submit to reddit
Pin it
Tacoma - title

In a Nutshell


  • Requires active player involvement
  • Tacoma station is a believable and functional space station
  • Themes of corporate malfeasance
  • Likeable characters
  • Surprisingly straightforward ending


  • Simple puzzles
  • Don't get to know the characters as much as I'd have liked

Overall Impression : B-
Socio-economic commentary gets more attention than the human story

Tacoma  - cover


PC, Mac, and Linux (via Steam <, Good Ol' Games, or,
PlayStation 4 (via PSN digital download),
XBox One (via XBox Live digital download).
(< indicates platform I played for review)


Original release date:
1 August 2017

science fiction mystery

single player

Play time:
3 hours

ESRB Rating: M (for Mature 17+) for:
Sexual themes and Strong Language.
MegaBearsFan's parental guidance: appropriate for most audiences due to:
slight innuendo and depictions of a corporate dystopia.

Official site:

Here's another short sci-fi game from my Steam backlog. Tacoma is Fullbright's sci-fi follow up to its masterful walking sim Gone Home. This time around, instead of playing as a young girl discovering the secrets of your family, you play as an agent of a corporate conglomerate sent to retrieve the company's A.I. hard drive from a defunct space station in which an emergency threatened to kill the entire crew. Instead of reading notes and journal entries, you instead replay holographic representations of logs that the station's onboard A.I. recorded of conversations between the station's crew members.

You have to eavesdrop on recorded conversations as holograms move around the station.

The whole process is much more active and player-driven than the exposition of Gone Home (and other walking sims) because the holographic recordings of the characters move around the stations and converse in real time. You don't just walk into a room and read a conspicuously-placed note or listen to passive narration. You'll have to follow the characters between rooms, and keep track of multiple conversations at once as the characters come and go, and as they split up from large group meetings and start to have smaller, more private conversations. Each recording will usually have 2 or 3 independent conversation threads for you to follow. As you follow each character around, you'll also be spying on their personal text messages and emails.

This gives a greater sense of participation from the player (compared to many other walking sims) and provides a greater illusion that you are solving a mystery. That being said, there's nothing too challenging about finding and listening to all the possible conversations. They aren't elaborate puzzles that will take time to figure out. You just follow each character around the space and listen to them. It keeps the player interacting with the game space without ever applying a high bar for progress.

Don't expect to be stumped by the puzzles.

Without spoiling too much, there is only one ending, and you aren't going to be punished for not uncovering all the available evidence. The worst aspect of the game's "walkign sim" nature is that you're also never asked to apply any of the knowledge that you acquire from your investigations other than a handful of numeric combination codes for unlocking doors and the like. These codes are basically just progress gates to provide the illusion that the game has "puzzles", but the early exposure to these key codes will further encourage the player to snoop around more thoroughly for potential clues to future puzzles or progress gates. It isn't very intellectually challenging, but it does encourage the player to pay more attention.

Corporations are not your friend

While most walking sims focus heavily on character backstory, Tacoma emphasizes world-building. First and foremost, the station that you explore feels very real and functional. Its arms rotate to create artificial gravity, it's clear where all the food, oxygen, and water comes from, and there's even a nifty little mechanism for moving quickly between sections of the station. It's a bit unclear if the augmented reality interface is supposed to be some kind of neural implant, or if it's a physical holographic projection, but that's not a big deal. The technology all feels real and achievable in the immediate future.

Tacoma station feels like a place that could exist in the not-so-distant future.

Your investigations of the events leading up to the disaster will reveal a dystopian future of corporatocracy, with companies like Amazon and Costco operating universities whose diplomas are only useful as references for jobs within that specific company. It's a world in which the law protects corporations so thoroughly that they can essentially blackmail employees into breaking the law under threat of being fired or demoted. And since education and credentials earned by one corporation are not necessarily transferable to other corporations, being fired can mean the end of one's career and livelihood. These companies can literally hold their employee's entire livelihoods hostage.

