The Technomancer Is A Bad Game That's Still Worth A Look

The Technomancer feels like a 90s RPG based on an 80s comic book.

It's not, of course. The game was released this month, and is not based on anything, instead being an entirely new property cobbled together by Spiders (which is the developer's name...this game was not made by spiders). But compared to the kind of thing we expect from an ambitious sci-fi adventure, something certainly feels off about it.

Reviews of this game (which this definitely is not) have not been kind, and I can understand why. This game is, for want of a kinder word, cheap. It's an action/RPG that's trying to be Mass Effect via The Witcher, but in most ways comes nowhere near either of them.

Character faces look dated. The music and sound are terrible. The writing and voice acting (or at least the localisation into English, since Spiders are French) are atrocious. Combat feels janky. If you were standing over the shoulder of someone else playing this you'd think this game was a disaster, especially since it's coming in as a full-price premium experience, not a cheap indie title.

And yet...there's something endearing about The Technomancer. It starts with that dumb-arse name and runs right through the story and art design to the scope of the whole project. This is the little RPG that could.

What many have found shortcomings will for others be something to get into. The art style, which is Red Faction meets Mad Max via David Lynch's Dune, at first looks generic, forgettable. And the voice acting, while enthusiastic, never seems to get anything quite right.

But the more you play/suffer through this, the more it somehow grows on you. The more you notice, for all the initial similarities this has with other games and its shortcomings in terms of presentation, there's a loveable French weirdness going on here. What first felt familiar soon starts to itch.

You know how for all their problems, people still loved Zeno Clash? And Vampire: Bloodlines? And even E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy? Yeah, this is like that. Just...watch this clip below. If you think this is good/corny enough for you to get into, know that this is the tone of pretty much the whole game.

Beyond the creative intangibles there's more stuff to acknowledge, if not always enjoy. Combat, while ultimately repetitive, is no worse than The Witcher 3's, and even trumps CD Projekt Red's efforts when it comes to truly customising your approach to combat (there are a number of distinct combat styles that you can focus on). And if you've ever found yourself complaining about the stuff missing from more contemporary RPGs, you may find some of what you're looking for here, because in your gear and skill upgrades there's a ton of tinkering to be had.

And by god, there's admiration here for what a small team have tried. This isn't a retro platformer, this is a big, complex thing, something that normally takes teams of hundreds (and budgets in the tens of millions) to pull off. It may not hit the highs it was aiming for, but the fact they got off the ground with this at all is impressive.

I'm not saying rush out and buy this today (this isn't a review!). I think its positioning as a $US40 ($54) title alongside games with much more polish has hurt its launch. What I'm saying is that this is a crazy game that, for all its flaws, is something you should maybe look into one day if you've played the first Mass Effect, older Witcher games or KOTOR and wondered why nobody makes games like that anymore, and maybe what would happen if someone tried. And failed. But failed memorably.


Comments

    The game was released this month, and is not based on anything, instead being an entirely new property cobbled together by Spiders
    It's the same universe as Mar: War Logs (2013), which was a decent little RPG. It too felt like a poor man's Mass Effect but was still a solid game.

    Probably would have been more appropriate as a review.

    I totally Disagree , I am loving the gruffness and the atmosphere of this game , I just hit level 15 Last night and am loving the story . Combat has its moments but once you learn how to mid switch styles in combat it is awesome.

    I give this Game 8.5 out of 10.

      You aren't a Spider in disguise by any chance? It's just that your English has a certain je ne sais quoi...

      Of course, I may be leaping to conclusions ;-)

      agree, this game is great and way underestimated.., just like "Bound by Flame"..

      its closer to a Dark Souls than a Mass Effect or atleast has way cooler action than any Bioware game .. and better characters / story than any Dark Souls or "the surge", by far

      need to get used to the controls first and nit rush in combat (+ accept a bit if level grinding, but with such great combat, shouldn't mind it)
      this game, as Bound by Flame, have gottem waay to harsh reviews due to the high "difficulty" setting (reviewer trying ti rush thru easy will be frustrated)

    The first Mass Effect and KOTOR 1 are my two favorite games in the history of the universe. Soooo.....I guess one man's trash is another man's treasure. Def going to pick this one up!

