Oh, Tacoma [official site], where the wind comes sweeping down the nacelles. This is the next game from Gone Home folks Fullbright, and this time we’re in space, and there are people. Well, sort of. The below 15 minutes of footage from the start of the game gives a clearer picture of how this is going to work, and its similarities and dissimilarities to the cupboard-rummaging and diary-reading of Gone Home. There’s a train ride, a musical interlude, and most important of all, SPACE BLANKETS.
The big switch-up here is that you’re no longer entirely alone. Well, you are, but not from a visual or auditory point of view: the titular space station is inhabited by what I’m going to probably inaccurately describe as data ghosts, replaying the movements of the apparently now-absent crew members. All of whom have neat coloured spacesuits, in a no doubt deliberately Star Trekky way. There are no faces, just blobbly outlines with crude skeleton shapes, like Blender rigs, presumably in order to try and keep this a game in which the environment and voices tell the story rather than being reliant on inevitably glassy-eyed expressions and whatnot.
There’s plenty of browsing through ‘AR Desktop’ email entries, and the various conversations between data ghost NPCs can be rewound in what I can’t quite tell is purely convenience or the basis for puzzles. There’s also a basketball hoop, because, y’know, heritage, and a ship AI with a calm pleasant voice. We know how that stuff tends to play out, right?
Too soon to judge anything, obviously, but despite the impressive space station and the intermittent striking views of the inky great beyond through the windows, I’m not sure it’s quite summoning the immediate sense of mingled mystery and odd familiarity that Gone Home’s opening did. Perhaps it’s just because “going back to your parents’ house” strikes a chord with almost everyone, but “visiting an abandoned space station” is something that will only truly resonate for a select few astronauts, such as Jas Mann.
But hell, this is no doubt a known and calculated risk, with the benefit that stakes and even drama can be upped. A Disaster Of Some Kind is heralded in the closing minutes of the footage, and presumably the game’s tale will be divided between working out what went on there and digging deeper into the various inter-crew relationships, some of which are hinted here. Tacoma’s clearly very interested in our getting to know these people well, from their flirting to their lonely guitar-playing to their bungled attempts at cake-making.
Also, there are excellent space blankets. Look:
Tacoma’s due for release on Windows, Mac, and Linux in spring 2017.