Tacoma is a game about a runaway corporate culture that cares more about the company's stock price than about the lives of its employees -- let alone their dignity. This, in particular, is a message that hits particularly hard when playing Tacoma in 2021 (as I did), at the [hopefully] tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic. This past year saw companies like Amazon and Tyson Foods force workers into cramped working conditions in which safe social distancing was impossible, so that the companies could keep their [already dangerous or unhealthy] warehouses and assembly lines operating at high efficiency. Amazon, by the way, is one of several corporations that is specifically name-dropped in Tacoma.

It's thoroughly disgusting, but unlike another recent sci-fi game that I played (>Observer_), Tacoma's corporate dystopia feels much closer and more imminent. While >Observer_ dealt with high concept sci-fi ideas like transhumanism, Tacoma deals with the much more relevant issues of jobs being replaced by automation and employers using your Facebook posts as if it were your resume.

Tacoma depicts a scary future corporate dystopia that could be reality before we know it.

While I appreciated the socio-economic commentary, it does come at the cost of human characterization. You still learn a lot about the human characters, their relationships, and their struggles, but I just never felt as emotionally connected to these characters compared to the characters of Gone Home. The player avatar has a certain professional distance, and the crisis situation on the station means that all the characters have to promptly put most of their personal issues on hiatus while they try to save their lives. We only get brief glimpses of the characters' personal lives, and very little of their normal interactions and relationships with each other. The end result is a game that feels a lot less intimate than Gone Home, and therefore lacks the emotional punch that helped make Gone Home so affecting. It's a shame too because the game is mechanically more engaging at the same time that is is narratively less engaging.

Lesbian innuendo is apparently enough for the ESRB
to flag this game with "sexual themes" and rate it "Mature".

A "mature" rating from the ESRB?!

I would be remiss in my review if I don't rant a little bit about my complete and utter befuddlement that the ESRB saw fit to give the PS4 release of this game a "Mature" rating, citing "sexual themes" and "strong language". Maybe there was a "fuck" or two dropped here or there, and a few "shits", but not enough to warrant the video game equivalent of an "R" rating. As for the "sexual content", the only thing that I could think of that might have triggered somebody at the ESRB is that there is a lesbian couple who share a bunk, and have a sign posted outside their quarters saying "If this bunk's a rockin', don't come a-knockin'." And I think there was a holographic kiss or two. This game was released in 2017! What Puritanical homophobe at the ESRB thought that little bit of innuendo makes the game inappropriate for anybody under 17?!

Heck, you can find packs of cigarettes and empty bags of wine around the station, but yet the ESRB didn't bother to include a "drugs or alcohol" warning in the rating. I know the ESRB isn't perfect, and that it's going to miss things here and there. But this isn't a 90+-hour open world live service that takes place on a thousand square kilometer map and that gets significant updates every month such that everybody's play experience is going to be very different. This is a 3-hour walking simulator that takes place in about a dozen individual rooms and their interlinking hallways. Does the PS4 version have a log that depicts some explicit sex scene that isn't in the PC game? According to the Steam achievements, I got all the crew logs when I played, so I didn't miss anything.

... But no warning for the tobacco or alcohol references?

Seriously, what the heck game did the ESRB play?! This review is more "mature" than the bloody game!

OK, I was curious and did some research after writing this review, but before publishing it. Apparently the lesbian couple also keeps a vibrator hidden next to their bed. I didn't find it in my playthrough. I guess it's a testament to America's puritanical fear of sex that such a small detail is enough warrant restricting the sale of a game to minors, yet it's apparently OK for those same kids to shoot each other with guns all day in Fortnite (which is rated by the ESRB as appropriate for "teens"), while also engaging in real-money gambling with loot boxes.

A space mystery

Tacoma frames itself much more as a mystery game compared to Gone Home. Gone Home spills its beans relatively early in its story, and then largely becomes a very personal and compelling "coming of age" story. Tacoma holds back its twists till the very end, and thus can more realistically call itself a "mystery" game; though it's not hard to see the particular twist coming. I do have to say that I am relieved to play an artsy indie game that has a straight-forward ending. So many of these games insist on throwing in some pretentious, ambiguous ending that can be interpreted in multiple ways. Not so with Tacoma. It has a message that it wants to tell, and it communicates that message in no uncertain terms, then it ends before it wears out its welcome.

