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ID@Xbox Game Fest Recap – Tacoma

We’ve officially wrapped up ID@Xbox Game Fest 2019 and we loved this year’s theme: Gaming for Everyone. As Xbox Ambassadors, it’s our mission to help make Xbox fun for everyone, and that’s just what ID@Xbox has set out to do.

The 31 games featured in this year’s Game Fest highlight diverse stories, voices, creators, and characters. Indie games like Dandara, In Between, and 1979 Revolution: Black Friday represent a future where gaming really is for everyone, and everyone has a game they can and like playing.

The Xbox Ambassadors Team and Playhosts streamed some of their favorite ID@Xbox games to celebrate diversity in gaming. Read on for our Tacoma recap!

taxel-streaming-indie-game-tacomaTacoma is a game set on the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma in the year 2088. Developed by Fullbright, we play in first person through the eyes of Amy, a contractor sent on a sort of data recovery mission by the corporation that owns the station. On arrival the station seems entirely empty, but we can still interact with the resident AI as well as the station’s stored bank of augmented reality log data around what has been happening with the crew leading up to the station’s evacuation.

The Augmented Reality system used to help tell the storyViewing and reviewing the AR logs is one of the most unique aspects of the game – each character has depth, they’re all in complicated relationships with one another or with family members back home, and we get to watch that all play out in front of us. Adding to that, there’s an awesome amount of diversity at play regarding the characters themselves, their backstories, and how they interact with one another. While there’s a voyeuristic aspect to watching a member of the crew argue with their child and husband back home about which university their son should attend, the writing and voice acting is done well enough that I actually wanted to know what happened and how they were going to pay for tuition.  To add some more immediate priority to these recordings, the player also needs to keep an eye out for useful in-game data like locker passwords and clues about what’s happened to the crew more recently.

A scene depicting a party for Obsolescence DayI found myself playing, rewinding, fast-forwarding, and pausing the VR logs at times to make sure I fully understood every aspect of the storyline – there’s a lot to take in, and I certainly could have spent more than the 2ish hours I took to finish the game. The station has an impressive amount of visual detail in the story-related (and entirely unrelated) objects and items to interact with as Amy explores the station – down to the type of shampoo each crew member uses, the posters in their lockers and living quarters, and the kind of flour used in the cake they made on one of the more important days in the game’s story. Tacoma also asks questions regarding the relationship humanity will have with artificial intelligence in the future. By the end, the game also makes a suggestion or two about what that relationship should look like.

A list of ethical questions to test an AI withThe icing on the cake for me was the number of easter eggs scattered throughout referencing the city of Tacoma, Washington, where I lived for an excellent 5 years myself. The game developer Fullbright’s located in Portland (only a couple hours south of there). There are all kinds of Pacific Northwest influences on the art, the characters, and the general lore of the game, which provides a nice connection to the developers and the environment the game was developed in.

One of the cooler standalone peaks in the PNW - Mt. RainierAll in all, Tacoma really hit the sweet spot for me – a detailed sci-fi world, deep and interesting characters that develop over the course of the game, and it asked relevant ethical questions that real humans will have to find answers to in the coming years. I would highly recommend this game to anyone who loves great sci-fi storytelling, diverse characters and voices, or just wants a short game to play that guarantees 2-3 hours well spent.

I hope you enjoyed the recap and that you take the time to experience the game yourself! Please let me know what you think in the comments below. If you’ve got recommendations for other awesome titles that highlight diversity in gaming, please send them my way!