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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Technomancer is a science-fiction-themed action/role-playing game set in the distant future on a colonized Mars. The game gives players numerous ways to develop their character and to affect the world around them through the use of different moral choices. Based on these choices, companions and NPCs will react differently to the player. Much of the game consists of combat, and the player has access to three styles to use to defeat their enemies. When hit, enemies will splash drops of blood and occasionally be electrified with special attacks. Defeated enemies are usually considered knocked out, but the player is given the option to kill downed foes in exchange for "serum," the general currency used for most items in the game. The game does feature regular use of profanity throughout its dialogue, as well as references to sex and drugs.
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What's it about?
As THE TECHNOMANCER opens, it's been more than 200 years since humankind left the Earth behind and colonized Mars. Most people live in run-down settlements and crime-ridden slums. Some unlucky souls have been exiled to the harsh Martian landscape, where the intense radiation has caused mutations in those who somehow managed to survive. Huge corporations control the planet's supply of usable water, meaning they hold all the power. In this world, Technomancers are a part of the corporate police force, tasked with keeping the peace, protecting the people, and securing knowledge from days past. Technomancers have unique abilities and are able to interact with technology and channel vast electric powers. You are Zachariah, a rookie Technomancer who has just learned the truth behind the Technomancers' origins. Now your real journey begins -- it's one that will uncover vast conspiracies involving hidden secrets buried in the Martian sands and, more importantly, one that could free what's left of humanity from the machinations of those in power.
Is it any good?
This engaging sci-fi RPG focuses mainly on life in the distant future and even on other planets. Here, life is all about conflict and the ways we choose to resolve those conflicts -- that's the lesson that's been taught by games such as Fallout 4, the Mass Effect series, and now this title. So it's hard not to compare The Technomancer to those other sci-fi-themed games, as it takes strides to incorporate some of the best features of those epic hits. Whether it's the scavenging of materials and crafting of improved gear (instantly familiar to any Fallout 4 fan) or weighing your moral choices in the game against the beliefs and desires of your ragtag group of companions (a staple of the Mass Effect franchise), it's hard not to get a sense of déjà vu. Even the citizens buckling under the thumb of evil corporations is a plot point that's been seen time and time again. That being said, The Technomancer still manages to create its own unique identity during your time in the harsh Martian landscape.
For starters, while the story might initially feel like it's been done before, that doesn't make it any less interesting. The combat in the game is also surprisingly smooth, even with three styles (plus your Technomancer powers) that can be switched on the fly. You can't help but feel like some superhuman warrior when you smash into an enemy with a shield and knock back his friends with an electrified staff before finishing him off with a poison dagger, all in one fluid chain. Admittedly, it takes a bit of practice to get to that fluidity, as there are a lot of nuances to accessing all the player's actions at the same time. In fact, the game's biggest flaw overall is that it gets weighted down by all the commands available at any given time. There's almost too much available at any given time, and it can get a bit overwhelming. And there's nothing more frustrating than being in the heat of battle and trying to use a health kit, only to pull up your equipment menu by mistake. But with some practice (and a limber set of fingers for the controller), things eventually come together and make for a much more comfortable experience. While The Technomancer might try a little too hard to do too much at once, it's still a fun and familiar experience that's just the thing to quench your action/RPG thirst.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about moral and ethical decisions in games. How do choices directly affecting the behavior of characters affect the way you play games? Are you more likely to play a character and make choices closer to your actual nature or further removed from it?
Talk about the ways that science fiction can become science fact. How are some of the ways that the fantasy elements of the science fiction of today can inspire the technology of tomorrow?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Focus Home Interactive
- Release date: June 28, 2016
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.