Back in 2013 developers The Fullbright Company treated us to the thought-provoking interactive story game Gone Home, and now they have released their second title Tacoma. Tacoma sits very much in the same vein as its predecessor; but also stands above, taking everything that made Gone Home so endearing and providing an even more compelling and intertwined story into the lives of six contrasting space station crew members.
The game takes place aboard the Tacoma space station, which, due to a space debris collision is drastically losing its oxygen supplies. You assume the role of Amy Ferrier, who has been contracted by the corporate owners of the space station, Ventris Technologies, to recover the advance AI and AR records.
To complete this task you’ll need to move through the different sections of the eerie space station and interact with the advanced 3D recording of the crews’ interactions. It’s through these augmented reality interactions were the main bones of the story form, and with the ability to stop, fast forward and rewind these excellent voice interactive cutscenes you’ll be guided through exactly what happened to the crew, and in turn, get a real feeling for how they all come to term with the inevitable looming dread of asphyxiation.
Although all these interactions between the various crew members are very well written and excellently voiced, they are not where the real meat of the story comes from. Just like The Fullbright Company’s previous title Gone Home, this is provided through the exploration and discovery of personal documents belonging to the different crew members. Even finding the smallest note can help provide insight into one of the crew members lives off the Tacoma station, which makes the current situation all that more emotional.
The combination of these intricate note and elaborate interactive scenes really help draw you in as the player. What makes the story even more personal are how the individual crew members back stories are all inspired by situations we all face on a day-to-day basis, from money problems to relationship issues, the grounded approach to each personal story only makes them all the more believable.
The emphasis of exploration is one I applaud The Fullbright Company for taking. Granted players who move from interactive point to interactive point won’t experience the full package, but just like the Greenbriar’s house, the Tacoma space station is an environment that longs to be explored and with a play through only taking around 3 hours, there really is no excuse not to explore the immersive space station.
Tacoma takes a bold approach to its story telling, relying a lot on the player’s exploration, but it’s also an example just how effective this confident approach to telling a narrative can be. The immersive Tacoma space station has intrigue hidden in every corner, and by searching you’ll build a full characterisation of the different crew members, which only adds to the overall emotion felt throughout the game.