Review: The Technomancer (PS4)

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Title: The Technomancer
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (7.81 GB)
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Spiders
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
The Technomancer is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

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Gameplay:
The Technomancer is an alchemic mixture of ingredients borrowed from some of the best action-role-playing games in history. While aspects of Mass Effect, The Witcher, Dragon Age, and Skyrim are evident in influence, none of these individual pieces feels polished, making for a role-playing game with absolute great potential, despite poor execution.

You are cast in the role of Zachariah, a technomancer who is ready to join the somewhat secret force of peacekeepers on Mars. The red planet itself has become a Metropolis-like society, where the rich thrive on the surface while the poor struggle to survive below ground. Actually, the world-building is fantastic and creates a unique place worth exploring, with various unique environments and a story of discovery. However, you might need some patience to struggle through some of the less-than-perfect gameplay mechanics.

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You will spend a lot of your time on Mars fighting enemies, be they human counterpart antagonists or beasts. You are offered a number of classes to switch between, even within combat. Anything from a nimble rogue wielding a dagger in one hand and a gun in another, to a full technomancer complete with “spells” and a pistol for ranged combat, is available to you the moment you start your quest.

The trouble starts when you actually engage the enemy. It’s not necessarily a terrible combat system. It’s actually reminiscent of The Witcher in some ways, with enemies showing little mercy and no compunctions about charging all at once.

… persistence and timing yields results …
It’s just that the damage they cause, and I’m talking even the lil’ ones, is severe enough that every single battle was one for my life. And perhaps it should be, since I’m fighting in a savage environment. Still, it was difficult for me to consider my technomancy group anything but a bunch of pushovers.

Switching between classes definitely helped the situation, and I personally found the technomancer class to be pretty damned effective at damaging enemies from a distance before moving in for the kill. It’s a challenging combat system, but persistence and timing yields results here.

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Leveling your character opens up skill trees that pertain to each class. I felt like strengthening my technomancer skills, so I often applied points towards my abilities while dabbling into the rogue class for some speedy attacks since I needed to be in and out of combat range in order to avoid getting swarmed.

Additional help comes in the form of looting armor and goodies from fallen enemies. Technomancer offers a simple way of determining how one piece of armor compares to another, keeping your mind focused on the task at hand, and less on item management.

The game is an acquired taste. I could certainly see some folks being turned off by its less-than-perfect combat system, but I found myself getting better the more time I spent learning the class I was using.

… I’ve come to expect more from my $60 games …
Visuals:
While the character art and motion here was more akin to a game from a generation ago, the environment painted a both dismal and beautiful world that perhaps once held great beauty before we humans took over and mucked it all up. The range of environments, despite taking place on the same dead planet, are enough to save the otherwise weak visual performance of the characters.

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It’s not that the characters look bad, it’s just that I’ve come to expect more from my $60 games in terms of animation and polish, perhaps like a spoiled child, but it is my hard-earned cash that I’m parting with. Again, there is enough here to allow myself to be a bit forgiving. After all, not all role-playing games have Nathan Drake quality animation since more time is spent creating expansive worlds and characters.

… keeps it from achieving absolute greatness …
Audio:
Dialogue is hit or miss. While some performances sound genuine and convey an attempt to deliver and bring these characters to life, others left something to be desired. I’ve played some games with crappy dialogue, and this isn’t one of them. But it’s still far from perfection.

While I was initially disappointed by the music, I found myself enjoying it more as it brewed for a few hours. It just felt appropriate. Gone was the fanfare from more fantasy-styled games, and instead, a more electric take on the score had been put in place. What initially clashed with my own personal preference soon became part of the dismal environment and worked in tandem with the visuals.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

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Conclusion:
There was so much potential here. World-building created an environment that I enjoyed exploring, and my technomancer ability gave me a certain sense of importance as I traversed the game’s narrative. The lack of polish, both visually and gameplay-wise, is what keeps it from achieving absolute greatness, particularly at this price point.

But I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy my stay on Mars. This might not be the role-playing action game for everyone, but if you are looking for something to stay up late with, The Technomancer might fit the bill, so long as you don’t mind a steep combat system that keeps you constantly moving and a less than stellar performance that certainly moves the story along, but keeps you from fully committing to something for which a stronger game would keep you absolutely engrossed.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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  • Jbumi

    I’m really enjoying it. I like the stories of the subquests (as I’m wont to do, I do as many subs as possible before returning to the main quest) & the decisions you have to make. Since I don’t hear all that well anyway, I more read the dialogue than listen to it so I have no issue there. I’ve also never worried about graphics – I’m more interested in gameplay & story.

    I think Spiders have improved with each game they’ve made, & this one is no exception. The best compliment I can give a game is one I give here – I’m thinking about my options/strategy when I’m not playing.

    • Rey Barrera

      I agree. I didn’t dislike it, like some other reviewers. I absolutely loved the atmosphere. It wasn’t a perfect experience, but the combat never felt that it was about being “too hard”, rather something that you have to spend time learning. Like some games (The Witcher included), you reach a certain Zen moment, where you as a player, anticipate the combat and get better at it.

      • Jbumi

        I felt the same way. Every time I’ve died, I knew it was my fault. Just got to the point where I’ve lied to my commanding officer (for the first time – somehow I don’t think it’ll be the last)!! I’m really liking how this game plays!! 😃

  • Joshua Simpkins

    I can get behind this review score, Rey. I think you covered the game pretty well in your review. I did an unboxing of The Technomancer for PS4 on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested in watching.

    http://youtu.be/g_mv5VPoMoA

    • Rey Barrera

      Nice unboxing. I never got a chance to see the artwork behind the box (my review copy was digital). Thanks for reading!

      • Joshua Simpkins

        You provide this site with good PlayStation and games coverage. I appreciate your work.