The Space Odyssey of Tacoma
Tacoma is also a game from the develeopers, Fullbright, who brought you Gone Home — another narrative driven exploration game. Tacoma is a narrative-driven space adventure set on a abandon space station in the year 2088.
The story takes place on a cargo transfer station between the Earth and a Moon Resort called the Lunar Transfer Station: Tacoma — which is owned by Venturis, the in-game megacorp that runs several space stations and resorts. On the Lunar Transfer Station: Tacoma, players gets to explore every detail of how the station’s crew lived and worked, finding clues that add up to a bigger story of conspiracy, trust, and fear.
“a bigger story of conspiracy, trust, and fear.”
To pull this narrative off, Fullbright used an in-game playback recorder system to illustrate the story on-board the station — which is pitched to you (in-game) through augmented reality. So naturally Tacoma is full of fragmented holographic conversations, cats, emails, and messages to progress the narrative; however the story isn’t just limited to holographic tricks, there are many physical items that add to the story too. Essentially everything on-board the space station has been recorded by Venturis’s AI ODIN; every moment and movement of the crews daily lives are catalogued and stored by ODIN.
Firstly Tacoma is a beautfully deisgned game; everything from the textures, modeling, and story are executed perfectly. The story has many smart, occasionally powerful, and sometimes funny moments. Every member of the crew—who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation — contribute to a story that draws you in. Tacoma makes you feel like a movie director, with the ability to control the holographic recordings by playing, pausing, or fast forwarding through events. These recordings will often take place in a section of the station or in multiple rooms; so in order to get the full story, you have to pause and rewind a few times, then follow each character, and collect more information about the turn of events — this also adds to the exploration of the entire space station.
The game places you at a unquie vantage point, you’re a viewer of events that already happened. I feel that this distances the player from the story rather than incorporates them; at the end of the game the player is incorpated, but that feels like a small part in the greater scheme of things. Additionally the player has no real backstory, all you essentially know in the beginning is your name and that you’re a contractor for Venturis — although at the end of the game you get a little more information, but not much.
Quite a bit of mild, but not bad. The only negative thing I can summon up about Tacoma is that I personally think it is a story first, and a game second. Tacoma clearly suffers from this paradox, because it’s a great story but falls short as a game.
“Tacoma is a story first, and a game second.”
Overall Tacoma is solid game. It incorporates current technology trends and innovative story telling to tell us a unquie story that exceeds the status quo in gaming: 8/10
A special thank you to Fullbright for giving us a review code!