Once upon a time, in the far mythical land of Gothos, lived a happy and hard-working nation, which was suddenly struck by horrible perils... The hatred and the bloody war that followed it proved both the nation's ability to build and use machines of war and its spell-casting abilities. In order to prevent any further conflict, after this war the wise men decided to separate the people into two "races" - the Dreamers, bent on magic and mysticism, and the Steamers, proficient at making machines. One of their basic commandments was that the people of the two newly created races should never mingle, let alone have children with each other.
Rules are like plates - made to be broken, and the 20-year-old protagonist of this game called Melvin only goes to prove that. Being a son of a Steamer father and Dreamer mother (with which he lives) he presents a perfect suspect when things go disastrously wrong. After a horrific earthquake, hordes of nightmarish monsters came from the cracks in the ground and started ravaging the countryside. They can only be opposed by the one who bonds the powers of both races - young Melvin.
This plot is the basis of a nice RPG, whose main trumps lie in great graphics and a well-conceived 3D engine. The thing you will promptly notice is the richness of color onscreen, the multitude of objects and their great design, as well as the cartoon-like design of characters. All these colors are, however, in very good measure and taste, and the developers deserve all praise there. On the other hand, the technical flaws of the textures are more than obvious and affect the overall visual appearance of the game, which would otherwise be extremely good...
The variations in terrain appearance are present as Melvin, solving his quests and puzzles, progresses through altogether eight linear levels. First of these is his magical town of Dreamertown, which resembles a child's dream. On his quest to save the world and his true love Talis, Melvin will pass through Volcanoes, the Fairy Forest, and Canyons...
The camera control and object positioning system are defiantly to blame for the good impression this game left on me. The view is from a bird's-eye perspective, and can be rotated in full 360 degrees with Melvin acting as axis. This is the only possible camera movement. Camera control is good and even though you may think that it is a nuisance to have to rotate the camera all the time, you'll soon get used to it. The rest of the commands are also very easy to cope with, and the first level - tutorial will make you easily learn the ways of the game in no time.
The developers proved their creativity with a large number of technical and gameplay solutions. First, the particle effects system for magical effects is magnificent and completely becomes the game atmosphere and character and creature design. The scripted sequences and cut-scenes are where they should be and as long as they should be (Undying, anyone?) and they carry the plot, providing gameplay continuity. The sound is also good, but the music far surpasses the few occasionally monotonous sound samples.
Being a half-dreamer, Melvin is from the very start able to cast low-level spells. Like in most RPGs, Melvin will earn Experience Points by solving riddles, defeating opponents, and completing quests. Those points can be used for improving personal characteristics: Physical Strength, Intelligence, Constitution, and Mysticism (which Melvin uses to better exploit special artifacts). This is where we come to Technomage's worst downside - its simplicity.
RPG evolution created really complex and difficult games with one good reason - they have to hold players attention. Technomage doesn't have a "d" from difficult. The game is utterly linear and uninventive. You will have to solve a number of sub-quests that have absolutely nothing to do with the basic story, and it seems that they have been put in only to make the game longer. Completing those quests soon becomes a routine with no challenge in it, not to speak of their complexity.
The childish look of Technomage should not have resulted in such a gameplay. The go-to-X-pick-up-Y-take-to-Z type of quests seems adequate for players younger than ten, or the players who are unfamiliar with the genre. With what I saw (and finished in no time), I think that Technomage lacks "power" and "flavor" for hard-core gamers. Therefore, I wholeheartedly recommend this game to 8-10 year-old kids. I'm sure they'll love it.
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