Without spoiling too much, it's also nice to see a dystopian sci-fi future that actually has a relatively optimistic outlook regarding how humans will actually treat each other. This sort of story can (and so often has) fallen into the trap of writing characters to bicker and distrust each other and follow a "screw you, I got mine!" philosophy in how they react to a communal crisis. That doesn't happen in this game. The shared crisis brings all these characters of different demographics and backgrounds closer together, and despite each having their own personal baggage, they each do whatever they can to benefit the group. Even the on-board A.I. ends up being less belligerent than early-game clues would seem to imply! In fact, that's kind of the whole point of the game: that worker solidarity is the only way to fight back against systemic corporate oppression. This slight flicker of optimism is a light at the end of a tunnel that could have been entirely dark, nihilistic, and depressing.

It just goes to show that Fullbright is one of the masters of the emerging walking sim genre, and that confidence is apparent in the way that their games communicate their stories. Their environmental design, the way that I feel like my curiosity and light exploration earns new details about the story instead of it being handed to me with zero effort, and the pacing out of information is just so good at drawing the player into the experience (at least, it has been for me). All of that is just as true in Tacoma as it is in Gone Home. The "walking sim" genre may be summarily dismissed by some gamers out there, but Fullbright does it about as well as anybody, and I look forward to playing their future projects.

