Tacoma: Mysteries…in Space!

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Intro

Tacoma, like many walking sim/exploration games, takes heavy influence from Gone Home. In fact, in concept, the games are nearly identical. Walk around an old abandoned space, piecing together a story from the clues you find. The most significant difference between the two, however, is the tone. Where Gone Home wants to be very small-scale, Takoma thinks much bigger.
The Tacoma crew in zero gravity
You aren’t exploring a small empty mansion in the woods, but a spaceship which experienced some unknown disaster. You play as Amitjyoti Ferrier, an AI specialist who has to get on board the wreak and save the data and hardware of the ship’s AI, Odin. Then bring it back to Venturis, a mega-corporation which owns the space station and it’s AI. As you walk through the station, you can play back recorded clips that show you who was on board, where they were, even what they were saying. You’re free to rewind these clips as you wish, watching what happened from many possible angles until you figure out just what went wrong on the ship. And who was responsible.

Plot

The crew of the TacomaBecause you only come on the station after the events of the games main story, you’d expect the tension in the game to be gone (after all, it’s all already happened, and it’s clear to see it doesn’t end well.) However, I was surprised to find myself not only fearing for these people whose fates have already been decided. Most of the crew are in every scene. And by watching them over and over, it’s easy to get attached to them. The game also goes out of its way to distinguish between them all as much as possible, giving them each their own body type, color, symbol, name, and voice to make sure it’s impossible to confuse who’s who. But, as I watched these people go about their lives on this station, I found myself worrying maybe whatever got to them is still here, and perhaps it will get me too…

Mechanics

Hunting the story of the TacomaThe game centers around exploration, so exploring the station should be fun. Luckily, the designers made a smart choice; zero gravity. By allowing you to float freely around in many sections, the mere act of moving through the station becomes fun. This helps keep the player engaged, and helps keep you in long enough until the plot hooks you. Watching video clips is fun too, as many are out of order and are taking place all over the ship. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to see someone come into the scene you didn’t expect, then rewind and find out exactly how they fit into all this. And once the station begins to have problems, it becomes a wonderfully pleasant who-done-it that you have to see through to the end.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Takoma was a lot of fun. Its mix of unique setting, exploration, and mechanics makes for a very engaging story that is hard to put down once you’re in it. If you haven’t played it before, now is a perfect time. It is out on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, and just came out on PS4, so no matter what you play on you have access to it.

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