Space Station Reconnaissance- Tacoma Review

You are Amy Ferrier, a subcontractor for a company called Venturis Corporation who is on a mission to retrieve the AI data records from the space station Tacoma (also owned by Venturis) after it got abandoned. Simple job, right? You fly in on your spaceship, complete with a compartment to house the AI (named ODIN) when you leave. You dock onto the station and receive your orders from Venturis. After receiving the AR hardware that allows to record and capture the AI data, called ARdware, you enter into the body of the Tacoma. This is where things start to get interesting.

tacoma-amy
You communicate with the AR interface using sign language

Story/Gameplay

Normally this would be two different sections, but in this game, the story is so tied into the gameplay that I’m combining them. The story of the game is told in the recordings you find throughout the modules of the ship. Venturis sends you messages throughout the game that gives you directions on where to go to download the AI data records. Each module has two areas to explore, and each area has up to 3 AI records you can view and interact with.

Tacoma_Hub.png
The center hub of the station

Now the thing with the AI records is that some of them are corrupted, so you’ll only hear pieces of them, while some are wholly intact and you can interact with everything there. One of the key elements of these recordings is that you will be prompted on the bottom bar with question marks, and these will be paired with a symbol. The symbol tells you which person to interact with, and this lets you see into their personal AR and get a glimpse into what they were doing when the recording took place.

As you make your way through the ship and view the recordings, you start to learn about the Tacoma through the different perspectives of the crew members. What is going through their heads as everything unfolds, how they interact with other crew members- relationships, doubts, fears. You get invested into the characters, and then you start to unravel the dark secrets of the Tacoma. I won’t spoil that here, you’ll have to play for yourself to find out.

The story was pretty short, only 3 hours, but I just followed what the messages said and didn’t really explore all that much outside of the areas it told me to go to. I might replay it and explore a little more into the central area of the station, and maybe add the developer’s commentary on top of it this time as well.

Atmosphere

I usually call this setting, but I think it’s more appropriate with this game to call it atmosphere. It is well done, and between the AR and the detail they put in, it made me feel like I was actually watching these events myself. I got immersed into the story, just wanted to keep going.

The transitions from the center module to the outer rings of the station were smooth, just a simple lift that acts as a loading sequence. The first one was pretty long, I thought I was going to be stuck in it…

Inside of the areas you’re allowed to actually interact with the items around you, such as the pool table in the administration area that you can actually set up and play a round of pool on, or drawers in the personal quarters that hold letters and magazines to give you a glimpse into their personal lives.

Tacoma_Pool_Table
Pool anyone? ODIN? No? Alright.

The AR ties everything together, allowing you to view the files at each person’s workstation, give visual cues as to what you’re hearing over the speakers (the CEO gets really annoying after a while), and gives it a sense of “dang, this could actually happen in the future”. I loved the AR personally, it would be awesome to have something like that in real life (that doesn’t require huge eyewear or something outrageous like that).

Verdict

“Wait, isn’t there supposed to be more stuff to a review article than this? Why are you giving your verdict now?” Honestly, this game is very minimal, and that’s what I like about it. No complicated controls to learn, no convoluted puzzles to solve. I’ve described all I needed to in order to give my verdict.

Pros:

  • Good story
  • Great atmosphere
  • Simple, but still engaging

Cons:

  • Short, only 3 hours
  • I want to see what happens next, the game kind of just ended all of a sudden.
  • It’s a walking simulator. Not really a good game for someone who wants action.

Final verdict: 7/10

I recommend that you give it a shot if it goes on sale. I enjoyed this game a lot, I like games like this from time to time. I hope that sometime down the line that they expand on this world a little bit more, not necessarily as another game, but maybe as a set of short stories just to give a sense of what happens next.

The developer of this game, Fullbright, also made Gone Home, another game that I have and hope to play in the future.

This game is free through Twitch Prime until July 18th, so if you have Amazon Prime you can get this game through Twitch for free. Grab it while you can, it is $19.99 USD retail price on PC through Steam and GOG, Xbox, and PS4.

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-V

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