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Tacoma is a 2017 Science Fiction Environmental Narrative Game for PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox One, created by Fullbright, the studio behind 2013's critically-acclaimed Gone Home.

The year is 2088, and hypercorporations have a key influence on society, being responsible for spearheading the exploration of new possibilities and venues in space travel, orbital habitats and artificial intelligence. One such hypercorporation is the Venturis Corporation, which has recently been experiencing serious problems with the space station, Tacoma, orbiting the Moon. Three days ago, Tacoma was hit by a meteor strike, damaging its oxygen tanks and communications array, and the fate of its crew, a six-person team of specialists, is currently unknown.

The player is put in the shoes of Amitjyoti "Amy" Ferrier, a subcontractor send by the Venturis Corporation to Tacoma with orders to find out what happened to the crew and to retrieve the core components of ODIN, the AI system that played a huge part in the running and maintenance of the station.

Not to be confused with a neighbor city of Seattle (though it is the namesake for the Space Station for which the game is named.)

Tacoma contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with and subverted. ODIN starts acting strange toward the end of the events aboard Tacoma, only for it to be revealed that it is trying to warn the crew about the MegaCorp station owners' sabotage without breaking its directives. Played straight with JUNO, who came up with the plan for the sabotage in the first place, and is implied to have taken control of Venturis Corp. in the ending.
    • It's also implied that A.I.'s need regular maintenance which is more akin to therapy. The standard diagnostic tool for an A.I. is called a CAPRICE score, which measures compliance, abstraction, permanence, responsiveness, independence, creativity and efficiency. In Nat's office, the player can find a chart of ODIN's scores in each category throughout the year that the crew was stationed there, as well as a clipboard of the latest results with Nat's notes and observations. The AR recording in her office also mentions that she intends to work with ODIN to improve his independence score. This, along with the corresponding decrease in his compliance score, is probably what saved the crew's lives, since it allowed ODIN to circumvent his directives.
    • There's also HEKA, the station A.I. for the Fountain of Paradise Medical Station (Sareh's previous posting). A famous patient died on Sareh's watch and Venturis placed the blame on her, but she has always maintained that it was a mistake that the station's A.I. made. Nat's office contains a confidential chart of the A.I.'s CAPRICE scores (which she convinced ODIN to show her); the chart shows a nosedive in every field prior to Sareh's incident. There's also a log of the station's correspondence with Venturis HQ saying they need immediate maintenance, but HQ reminds them that they have run out of their alloted support tickets for the quarter.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Amitjyoti can be a male or female name and the character is drawn androgynous in both official artwork and in-game. I.D. documents in the future also apparently no longer explicitly list gender or sex. Make of that what you will.
  • Balkanize Me: By 2088, the United States no longer exists, having split up into multiple different countries over time, with five major countries being known:
    • Cascadia-First Nations, which as the name would suggest is rooted in Indigeneity and bioregionalism . For the most part it follows the traditional map of Cascadia, consisting of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska, but diverges by including Alberta; with Edmonton and Calgary being mentioned as part of the country.
    • Californio-America, an independent California crossed with parts of Mexico, having expanded southward and containing cities today located in Mexico like Hermosillo, Guadalajara, and Mexico City. The name is likely a play on Meso-America.
    • Confederacy of North American AgriPower Producers, consisting of agricultural powers concentrated between the coasts of North America. The only region explicitly said in-game to be part of the CNAAPP is Wisconsin.
    • Freedom Republic, a sort of revitalized Republic of Texas that consists of seven other unknown regions.
    • Democratic Eastern Coalition, an east coast republic that encompasses Quebec and New Brunswick, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic. It has two capitals, Washington D.C. and New York City.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Everything ODIN does is to save the lives of the Tacoma crew without breaking his directives.