Other Game Reviews I've Published

>Observer_>Observer_12 Minutes12 Minutes
35mm35mmAce Combat 7Ace Combat 7
ADR1FTADR1FTAlan WakeAlan Wake
Alan Wake 2Alan Wake 2Alien: IsolationAlien: Isolation
Alone In The DarkAlone In The DarkAmnesia: a Machine for PigsAmnesia: a Machine for Pigs
Amnesia: RebirthAmnesia: RebirthAmnesia: The BunkerAmnesia: The Bunker
Amnesia: the Dark DescentAmnesia: the Dark DescentAmong the SleepAmong the Sleep
Assassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IIIAssassin's Creed IV: Black FlagAssassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed: OriginsAssassin's Creed: OriginsAssassin's Creed: ValhallaAssassin's Creed: Valhalla
Atomic SocietyAtomic SocietyAxis Football 18Axis Football 18
Axis Football 2019Axis Football 2019Axis Football 2020Axis Football 2020
Axis Football 2021Axis Football 2021Axis Football 2023Axis Football 2023
Axis Football 2024Axis Football 2024Back to the Future Episode OneBack to the Future Episode One
Backbreaker FootballBackbreaker FootballBanishedBanished
Batman: Arkham CityBatman: Arkham CityBattlefield 1Battlefield 1
Blair WitchBlair WitchBloodborneBloodborne
Bloodborne: the Old HuntersBloodborne: the Old HuntersCall of Duty World War IICall of Duty World War II
CatherineCatherineCities SkylinesCities Skylines
Cities Skylines IICities Skylines IICities Skylines: After DarkCities Skylines: After Dark
Cities Skylines: AirportsCities Skylines: AirportsCities Skylines: CampusCities Skylines: Campus
Cities Skylines: Financial Districts + World TourCities Skylines: Financial Districts + World TourCities Skylines: Green CitiesCities Skylines: Green Cities
Cities Skylines: Hotels & RetreatsCities Skylines: Hotels & RetreatsCities Skylines: IndustriesCities Skylines: Industries
Cities Skylines: Mass TransitCities Skylines: Mass TransitCities Skylines: Natural DisastersCities Skylines: Natural Disasters
Cities Skylines: ParklifeCities Skylines: ParklifeCities Skylines: Plazas & PromenadesCities Skylines: Plazas & Promenades
Cities Skylines: SnowfallCities Skylines: SnowfallCities Skylines: Sunset HarborCities Skylines: Sunset Harbor
Cities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4Cities: Skylines: Match Day & ver. 1.4CitiesXL & Cities XXLCitiesXL & Cities XXL
ControlControlCrusader Kings IIICrusader Kings III
Dark SoulsDark SoulsDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLCDark Souls Artorias of the Abyss DLC
Dark Souls IIDark Souls IIDark Souls II: Scholar of the First SinDark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
Dark Souls IIIDark Souls IIIDark Souls III: Ashes of AriandelDark Souls III: Ashes of Ariandel
Dark Souls III: the Ringed CityDark Souls III: the Ringed CityDarker SkiesDarker Skies
Dawn of ManDawn of ManDead Space (2023)Dead Space (2023)
Dead Space 2Dead Space 2Death StrandingDeath Stranding
Death's GambitDeath's GambitDeliver Us The MoonDeliver Us The Moon
Demon's SoulsDemon's SoulsDemon's Souls (PS5)Demon's Souls (PS5)
Devil May Cry 5Devil May Cry 5Disco ElysiumDisco Elysium
DmC (Devil May Cry)DmC (Devil May Cry)DOOM (2016)DOOM (2016)
DreadOutDreadOutElden RingElden Ring
Endling: Extinction Is ForeverEndling: Extinction Is ForeverEvent [0]Event [0]
F.T.L. (Faster Than Light)F.T.L. (Faster Than Light)Fallout 4Fallout 4
Fallout ShelterFallout ShelterFar Cry PrimalFar Cry Primal
Final Fantasy VII RemakeFinal Fantasy VII RemakeFinal Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy XVFirewatchFirewatch
Five Nights at Freddy'sFive Nights at Freddy'sGame of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)Game of Thrones (Telltale series 1-2)
Ghost of TsushimaGhost of TsushimaGod of War (2018)God of War (2018)
God of War IIIGod of War IIIGone HomeGone Home
Gran Turismo 7Gran Turismo 7Grand Theft Auto VGrand Theft Auto V
Green Hell VRGreen Hell VRHell Let LooseHell Let Loose
Hellblade: Senua's SacrificeHellblade: Senua's SacrificeHer StoryHer Story
HumankindHumankindImagine EarthImagine Earth
Kayak VR MirageKayak VR MirageKingdom Come: DeliveranceKingdom Come: Deliverance
L.A. NoireL.A. NoireLayers Of Fear 2Layers Of Fear 2
Legend BowlLegend BowlLetters To A Friend: FarewellLetters To A Friend: Farewell
Lifeless PlanetLifeless PlanetLollipop ChainsawLollipop Chainsaw
Mad MaxMad MaxMadden NFL 11Madden NFL 11
Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 12Madden NFL 13Madden NFL 13
Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 15Madden NFL 16Madden NFL 16
Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 17Madden NFL 18Madden NFL 18
Madden NFL 19Madden NFL 19Madden NFL 20Madden NFL 20
Madden NFL 21Madden NFL 21Madden NFL 22Madden NFL 22
Madden NFL 23Madden NFL 23Madden NFL 24Madden NFL 24
MADiSONMADiSONMars Rover LandingMars Rover Landing
Marvel's Spider-ManMarvel's Spider-ManMarvel's Spider-Man 2Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles MoralesMarvel's Spider-Man: Miles MoralesMaster of Orion: Conquer the StarsMaster of Orion: Conquer the Stars
Maximum Football 2018Maximum Football 2018Maximum Football 2019Maximum Football 2019
Maximum Football2020Maximum Football2020Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom PainMetal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain
MiasmataMiasmataMiddle-Earth: Shadow of MordorMiddle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Middle-Earth: Shadow of WarMiddle-Earth: Shadow of WarMonster Hunter: WorldMonster Hunter: World
Moons of MadnessMoons of MadnessNCAA Football 11NCAA Football 11
NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 12NCAA Football 13NCAA Football 13
NFL Pro EraNFL Pro EraNiohNioh
No Man's SkyNo Man's SkyObservationObservation
Outer WildsOuter WildsOuter Wilds: Echoes of the EyeOuter Wilds: Echoes of the Eye
OutlastOutlastPacific DrivePacific Drive
Papers, PleasePapers, PleasePortal 2Portal 2
Project Wingman: Frontline-59Project Wingman: Frontline-59Red Dead RedemptionRed Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption IIRed Dead Redemption IIResident Evil 2Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 3Resident Evil 3Resident Evil RemasteredResident Evil Remastered
Resident Evil VII: BiohazardResident Evil VII: BiohazardResident Evil VIII VillageResident Evil VIII Village
Return of the Obra DinnReturn of the Obra DinnRock Band 3Rock Band 3
Room 404Room 404Sekiro: Shadows Die TwiceSekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Settlement SurvivalSettlement SurvivalShadow of the Colossus (2018)Shadow of the Colossus (2018)
Sid Meier's Civilization VSid Meier's Civilization VSid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New WorldSid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & KingsSid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & KingsSid Meier's Civilization VISid Meier's Civilization VI
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering StormSid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering StormSid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and FallSid Meier's Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond EarthSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond EarthSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising TideSid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Rising Tide
Silent Hill 4: the RoomSilent Hill 4: the RoomSilent Hill HD CollectionSilent Hill HD Collection
Silent Hill: Shattered MemoriesSilent Hill: Shattered MemoriesSilent Hill: The Short MessageSilent Hill: The Short Message
Silicon DreamsSilicon DreamsSillent Hill DownpourSillent Hill Downpour
SimCity (2013)SimCity (2013)SimCity BuilditSimCity Buildit
SomaSomaSong of HorrorSong of Horror
Spider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Edge of TimeSpider-Man: Shattered DimensionsSpider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
Star Trek ResurgenceStar Trek ResurgenceStar Trek TrexelsStar Trek Trexels
Star Wars Battlefront IIStar Wars Battlefront IIStar Wars Jedi Fallen OrderStar Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Star Wars SquadronsStar Wars SquadronsStellarisStellaris
Stellaris mod: New HorizonsStellaris mod: New HorizonsStranded DeepStranded Deep
The Amazing Spider-ManThe Amazing Spider-ManThe Amazing Spider-Man 2The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The Callisto ProtocolThe Callisto ProtocolThe Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLCThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLCThe Evil WithinThe Evil Within
The Evil Within 2The Evil Within 2The Last GuardianThe Last Guardian
The Last of UsThe Last of UsThe Last of Us Part IIThe Last of Us Part II
The Outer WorldsThe Outer WorldsThe SaboteurThe Saboteur
The SwapperThe SwapperThe Twilight Zone VRThe Twilight Zone VR
The Witcher 3 expansionsThe Witcher 3 expansionsThe Witcher 3: Wild HuntThe Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This War of MineThis War of MineThis War of Mine: the Little OnesThis War of Mine: the Little Ones
Tomb Raider (2013)Tomb Raider (2013)Total War: AttilaTotal War: Attila
Total War: Rome IITotal War: Rome IITotal War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2
Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the SamuraiTotal War: Shogun 2: Fall of the SamuraiTrineTrine
Tropico 5Tropico 5U-BoatU-Boat
Ultimate General: Civil WarUltimate General: Civil WarUncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionUncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Until DawnUntil DawnVirginiaVirginia
VisageVisageWhat Remains of Edith FinchWhat Remains of Edith Finch