    P.S Red Facton, Mad Max, Dune? This game looks like nerd heaven. Watched the IGN review with the sound turned off and I already know this is going to be a 10 OUT OF 10 for me.

    Last edited 06/07/16 3:54 pm

      Mass Effect 1 was great and this looks silly and janky in exactly the right way. It's like the first Stalker game in that regard: broken in a weirdly lovable way.

      I'm picking this up soon.

    You say it wasnt based on anything. But if you have played their other game Mars: war logs.
    You will remember it involved technomancers. And if you have played mars or its re-skin Bound by Flame. You will probably see why the technomancer falls short. I finished Mars because i felt i had to. It was kinda fun but yes felt like it wasnt measuring up to other ganes in the same genre. I stopped playing Bound by Flame after i realised it was a reskin of Mars. Not a literal reskin (apart from skill system and menus ), but very much the same.

    As soon as you mentioned that it was French I could tell the composer was Oliver Deriviere (from Remember Me)! Hopefully the OST is just as good, even though I don't plan on playing the game.

      Wow, Remember Me had a great soundtrack! (and combat music as well)

      "The Music and sound are terrible" - Luke Plunkett.

      Yeah going to have to disagree with you on that one Luke.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqzym3UFAo

        Not sure why you downvoted me if you're agreeing!

    E.Y.E is nothing but a glorified Halflife 2 mod. Horrible game.

      E.Y.E. was a bizarre mishmash of game styles, cyberpunk grittiness and barely coherent story and mechanics.

      It was wonderful and broken in a million ways. I get how you could not like it, but I don't see how you could think it's just a glorified mod.

    I tried it for a few hours, then refunded it. I still have so many other games to play - and by the time I finish those, then this game should be cheaper and had a few patches/tweaks. Don't get me wrong, this is every bit good and bad at the same time - like their previous titles. It is a classic example of a game that needs atmosphere and story (which is has) to get players through - because the mechanics are sub-par.

      Mechanics are overrated. Hence why I prefer Mass Effect 1 to its sequels. Story, music, atmosphere, heart, the Vibe - games are ART and should be judged as such.

      I just saw a trailer on Gamespot for this game Scorn - it looks incredible. Can just imagine IGN giving it a 4 out 10 because it isn't AAA and play like Call of Duty....

    What is this obsession we have with qualitatively defining games simplistically in the title? Is it meant as a disclaimer for the author so they don't get shit on for liking something others don't or is it an attempt to develop a narrative that aids them in writing about the game? I just really don't get it, I find it REALLY hard to accurately define a game in a way that would matter to someone else; that would touch on their values as well as their education in media and games - which would be integral to their enjoyment. With all of these variables and the huge, subjective component of perceived game quality and enjoyment - how are we constantly defining games so easily, quickly and with such certainty? Is there something I'm missing?

    I mean, quality isn't always tied to my personal preference, anyone else's or the spectrum of unpredictable emotional response. So what, exactly enables people to adequately define these games as such and why would it be so important when the idea of what makes a good game is continually blurred by innovation and new structures and new mechanics? It just seems like, you can't really do that effectively with so little reasoning or argument - objectively define creative work from every perspective - simplified into a single sentence. It just feels insincere and makes me question what role narcissism may play in making continually simplistic assumptions, dramatizing them and subsequently recording and presenting your perspective as an objective definition. Wouldn't it be more productive for both review and discussion if perhaps the drama were toned down a little? I mean, we have to scaffold before we build - just seems more logical than jumping to dramatic conclusions with assumptions instead of reasoning.

    Last edited 07/07/16 10:27 am

    I think the biggest problem I see from the gameplay trailer is lack of fluid animation transition. The individual animations look alright but there's no flow between one and the next. The net effect is a janky and immersion-breaking game.

    the game is fantastic. 9/10 a large learning curve for average gamers

Join the discussion!