The Technomancer: All Spiders games can be summed up in one word – “good”. Not bad in terms of the concept and dialogue of Of Orcs and Men, not bad in terms of the concept and plot of Mars: War Logs, not bad in terms of dialogue, graphics, non-linearity and design of Bound by Flame monsters. But if you put a price tag on the game worthy of a full-fledged AAA release, then they will expect from you not a “good” game at all. And Spiders, meanwhile, always has a million-dollar plan, and the result is barely enough for ten bucks from the sale.
In making The Technomancer, the developers did not even try to learn from their mistakes. Again, instead of the free world – gut-shaped tunnels of locations with transitions; instead of developing the setting of Mars: War Logs – borrowings and clichés; instead of diversity and charisma, partners have banalities and copying; and instead of gameplay – grind, grind, grind, exactly until you howl and beg for mercy. Well, the genre, of course, also remained the same – a role-playing party game without normal role-playing and adequate party affiliation: local idol partners here are clearly not for long intimate conversations and not for tactical maneuvers during battles.
Spiders once again rolled out the usual narrow-minded slasher filled with concentrated monotony. We run around the cities of Mars, complete fetch-give-kill missions of various factions and shake their useless reputation. Along the way, we make sure that the karma indicator does not fall when we make “evil” decisions on quests or kill people. Well, as we follow: karma only affects the attitude of partners towards us, and they are so boring and of the same type that it’s not a pity to upset one of them.
The murders here take place in two stages: we beat the adversaries with a club, and then we approach each body wriggling on the ground and suck the serum out of it, which is a local analogue of money. Sounds nasty, but don’t worry: due to the lack of roleplaying, this will not affect the ending of the game or the gameplay in general. But money will be more useful to you than a good attitude of companions: you will buy medicines and upgrades regularly throughout the 30 hours that The Technomancer will take from your life even without side quests.
Locations are not in vain made in the form of corridors: it is easier for the authors to activate triggers for enemy attacks and their generation. To get from point A to point B according to the plot task, it is necessary to destroy from two to ten groups of enemies. At point B, you will be tasked to return to A along the same route, and all the enemies will respawn, and you will have to clear the path again, spending two to ten minutes for each skirmish, again and again, again and again. It is very rare to run past, as dumb partners always get involved in battle, and the main character refuses to open the door to the next corridor until the enemies die. Well, then, when you clear the tunnel twice, from point A you will be sent back again, adding side quests for the same clearing – just in other tunnels. After the second hour of the game, I want to lock up all those who came up with such artificial stretching, in one room, fill it with wild fire and throw a match there. You have to be a person without fantasy and without personal life at the same time in order to get at least some pleasure from such monotonous tiring runs.
On the part of the developers, the players received exactly one encouragement, designed to brighten up the dull gameplay. Three fighting stances of the protagonist can be changed at any time, affecting the central mechanics: fighting with a long staff helps to deal with a large number of not very strong enemies, fighting with a baton and a shield works well against strong and tenacious ones, and a baton and a pistol help keep enemies on distance and quickly deal with especially presumptuous individuals. In addition, the main character belongs to the technomancer caste, which means that he can develop skills in electricity: throw lightning like Zeus, or strengthen melee weapons with electricity. All racks can be downloaded in parallel with other useful skills: charisma, breaking doors and chests, knowledge of science, stealth, crafting and knowledge of the area. All characteristics are useful not only during travel, but also in conversations: unlike their counterparts from Fallout 4, they really help to solve some quests thanks to bonus options in dialogues. And you have no idea how strong the feeling of satisfaction is when some local quest ends in two clicks, and not in two hours.
However, this does not cancel the furious tightening of the game. On some tasks, the NPCs do not give you the reward immediately, but ask you to come for it after ten, twelve, or even twenty-four game hours (about thirty minutes of real time). Of course, you can do other things if you have them, but the authors hint that you should go and find a bed where you can rewind time through a dream. The beds here are quite sparse, so for a good night’s sleep, you will probably have to overcome two or three corridors filled with monsters. Most likely, when you get to the point of rewinding time, this very time will already end and you will have to run back. A similar path must be followed for the sake of changing partners: the choice of places for the redistribution of the team is also limited to one point per location, or even for the whole region.
The locations themselves are a rare positive in the entire game. Say what you like, but the authors know how to make a nice picture with limited resources – at least this applies to working with lighting, panoramas and object models. Beautifully falling rays of light, mutant houses, military barracks, battle animation… in a word, there is something to see here in places, especially if you do not come close and do not peer. Do not take these words as strong praise: there is nothing outstanding in The Technomancer, but looking around in it is much more gratifying than running through the corridors and moving along a plot filled with ridiculous intrigues, whose main twist any of the inhabitants of Mars could see in the simplest amateur telescope.
The Technomancer turned out to be not about the plot, not about role-playing, not about intense and piece fights, not about killing large and interesting alien bosses (of which there are exactly two pieces) and not even about exploring the world, which is still small. It is difficult to say what this game is all about, and even more difficult to choose those to whom it can be recommended. Not for Russian-speaking PC gamers – that’s for sure, because the controls are clearly tailored for the gamepad, and there is no and never will be a regional price or official subtitles.
Playing the latest creation of the Spiders studio is like going to clean the Augean stables, wearing new patent leather shoes. You are waiting for a miracle, but every now and then you step into a fresh cake thrown by the developers. And going back to the very beginning of the discussion about the work of the studio, The Technomancer is no longer a “good game” like the rest of Spiders’ creations. This is a game that everyone got tired of even before its release, and when it did come into being, it managed to spoil all the good that the studio has created in recent years.