Tacoma is boring. That is a shame because I really liked its predecessor Gone Home, which was the first walking simulator* I played and it opened my eyes to the great possibilities of the genre. Like most people my first thought was “I want this again, but on a space station.” Of course I had something dark and sinister in mind, not a display of an Utopian society, which is so colorful and diverse, that in its awkward political correctness an evil mega corporation seems out of place.
At the beginning of Gone Home you found yourself in an eerie, empty house at night. You had no idea where the game was going. It might as well have been the start of something dark and terrible. It was exciting and I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened. In Tacoma you find yourself in a space station that seems perfectly fine. Apparently nobody’s home and I didn’t care to find out why.
I think it wasn’t a good idea to break up the space station into separate units. It made it very obvious how linear the game is structured and it took a lot away from the fascination of exploring a big place. Instead of a huge empty house I was looking through small narrow compartments. I also wasn’t fond of the main gameplay feature: The ability to find and replay 3D-recordings of the crew. They often felt too long and the use of very basic looking avatars instead of real models of the crew members themselves made the experience less interesting. Maybe it’s because I am a broken old man, but I don’t get easily attached to featureless faces with problems.
Further into the game and knowing more about everyone I started to get a little bit more interested, but at no point did I care about anyone. Did they get away? Were they horribly killed and abused by space necrophiles? The latter would have probably gotten a smile out of me, but that’s a personal thing. Know that I didn’t smile at all.
I have to make special mention of the soundtrack. It’s painful. It’s not so much the music itself as the production of it. Whoever mixed and mastered the end credit song managed to inflict some serious pain upon me. If you own decent speakers or headphones, tread lightly on the volume.
What I liked about the game was the love for detail on all the day to day crap and litter that filled the space station. From cat food to single malt whisky everything was designed with great care and would have been a great addition in an exciting exploration game. Another plus is that you’re done after roughly 3 hours, probably less.
I didn’t hate Tacoma, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have forgotten about it in a week. If you like to look at lovingly designed crap in space, or if you need a video game safe space that lets you explore an unsafe space station. Go play Tacoma! Everyone else with the slightest interest in walking simulators go play What Remains of Edith Finch!
*Walking simulator is a misleading term, because while it’s true that walking around is a major part of the game, it’s not simulated to any remarkable degree. It’s just your average WASD-controls and no running, which makes Call of Duty (the game for hateful and/or obese, white boys, who need extraordinary hand-eye-coordination for love) a better walking simulator than Tacoma.
Info: Tacoma was developed by Fullbright and released in 2017. You can buy it.