Contribute Comment


We'll incarnate your avatar from the services below.
PlayStation Network Steam Xbox LIVE Facebook MySpace Pinterest Twitter YouTube deviantART LiveJournal

  • Comment
  • Preview

Grid Clock Widget
12      60
11      55
10      50
09      45
08      40
07      35
06      30
05      25
04      20
03      15
02      10
01      05
Grid Clock provided by trowaSoft.

A gamer's thoughts

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

Check out my YouTube content at

Follow me on Twitter at:


If you enjoy my content, please consider Supporting me on Patreon:

FTC guidelines require me to disclose that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made by clicking on Amazon product links on this site. All Amazon Associate links are for products relevant to the given blog post, and are usually posted because I recommend the product.

Without Gravity

And check out my colleague, David Pax's novel Without Gravity on his website!

Featured Post

The Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season RecruitingThe Humanity of NCAA Football's In-Season Recruiting08/01/2022 If you're a fan of college football video games, then I'm sure you're excited by the news from early 2021 that EA will be reviving its college football series. They will be doing so without the NCAA license, and under the new title, EA Sports College Football. I guess Bill Walsh wasn't available for licensing either? Expectations...

Random Post

CenturyLink is the scummiest company that I've ever dealt withCenturyLink is the scummiest company that I've ever dealt with03/20/2018 Internet service providers have a reputation for being some of the worst, most un-ethically-run companies in the country. I hadn't imagined that a company could be worse than Cox Communications. As a child, pretty much every time my dad had to call them for any problems, they refused to take any responsibility for their poor...

Month List

Recent Comments

Comment RSS