Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
A few years ago, near the end of the last generation, Focus Home Interactive released an action-RPG developed by Spiders called Mars: War Logs. It was thoroughly unimpressive in every respect, and I'm quite certain the only reason I remember it is because I played/reviewed it.
Fast-forward to present day, and we have The Technomancer. Stop me if this sounds familiar: developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interactive, it's an action-RPG that's thoroughly unimpressive in every respect, and I'm quite certain that if I hadn't reviewed it, I probably wouldn't even remember it existed in a few months, let alone a few years. While The Technomancer may not be a direct sequel to Mars: War Logs, it certainly seems fair to call it a spiritual successor.
The good news, such as it is, is that this game is a spiritual successor that shows marked improvement in at least one or two key areas. The Technomancer actually looks like it belongs in this generation. While I don't think anyone is going to be praising it for its realistic worlds or attention to detail (if you've seen one of this game's neon-lit cities or dusty vistas, you've seen them all), it's possible to look at the graphics here and not cringe, which isn't something that could've been said about Mars: War Logs.
Likewise, it's nice to see that The Technomancer features a little more diversity in its cast. Whereas everyone in Mars: War Logs was basically some variant of "bald space marine", here the characters represent a broader spectrum of humanity. Admittedly, it still looks like they based all the characters and NPCs on maybe a dozen different templates, but that's still a huge increase over the one character model that had last time out.
Beyond that, though, this is pretty much Mars: War Logs with a new coat of paint. The character names tend to be a little too on-the-nose (I found a seller named Goodsman!). The dialogue is heavy on the exposition, but light on resembling actual human speech. The map is a confusing mess. The voice acting is appallingly bad.
Worst of all, the combat hasn't improved at all since Mars: War Logs. In fact, there's a pretty strong argument to be made the The Technomancer is even worse in this respect. Both games place a heavy emphasis on rolling and dodging, but The Technomancer's rolls and dodges feel clunky and awkward — not that they were starting from a particularly smooth place to begin with. No matter how much more true to life this may be, it means you'll be spending a lot of fights awkwardly lunging from one spot to another before you jump up and button-mash your way through a limited number of combat animations.
Seeing as The Technomancer isn't meant to be an AAA experience, I'm hesitant to criticize it too much. I mean, when a game is designed to be a space opera-on-a-budget, it should come as no surprise when the results exactly that. Still, just because a game is made on the cheap, that doesn't mean it has to come off as cheaply made — and there's no denying that's exactly how The Technomancer feels. There are much better experiences out there for much less money, and you shouldn't waste your time with lacklustre games like this.