Tacoma is the space adventure game from the team at Fullbright and is available for PC, Xbox One and now PlayStation 4. I remember its original release last year and unfortunately it got lost in the shuffle for me even though it had captured my attention since day one. It takes adventure quite literally but is it just a boring float through place or does it hold some gravit-as. (Yes, space puns, did you expect anything else?)
You take on the role of Amy, a subcontractor who has been tasked with going to Tacoma, a Lunar Transfer Station and investigate what events have taken place that resulted in eventual system failure. You have been contracted by Venturis, the company who own Tacoma but not all is what it seems. In terms of story, I found it easy to get hooked from the get go, space, mystery, interesting premise, boom all in.
My love for the narrative only grew the further along I ventured into the station and found out more about the characters who called it home. Six characters shared the Lunar Transfer Station not only as their place of work, but their home too. Each of the six has there set duties aboard Tacoma, the Station Administrator is responsible for the entire operation, E.V. St. James. Under her, are then the five key personnel who are experts in their own field, Medic Sareh Hasmadi, Botanist Andrew Dagyab, Mechanical Engineer Roberta Williams, Network Specialist Natali Kuroshenko and Operations Specialist Clive Siddiqi.
Exploring the personnel and being able to see some of their interactions with each other thanks to the AR recordings was fascinating to me. Now you are probably wondering what AR recordings are, basically when boarding Tacoma there are two nodes you attach to your head, one for left and the other on the right. These allow you to see AR signage, and hologram like recordings which have been taken across the whole station. What a fantastic way to deliver lore and backstory, when you are limited in terms of ‘physical characters’ to interact with.
If you are looking for any kind of action you will not be finding it here, this is all about the adventure and it shows in the gameplay. It feels very much like a walk in the park, pleasant. The gravity or lack there-of lends itself to the smooth and slow movement that one would think of if someone said space. Throughout the journey, you interact with AR panels and the beforementioned AR recordings to unfold the path in front of you and step by step figure out what happened. It’s slow but very deliberate, almost as if to savour the experience, like a nice steak dinner.
The atmosphere is like its own character, I very much felt alone whilst walking or floating through the station, with nothing but the sounds of machinery, the sound systems and the AR recordings. Looking out of the external windows into almost nothingness with maybe parts of the ship in view is eerie and unsettling to say the least. Nobody would be able to hear me scream and that just instils this sense of dread and tension.
Sound is used to great effect in delivering both the story and building the world around you. Many of the AR recordings are corrupted which lead to many being static visually with the audio playing fine. Each moment and interaction between the crew you can get a feel for thanks to the great voice acting performances and use of music playing over the speakers. Well executed sound design does wonders for immersion and this nails it.
This two to three-hour space outing is the perfect short story for those looking for something in between those massive 10’s of hours open-world titles seemingly flooding the gaming landscape. That being said Tacoma is the perfect any time game. It’s just long enough to be considered a worthwhile investment of time whilst short enough to be concise and captivating.
OVERALL: 8.7/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Tacoma, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)