independent

Monday 18 December 2017

Tacoma an interesting and powerful game

By Chris Hayes - Game Review

While it may not provide breakneck action, Tacoma will leave a lasting impression on the player.
While it may not provide breakneck action, Tacoma will leave a lasting impression on the player.

There's a certain voyeuristic quality to Tacoma that was mildly off-putting at first, but after hours spent digging through your co-habitants belongings, watching arguments and embraces, I couldn't warm to the intriguing and disturbing future world that Tacoma builds.

You play as a contracted AI communications specialist who must board the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma after your task is complete. Tacoma's well-designed sections offer a wealth of information and augmented-reality (AR) recordings that you can download to your Nintendo 3DS-like device.

Downloading the recordings allows you to access the meat of Tacoma's storytelling. All or most crewmembers are usually present in every scene, so I was encouraged to experience each recording in different ways as I followed members to hear their part. This is made easy with the rewind, fast-forward, and pause functions that manipulate the timeline which shows the length of the recording.

The timeline was also helpful in showing when a crewmember opened their AR desktop, which can also be accessed during the recordings. Interacting with the desktops and notes left throughout the station is optional, but they're important resources for gathering more context about each crew member's issues, interests, and relationships.

With only two days of oxygen left, many of the recordings involve the crew arguing, problem-solving, or comforting one another as their time starts to run out. Even without facial animations of any kind, it's easy to interpret their emotions, mostly due to phenomenal voice acting from the cast. But to really understand the crew's dynamics, you have to poke around their emails and IMs, the books and keepsakes in their bunks, and the few recordings that capture them alone.

Of course, while the individual stories you gather up from the crew are engaging, there is also a wider narrative being pushed by the developers. One of your crew member's conversations with the sentient AI on board the ship serve as your main source of learning the big picture stuff going on outside of Tacoma, but it feels incomplete. It is my one main gripe with Tacoma that, until the very end, the greater context feels very far away.

Tacoma is an interesting and powerful game. While it may not provide breakneck action, it will leave a lasting impression on the player.

8/10

Tacoma

PC

Wexford People

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