot of the conversation starts with Zachariah being very polite and saying “Hi” each time, which gets repetitive fast in a video game.

Controls are simple to understand, yet are complex when mixed with different combat styles and an action wheel that slows down the speed of the game in combat.  This allows you to activate character abilities and consumable items.  The problem with these is that each action requires an animation to be performed before the actual action happens and they can be interrupted when attacked.  This makes activating abilities and potions difficult early on in the game, when you need them most, as you are generally mobbed by groups of enemies.  

Choosing the best combat stance can be a trial and error affair at times.  Then, when the only style is Guardian, can prolong combat far too long.  I have come across many encounters where a single stance stands out as being the winning choice; even then it was from trial and error and cannot necessarily be applied to the next engagement.  It sounds like it’s a bad thing; on the plus it’s not repetitive which is good.  It just would be nice if trial and error was less of an issue, removing the harsh punishment for a simple mistake.

The Technomancer
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6/10

The art direction for The Technomancer is mostly lacklustre.  There is a reason and a theme for each area, though when the opening areas are all lustreless it leaves the player feeling uninspired by the world.  The textures and 3D models along with level layouts are good, though may not stand up to other AAA games released around the same time.  If anything, just more polish and some artistic variety in colour could have improved the overall feeling.

I found the sound to be great and it does stand out when you are in combat.  There are solid impact sounds for melee combat.  When technomancers use their electrical powers, there are satisfying explosions of energy and crackles as the energy disperses.  Each gun has a meaty pop when fired.  It just makes combat feel as deadly as it really is.  The music is also well made and compliments the theme and locales you visit.

There is a huge amount of profanity throughout the game in cut scenes and in dialogue with a vast amount of character.  In the 20+ hours I have played, including the side missions, I did not witness any blasphemy.  Though that does not necessarily mean there is none all together.  The game centres on violence against humans and monsters, with very little to no options to avoid it unless it’s part of a dialogue choice, in keeping with the setting.  

At the start of the game, your mentor talks about the value of life and while you are in combat you effectively beat your human opponents into unconsciousness.  After which, you have the option to outright kill and loot some currency from them.  There are also some dialogue choices in which you can encourage or discourage party members from performing an action, i.e. killing someone or letting them go free.  While some missions task you with killing there is an alternative conclusion to avoid doing just that while effectively accomplishing the objective (just not in the way the quest giver wanted you to).

The game includes some sexual material.  Prostitutes appear in some locations, soliciting customers.  There are cutscenes depicting fully clothed characters straddling or caressing each other in bed.  There are also references to drugs in the game with some missions involving acquisition for others.

If you enjoy RPGs with a sci-fi setting then The Technomancer may be worth getting.  However, if you are looking for another Mass Effect this is not for you.  There are many hours to be spent in The Technomancer; the main question you want to ask yourself is “will I be getting anything meaningful by investing my time in this experience?”  The answer to that is most likely “very little.”

- centaurianmudpig (@themudpig)

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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