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Technomage: Return to Eternity (PlayStation) artwork

Technomage: Return to Eternity (PlayStation) review

"So, who has heard of Technomage? Admittedly, the very fact that you are reading this heavily suggests that you do, but you have to admit, this was a very quietly released game, made by the German company Sunflower. Again, not heard of them? It's okay, neither had I. So, an all but unheard of game, made by an all but unheard of company. This never bodes well. "

So, who has heard of Technomage? Admittedly, the very fact that you are reading this heavily suggests that you do, but you have to admit, this was a very quietly released game, made by the German company Sunflower. Again, not heard of them? It's okay, neither had I. So, an all but unheard of game, made by an all but unheard of company. This never bodes well.

In the world of Gothos, there live two types of people. The Dreamers, who are well versed in the ways of magic and the Steamers, who lean instead on machinery. You are the forbidden combination of the two. which somehow gives you the ability to wield weapons and use magic. The one drawback to being sucj a multi-talented freak is the simply drawback of being called Melvin; a name so nerdy that no matter how awesome you are, you already know you’re never going to score. If that wasn;t enough, you still live with your mother in Dreamertown, where everyone is just a little suspicious of you. This is where you begin, but your travels will take you all over Gothos where you discover your role in life as a Steamer-Dreamer; AKA a Technomage.

Yes, I know, but I didn't come up with the names.

The game is devided into two separate parts; tasks and dungeons. In the tasks section, you must complete set listed chores to advance the story. You can bring up a sub-menu which list all the tasks, which get checked off as you go along. These tasks can be anything from 'meet so-and-so by area X' to 'save world'. They start off easy and get harder to figure out as you go along. The good thing about this, is that you gain experience points from completing these tasks, which gives you more incentive to finish them. It can be annoying whilst trying to figure out some of the trickier ones, but it’s overall quite an enjoyable inclusion.

The dungeons system is set in real time, as in, you slash at the enemy instead of a more tradition RPG like turn-based brawls. You start off with basic weaponry before moving up to spells and better armaments. The dungeons can be rotated with the L2 and R2 buttons which is invaluable, as with a fixed camera angle, this would be impossible.

There are also puzzles to be solved in dungeons, many of which qualify as tasks that pop up on your task menu, giving you more handy experience points. You need also make use of you jumping abilities to leap from platform to platform. [Why do dungeons almost always have strange moving platforms in them anyway? You would have thought if someone could make a ton of stone levitate in mid air, moving back and forth over a bottomless void, they could keep unwanted visitors out with something like a magical 5-lever deadlock wouldn't you?] Falling off the jumping sections is not quite as painful as it could be, as re-spawn points are littered everywhere you could fall to you doom to ease unnecessary frustration. Along your travels you can buy or find the obligatory potions which restore your health and mana.

The simple controls are certainly a help. The shoulder buttons (1) bring up the area map and your task list. (2) rotates the map. You can easily jump, strike with both weapon and magic and use tools (such as a time bomb). It also can make use of the analog, which is nice.

The main problem with the graphics is that it looks like everything has been compressed. In fact, it looks like they’ve taken a normal sized game, and stomped on it repeatedly until everything was dwarfed. Apart from this, everything is very well presented. The characters move well, with Melvin's robe fluttering out behind him. Neat little effects like water rippling and splashing when disturbed or shadows moving within light are commonplace. The magic spells look impressive, as does the effects when you run out of magic, as multi-coloured sparks jump from your fingers. The CGI scenes look impressive and each area is designed well.

The music though, never make any real impression. It never seems out of place but also never really jumps out at you. Every now and then, some really sinister sounding music will flair up and make you pay notice, but it usually just serves as a backdrop to the better executed effects. You hear the screams of pain from both yourself and the enemy when hit. You hear the cries of frustration from enemies that just cannot reach you. Magic flares across the landscape, sounding just like it should. Even the multicoloured sparks you fire whilst out of mana sounds good. There’s also the voice acting, which is ranged between OK to ear bleedingly bad. But the worst of it can be skipped in favour of text.

It has its moments of frustration . Some of those tasks will have you chomping in anger. They can be so damn annoying at times, you'll wonder how good a Frisbee the disc will make. Also, the jumping parts of the game can really grate across the nerves. Being one jump out only to miss the intended platform and fall to your doom and having to start the whole thing over again hurts. The inclusion of re-spawn points for you to, well, re-spawn at near every jumping section is a great touch though and saves insanity. The fact that you can save your progress anywhere in the game helps a lot as well.

Really, it all boils down to a fun and solid game. It’s different enough from anything else to be an interesting play. Although any plot twists are spelt out in crayon, rather then leaving it to you to try and puzzle out, the story is interesting enough to pull you through the game. You don't see it about so much, but it is worth tracking down if in the mood for this sort of game. Alas, it has not been released outside of Europe, but it has a PC spawn, which may have found its way out to those across the pond.

Cornwell's avatar
Community review by Cornwell (January 31, 2010)

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