Mars has long since been colonized. Don't think that makes it a safe place, though.
Technomancer is a unique RPG set in the far future of Mars that has you playing Zach, a young warrior-wizard. During your travels you will have to make a name for yourself as a Technomancer, navigate tricky factions, protect your colony, and keep from getting killed in the process. With a great battle system and some access to customization, it's worth a second look. Keep reading for all the intergalactic details.
Take a peek into what Mars will become
Technomancer isn't a AAA title, and that's pretty obvious as soon as you see the game in action. It doesn't quite have the flawless graphics that you have probably come to expect from a top tier game. That being said, it isn't an ugly game by any stretch of the imagination. You'll move from ancient ruins on Mars to the colony of Abundance, and just about everywhere in between.
While the graphics won't steal your breath away, it's still very well put together. Each environment looks huge when you first get to it and lends atmosphere to the area you are in. The first set of ruins you encounter are wide open, and you can see sunlight streaming in from the top of the great dome which gives it a lazy feel, as though it has stood for thousands of years and will continue to do so.
Comparatively, the colony of Abundance is done in varying shades of gray. It looks, and feels almost devoid of hope. Here you'll find propaganda posters on the wall, beggars slouched into corners, and boxes stacked haphazardly. It has a seriously totalitarian feel that sets the mood for what's going on within the colony.
There is plenty to explore too, with various nooks and cranny's filled with treasure, caravans, or citizens that you can speak to. These aren't small environments either. Each one that I've come across has been huge and filled with bits and pieces that make sure While Technomancer may not have had the budget to bring jaw-dropping visuals, it's clear that they put time into figuring out the best way to get the atmosphere of each environment across. Even without some absolute top of the line imagery, they deliver graphics that draw you into the story more with each frame.
Warrior and Wizard create the Technomancer
The Story follows our main character, Zach, who is a Technomancer-in-training. The game opens up as he is headed to initiation rite that will turn him into a fully fledged Technomancer, a wizard-warrior. Essentially Technomancers have the ability to wield damaging electrical energy. It's enhanced by their implants but requires an innate ability, which is probably why they're raised into Technomancy from a young age.
Zach resides in the corporate colony of Abundance, which is located on Mars. It's been a few thousand years since the colonization, so there is quite a bit of...decay that is apparent. The initiation rite is held within one of the great domes, where the original colonists lived when they were first getting to Mars. It's filled with tiny details, like the scores of books on shelves, or the level where trees grow to provide oxygen.
Once you're inside, you learn of just how the Technomancers came to their power, and why they protect these domes so fiercely from outside intrusions. I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but suffice to say it's a big enough secret that it could undo the Technomancers if it became common knowledge.
After you get back to the colony and become a Technomancer, is when the plot starts to thicken. You'll meet members of the different factions, and their feelings towards you will change depending on what courses of action you take when dealing with them. You'll have to decide who to trust, who to believe, and who to kill.
Plenty to do here
A lot is going on within Technomancer, so don't be surprised if it takes you a little while to get used to everything. This includes some customizations, like what Zach looks like, and how he fights or uses Technomancy. Thankfully, there aren't any bugs that I managed to find while playing but this isn't necessarily an easy game. That's a good thing, though.
At the onset of gameplay, you'll get to decide what Zach looks like. There aren't unlimited options, namely your name and gender are stuck in stone. There are a good number of different facial configurations to play with here like eye and hair color, skin tone, and facial features. After you've got Zach set up the way you want him to look, it's time to get started.
Before you head out of the colony, you'll be able to try out each of the different stances for fighting. Battle gets broken up into two core principles; melee and technomancy. Each stance, along with Technomancy, gets it's own skill tree that you'll be able to fill in as you level up.
When it comes to fighting hand to hand, you can choose between the Rogue stance (dagger and pistol), Warrior stance (staff and kicking) or Guardian stance (mace and shield). Each one has its pros and cons, but that's fairly expected. You can try out all of them before you leave the colony, and you can always choose between them while fighting in the field.
You'll quickly realize just how large each area in the game is, and be checking your map regularly. While you're running around in the world, a minimap will display on the bottom right of your screen. If you want a slightly more in-depth look, you'll get a transparent pop up that can help make sure you're headed in the right direction by holding down the right trigger. If, and when you get truly lost, you can always pull up the full map from your menu.
Your menu is where you'll find all the in-game information that you need. It lets you access your equipment, bag, skills, talents, attributes, stats, journal, local map, and the world map. Each one of these sections has stuff in it that you're going to need to deal with.
Your equipment covers your armor and weapons. This is where you can equip new items or double check that other members of your party are properly equipped for whatever quest you are pursuing at the moment. Your bag is where all of your health items, components, and quest items live. Keep in mind that everything you carry does have weight, and eventually, this makes a difference. Nobody wants to be over encumbered.
Skills, Talents, and Attributes are all attached to ability trees. Skill points are used to gain new abilities in each of the three fighting stances, or in Technomancy. Talents give you points toward specific skills like lock picking, charisma, and crafting. Attributes allow you to level up your strength, agility, power, or constitution. You receive points when you level up, but it's generally only one point and has to be used on a specific tree. This means that you'll want to consider carefully what skills you want to upgrade.
Your stats will show you how well you are doing in different areas. This includes how factions around Mars view you, your damage stats with each melee stance, how effective consumables are, and a general overview of your character. The overview will also show how close you are to the next level, along with what your health and fluid points are at.
All of the quests that you pick up along your travels will show up in your journal. They are broken up into primary and secondary quests. Each quest will produce a marker on your map, along with a note in your journal that tells you what you are supposed to be doing. This might be hunting down information, or carefully escorting people to a location without them being killed by assassins.
While the gameplay isn't buggy, depending on how you play it can be quite difficult. Each stance is a bit different, and you'll figure out which one you like pretty quickly, but even then you'll probably end up replaying chunks of missions that include combat until you've decided which stance works best for you. I tended towards the rogue, but that meant that I was dealing with doing less damage than the other stances.
You can upgrade your weapons and armor, though, which is where components come in. You'll find all sorts of random stuff in the game, like leather or metal pieces. These components are then used at tool benches, to upgrade existing armor and weapons. Different items will have different numbers of upgrade slots.
One of the things that have been particularly awesome in Technomancer was the dialogue system. As you put skills into various trees, new dialogue options will become available that can seriously change the game. Each additional dialogue option has a percentage chance of working or not, depending on the skill it's attached to. While you can smash your way through much of the game, this leaves an option for those who prefer a slightly more diplomatic route.
While there are roughly a ton of moving parts involved in Technomancer, the gameplay is fun...until it becomes frustrating. The auto-save feature means that at times you may wind up in a situation involving plenty of enemies and not enough health. That should be old hat for most gamers by now, least those who play RPGs. Overall the gameplay is fun, without being absolutely fantastic.
Technomancer is a game that makes you take the idea of a wizard-warrior on Mars seriously, and enjoy doing it.
- Original story that draws you in
- Decent amount of customization
- Huge with tons to do
- Game can be difficult depending on fighting style
- Autosave function's timing can make for increased difficulty
- So many moving parts means it takes a while to get used to the game
Technomancer is a great RPG that isn't quite as good as it could be. The few small flaws that it has are outweighed by a fantastic story that will pull you in piece by piece. The story isn't something we've seen before, the gameplay is well done, and the graphics are all on spot. That's why we've given Technomancer three and a half stars. It's available now for $59.99 on the Xbox Store.
This review was conducted on Xbox One using a copy provided by the publisher.