Mystery and exploration at zero G.
Steve Gaynor and The Fullbright Company are hard at work on Tacoma, their follow-up game to their well-received first game, Gone Home. Their sophomore effort looks to take many of Gone Home’s core mechanics of an isolated exploration experience of mystery and discovery. Like Gone Home, you’ll be seeking out clues looking to put together what happened to the crew of the titular space station Tacoma.
You play an independent contractor hired by the owner of the Tacoma Space Station set with the task of determining just what went wrong. It doesn’t take long to realize that things have gone haywire just after meeting the ship's A.I. construct Odin, who begins to glitch almost as soon as you come on board. You may see shades of familiarity to other classic sci-fi space tales where the A.I. has gone horribly wrong, but Gaynor is quick to point out that he’s not looking to make a story so obvious from the get-go.
"You don't want it to end up being the thing everyone figured at first, but you can definitely have cheap twists where it's like, 'Well, there's no way I could've known that was going to happen'," he said. "Landing that middle-ground is challenging, but I think that's the benefit of starting from familiar tropes."
Gaynor continued: "Gone Home was a dark and stormy night in an old, creaky house, so from the start there was an assumption of a horror game, that something terrible happened here. So hopefully, subverting that by making it about these individuals that I got invested in for different reasons than I expected to be kind of our version of a twist. I never wanted it to be like, 'Twist, she's gay!' Hopefully, similarly in Tacoma, you're on an abandoned space station, there's an A.I. that has malfunctioned. I'd hope that you start thinking, 'Is it going to be this or this or this?', and we can get to an endpoint where it wasn't any of those things but feels legitimate."
One thing was apparently clear: The crew of the Tacoma was able to escape with their lives. It was mentioned that they were evacuated, but then why is there the need for a contractor to come and uncover the mystery of what went wrong and not speak with the surviving crew. Gaynor told us, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
You’ll have to piece together what happened by finding clues scattered around the accessible parts of the Tacoma. The exploration will feel similar to Gone Home, but you’ll be heavily relying on Odin to help you piece together what happened as he has recorded the crewmates as they go about their daily tasks. You have the ability to virtually eavesdrop on conversations and play them back and jump around between the different crewmates at any given time. The crew is represented by rainbow colored silhouettes that also have icons that specify their individual tasks on the Tacoma.
Tacoma appears to be a worthy successor to the style of game that The Fullbright Company is getting a reputation for. Going for an ensemble cast of characters with an A.I. construct that may or may not be trustworthy makes me look forward to uncovering and solving the mystery.
Tacoma is releasing in Fall 2016 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.