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Best Namesake: Tacoma the game

Writer's pick: Best of Tacoma 2018

Game characters Sareh (in blue) and E.V. (purple) float through Tacoma station. Note the sign above Sareh. Photo Courtesy Fullbright

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The year is 2088. Your name is Amitjyoti ("Amy") Ferrier. You've been assigned by the Venturis Corporation to salvage AI hardware from its seemingly empty station in earth orbit, specifically the strategic L1 point en route to the moon. Aiding you in your retrieval efforts is an augmented-reality device that lets you download and replay audiovisual records of the station's six-member complement. You're the curious type, it turns out, and you'd like to know where those six people went. Are they alive? Are they dead? Why did they make plans to abandon the station? Your level of curiosity may increase when you learn the name of the station: Tacoma.

That's the setup for the 2017 computer game Tacoma, created by the Portland, Oregon, independent studio Fullbright. Steve Gaynor was head writer and co-director; he was the writer and lead designer for Fullbright's previous exploration game, Gone Home, as well as for a downloadable BioShock 2 campaign called Minerva's Den. Originally, Gaynor planned to create a game similar to Down Home and set it in Tacoma, Washington. As exploration games became more commonplace, however, the Fullbright team elected to explore a less conventional environment. Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma boasts design elements reminiscent of BioShock's submarine setting Rapture and the grimy Nostromo from Alien. Portions of the game take place in microgravity, and the augmented-reality videos are both beautiful and dramatically compelling.

"In our fiction, there is a notable aerospace manufacturing hub in the Tacoma area," says Sarah Robertson, Fullbright's operations manager, "and, as much of the hardware for the titular station was manufactured in Tacoma, that's how it got named. One of the space station crew's family happens to be from Tacoma as well."

Reviews of the game showered it with high marks for storytelling and voice acting, griping only about its short play duration (less than 95 minutes). It's a fascinating attempt at redefining what it means to play a game. As Amy, your job is to unlock files from the station's troubled history, including moments Venturis may not want you to see, and the narrative overlaps to view the same minutes from differing perspectives. Imagine watching a beautifully designed and realized sci-fi flick. Now imagine focusing on each significant character in turn, working your way comprehensively through the story, one scene at a time. While Amy (voiced by Sarah Grayson) is seldom at risk of dying herself, she finds herself in increasingly vulnerable positions, so her trip home may not be guaranteed.

Tacoma is recommended and available for download from,, PS4, Steam or Xbox One.

TACOMA, Fullbright for Linux, Mac, PS4, Windows and Xbox One,, $19.99

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