Tacoma Weaves an Augmented-Reality Mystery in Space

While arriving at the space station Tacoma, it’s difficult not to think of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The homage is obvious and purposeful; Tacoma is a circular space station with a malfunctioning, talking AI, after all. But there’s a lot more to this story than a computer gone awry. Tacoma is a story about people and relationships – even though you’re all alone.

The second game from Fullbright, the team behind the critically acclaimed Gone Home, Tacoma puts you in control of Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to the space station to recover data for her employer. In the process, she unearths how the previous crew of six scientists have seemingly disappeared, gathering clues on what exactly went wrong as she explores. Like Gone Home, it’s a game where you pull details of the narrative from the environment.

The space station is equipped with an augmented-reality display, and AR recordings of the crew can be activated. The scenes play out in front of and around you, color-coded “ghosts” of the crew moving through the station’s rooms. All the scenes can be paused and rewound, and you can move through them, giving you the ability to observe every action and learn more about the characters. The scenes are really cool, and each character comes across as diverse and complex.

In our brief E3 demo we learned very little about the fate of the crew, only that their communications had been cut off and there was a problem with the oxygen. Ominous, to be sure, though Fullbright is keeping tight lipped on whether Tacoma is a horror game, a sci-fi story, a romantic drama, or some combination of all these things. Steve Gaynor, co-founder of Fullbright, says Tacoma is about “acknowledging these preconceptions [of the genre] and then going somewhere interesting with it.”

The Fullbright team has already shown their ability to weave a story that draws players into their carefully constructed world. Tacoma is a much larger project, though, so we’re excited to see how this story plays out, and learn more about the people that live, work, and love there in space.

Tacoma is set to release in 2017. You can check out Fullbright’s previous game, Gone Home on Xbox One and PC.