This game is narrative driven walking simulator developed by the creators of Gone Home. You are tasked with investigating what happened on a now abandoned space station. The story is carried by exceptionally well done voice acting and an interesting twist on how to rewatch recordings of the station’s crew and AI.
You start your journey as Amy Ferrier who just docked at the transfer station Tacoma. You transit from the free floating main hub to the three areas that have artificial gravity. In each area you will be able to rewatch the last available recording done by the AI. Rewatching means that crew members present at the recording will be represented by coloured shadows. Crew members do not stay together in one place but run around either alone or in groups. That results in watching the same recordings multiple times while following different crew member shadows. Every member also has communication or personal terminals worth exploring. Other personal items or letters are scattered all over the station.They provide additional information that will fill in the gaps of what actually happened. It really feels like reconstructing a crime scene.
Finding and replaying recordings is very simple from the mechanical point of view. Recordings are confined to a certain area and can be replayed as often as you want. Your character’s movement is fluid and standard FPS. There is an FOV slider in the options menu I would advise to crank up all the way. And the annoying head bobbing can also be deactivated. I encountered no clipping nor was I stuck at any time.
The detective exploration is the obvious and visible plot. Over the course of your investigation you will discover the topic under the surface. Mainly what moral imperatives AI should follow and how to proceed in a moral quandary. It is something worth thinking about in the context of big corporations developing and eventually owning AI.
The environment is rendered almost realistic and many ingame items reminded me of Gone Home. Many items can be picked up and inspected. Only a handful of items actually needed to be used to open something or build something. The majority is just part of the scene or used for world building. The environments never got boring in my two and a half hours of gameplay.
Voice acting for all crew members and AI is superbly done. Everybody has special quirks and emotions are convincingly conveyed by voice. The ambient sounds of the space station fits the place. You can hear the general humming of a constantly rotating station. And opening doors sounds very Star Trek like.
With all that praise on audio I have to say this is also where I have one of the biggest issues with the game. I lacks any form of soundtrack. The ambient sounds get only replaced when someone of the crew listens to his or her favorite music. Other than that it is just the sound of the space station.
My final verdict would be a solid single thumb up for Tacoma. It is well written and acted story from front to finish. It is two and half hours of detective work with an ending that you will not expect and still has me thinking in terms of story development. The missing soundtrack soured the overall package. Achievements and developer commentary give the game additional replayability.