The Portland, Oregon-based indie developer Fullbright includes several veterans of 2K Marin who worked on the single-player BioShock 2 expansion Minerva’s Den. So it wasn’t surprising that Fullbright’s first game, 2013’s Gone Home, shared many elements with the BioShock games. Setting and mystery were key: Gone Home was a first-person adventure game that had players exploring an empty mansion to discover messages and clues that reveal what happened to the house’s inhabitants. That same combination of exploration and unlocking a place’s recent history seem to also be at the core of Fullbright’s next game, the prosaically titled Tacoma.
Tacoma was first announced at the December 2014 Game Awards. The title refers to Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, a space station located some 200,000 miles from Earth. Very little has been revealed about Tacoma at this point, but the above trailer was unveiled at E3 2015 earlier today, and it immediately draws comparisons to not only BioShock, but also to the upcoming game back in December was very much just a brief tease, showing a female character entering the titular space station. This new E3 video takes us beyond that point, but still leaves plenty of questions to be answered.
The female protagonist is seen wandering a Tacoma station that seems to be almost entirely empty. That’s clearly not the norm for the station, as she asks ODIN — apparently an artificial intelligence or “simulated personality” control interface of some sort — where the hell everybody is. In the grand tradition of uncooperative A.I.s that stretch back at least to 2001‘s HAL-9000, ODIN explains that that information is classified. Well, thanks a lot, buddy. It remains to be seen whether ODIN is merely unhelpful or if he crosses over into GLaDOS territory and actively becomes homicidal.
One big puzzler is the who or what the colorful humanoid silhouettes seen near the halfway mark are. The blue one is labeled with a woman’s name and face, and tagged “MEDIC,” but it’s unclear what all that means at this point. Could these be other players, comprising some form of co-op or multiplayer? Or maybe traces of other crew members from the station, perhaps holograms retracing their steps or actions in a sort of visual record that will help the protagonist figure out what happened to Tacoma’s inhabitants?
Zero-gravity will definitely play a role in Tacoma, something that’s evident from the start thanks to all the debris hanging in mid-air around the station. With the exception of one clear zero-g sequence later in the trailer, however, the first-person movement doesn’t seem to be floating freely, so we’re guessing most of the time the main character will be walking like normal, thanks to gravity boots or something similar, with the full freedom of zero-g reserved for specific sequences. That should help set it apart from the aforementioned Adrift, which looks to be all zero-g, all the time.
There’s no sign of combat, and it certainly would be consistent with Fullbright’s style for the gameplay to focus solely on exploration and puzzle-solving. Still, something ominous happened to the crew of Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma, so there’s still a chance that Tacoma will involve more than just floating around interrogating ODIN.
The trailer culminates in the protagonist hacking open a huge hatchway and asking, “ODIN, what am I going to find behind this door?” The hatch then cycles open to blinding light. Clearly something important is behind that door, but we’ll obviously be waiting a while to find out exactly what.
Tacoma will debut on PC and Xbox One in 2016, and it will head to Linux and Mac at a later date.