It takes something special for a video game to explore the relationships between humans in such a succinct way, particularly if that game is itself fairly brief in nature.
For The Fullbright Company it’s become a norm though, with their Bioshock 2 DLC ‘Minerva’s Den’ and first major title Gone Home receiving critical acclaim in 2010 and 2014 respectively despite the ability to complete both in a single sitting.
Suffice to say, then, that their follow up – Tacoma – was keenly anticipated upon both its unveiling and subsequent release last summer.
Though it may not have hit the heady heights of its predecessor, Tacoma does a valiant job at once again at exploring the connections that make humans, well, human.
It should take just five hours for a player to complete the entire game – achievements and trophies included – but, considering its short-lived affair, it’s easy to be drawn into the survival of the six-person crew on board the Tacoma Lunar Transfer Station.
A key aspect of the gameplay is the ability to rewind time via the use of the game’s ARDware – an augmented reality device that allows Amy, the protagonist, to review past conversations and actions between the crew to determine what went wrong onboard the space station.
It’s from this that Amy is able to delve into both the story itself and the interactions between the crew, and helps each personality to be expressed so eloquently despite the shortness of the game’s run time.
In an adventure game with nothing in the way of first-person action to deal with, atmosphere, story and humanitarian elements are required to fill the gap and Fullbright have certainly capitalised on the last of that trio.
There are clear bonds between the Tacoma’s crew, and it’s hard not to will them on in their quest to a) get to the bottom of what happens to them, and b) to fight back against the fallout from the incident that puts them in grave danger.
It’s a determination to survive, to find a solution to the problem and inquisitive mindset that helps you feel empathy towards the crew – foundations which are all laid as we learn more about them individually and collectively.
Rooting for those onboard becomes second nature all thanks to Fullbright’s ability to write and design characters that we eventually care for greatly, and proves again that not all adventure games need to be action-packed, blockbuster affairs.