Tacoma does everything it sets out to do with adequate success. In my opinion, this general “pretty good I guess” feel to the game is high praise for a game in the walking sim genre, a category of games that has received such friction from general gaming culture that Tacoma’s predecessor, Gone Home, can be used as an insult. For instance, one random asshole might say “Wow this game has less game play than Gone Home!” And while I think this type of gamer is certainly a heartless bastard that can’t appreciate art, I also know that this is symptomatic of a larger problem with the gaming scene’s perception towards non-traditional narrative heavy games.
To allow myself a tangent, what is the difference between a point and click adventure, and a narrative exploration game? I’m willing to wager the biggest difference we’ll find is that adventure games have locks on its doors that require the player to search and puzzle their way through. I often feel like this trait of wanting me to spend longer in the game is in effort to waste my time rather than entertain me. So why is it such a bad thing when a game like Tacoma respects the value I have for my time, and doesn’t bother with shallow puzzles? I think it is a disservice to the games industry to call walking sims as lesser games, especially when there are so many that tell interesting stories while engaging just enough.
This is why Tacoma being “pretty good I guess” is a good grade from me. My stay on Tacoma station was enjoyable as I got to know the crew and explore the mystery, and by the time I was getting ready to wrap up my first session the curtains were closing and the credits were rolling. I recommend Tacoma to people who enjoy these types of short and satisfying stories. I also recommend that people who use walking sim as an insult to learn to appreciate some damned art when they see it.
This review is part #2 of Sam’s self-imposed backlog challenge. You can follow him on Twitter