I like a good story exploration/ambiance exploration game. Good is always subjective, of course, so my preferences not always were similar to what I heard from others. I like Dear Esther, for example, even prefer it to Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture but was mostly really bored in Gone Home. So I wasn’t really that excited for Tacoma when I first heard of it. Damn, am I glad I decided to check it out, though.
Tacoma works similarly to how story exploration games usually, work, but adds a more interactive investigative element to everything, and also establishes a rather curious multi-layered mystery to the situation. You are a person sent on board a space station that suddenly got damaged and has only a few days left of oxygen, all right as the 6 people on board were getting ready to end the year of service and look into renewing their contract. Except, things look a bit off, and perhaps there was another reason for the accident, and that is something you will be investigating while watching the Augmented Reality recordings of the events on the station, following people around and watching them cope with this situation, and their normal life relationships.
It’s a pretty simple setup, really, but the game is very smart about the storytelling and portioning the story bits you investigate, and also spending a lot of time on detailing every character personality. Voice acting is on point, as is the writing, and things just work together in a very nice simple way, that helps the game being very engrossing. You’ll easily remember the characters, understand why they do what they do, get intrigued in their internal conflicts and then get through the whole story until its solid, if somewhat predictable (but not in a bad way), resolution in one go. Especially since the game will most likely take you under 3 hours to complete, even if you check, watch and read everything. Which some might find disappointing, but I’d say – the game lasts exactly as long as it needs to and tells as much as it needs to, so kudos to Fullbright on not doing the common mistake of adding pointless elements to the game.
If you’re into story driven adventure games or story exploration titles, I would highly recommend checking Tacoma as soon as you get a chance. If you’re not – hey, it’s short and is a joy to play, so please do consider checking it out anyway.
Now about those 2 free games: A Raven Monologue and Banyu Lintar Angin – Little Storm – are 2 completely free titles currently available on Steam with a bonus support paid packs you can buy. These are just super tiny interactive comic books, essentially, with really cute art and sound design and since both will take less than 5 minutes to go through, I’d definitely suggest checking them out.