Fullbright’s debut title, the exploratory coming-of-age tale Gone Home, was quietly revolutionary. Founded by a trio of ex-BioShock 2 developers, Fullbright hypothesised that it could make a game like BioShock, only without combat or supernatural elements, and it would still be interesting. It was. While Gone Home wasn’t , it gained a cult following and was at the forefront of a new wave of games such as The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and Firewatch. How do you make another game in the same vein and keep it feeling fresh?
The answer is through time manipulation powers. Pausing, rewinding, and fast-forwarding time has been used far and wide as a game mechanic in titles such as Braid and Quantum Break as well as another recent high-profile game, but outside of a few experimental titles like Majora’s Mask, Life is Strange and The Last Express, it’s rarely been used as a meaningful storytelling device. Tacoma seeks to do for exploring time what Gone Home did for exploring space.
Here’s how that works: in Tacoma you play as an engineer exploring the titular space station after its crew mysteriously disappeared. So far, so Gone Home. The catch is that you don’t just look at props and hear the occasional audio diary narrating the main points of the plot: instead you encounter complex multi-character scenes that play out in real-time as you witness holographic recordings of the vanished crew’s digital representations.