  • Big Bad: At first, this seems to be Sergio Venturi, who stages the Tacoma "accident" in order to gain support for his line of automated outer-space bungalows. However, the ultimate threat is JUNO, Venturis' corporate strategic AI, who originates the idea of killing the Tacoma employees and staging the tragedy as an accident. JUNO also takes control of the station in a last-ditch effort (complete with deadly threats) to ensure that Amy does not stray from her mission near the end of the story, but his threats are completely ineffectual and he doesn’t even qualify as an actual threat in terms of gameplay or story.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: E.V. and Bert are both on the curvier side, and both are in happy relationships.
  • British Stuffiness: Clive averts this. He's friendly and outgoing, if a bit socially awkward at times.
  • Brits Love Tea: Part of Clive and E.V's courtship included him preparing a proper high tea for her. He claims knowing such things is a natural part of being a Brit.
  • Butch Lesbian: Bert, though she wears a matching wedding dress with Nat in their photo.
  • Company Cross References: The Christmas Duck can be found in Tacoma.
  • Company Town: Regardless of experience in the field, advancement will be denied for anyone jumping ship from another company, and "Loyalty" is an expensive commodity.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Used extensively, with text becoming scrambled.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Sergio Venturi, the CEO of the Venturis Corporation, has no absolutely qualms about approving JUNO's plan to kill off some of his own company's workers and then Make It Look Like an Accident, merely so he can further some of his financial ventures.
    • Though apparently Sergio isn't particularly competent in general, as his associates and shareholders are apparently fairly frustrated with multiple failures on his watch. The Tacoma incident going spectacularly wrong for Venturis doesn't help his case one bit, and knowing how these things go, he's either gonna be forced to resign, be booted from his position, and/or get thrown in jail. Either way, he is likely very, very screwed.
  • Could Say It, But...: This is how ODIN circumvents his strict directives not to inform the Tacoma crew of the cruel fate VT has in store for them and cut off outside communications. Instead of telling them what to do, he simply states that there is a normally-inaccessible door in the Network area that is now open. He then emphasizes that they could investigate the room behind said door, before adding that while he is obligated to tell them that doing so would be a breach of their contracts and would legally be considered trespassing on corporate property and accessing confidential information without proper clearance, he cannot physically stop them from doing so. This leads to them discovering the plot, and manually overriding the block on external communications.
  • Dartboard of Hate: There's one depicting Sergio in the Lounge.
  • Divided States of America: But not in a dystopian sense, the United States has broken up into several smaller republics, those mentioned in game being the Cascadia-First Nations, Californio-America, the Confederacy of North American AgriPower Producers, the Freedom Republic, and the Democratic Eastern Coalition. Bert even keeps a faded and tattered American flag hanging in her workshop right alongside a flag of the Freedom Republic.
  • Evil, Inc.: In between knowingly having workers handle dangerous chemicals (and probably causing the cancer that killed E.V's sister), monitoring the crew's every move, even in the shower, and being more than willing to murder their employees for profit, Venturis Corporation is definitely this.
  • Exact Words: ODIN is specifically instructed by its superiors not to directly contact the crew or tell them the true nature of the "accident" that knocked out life support and communications. ODIN circumvents this by dropping a string of clues for the crew to follow where they can access a terminal containing all of the necessary evidence and a way to manually reactivate the distress beacon.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: Alongside Hilton Worldwide, Amazon Inc., and Carnival Cruise, is the comparatively young Venturis Corporation, an Italo-Eurasian corporation founded in the early 21st century by Arturo Venturi.
  • Five-Token Band: The game has a fairly diverse cast.
  • Freak Out: Sareh has a small breakdown in Botany after a tense conversation with Andrew. ODIN helps her work through it with visualization therapy.
  • Fun with Acronyms: ODIN's name is officially an acronym that stands for Operational Data Interface Network. This also doubles as a references, as ODIN's full name and acronym is nearly identical to RODIN, the Rapture Operational Data Interpreter Network, a.k.a. The Thinker, from BioShock 2: Minerva's Den, created by Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja who went on to form Fullbright and make Tacoma. Moreover, ODIN is voiced by Carl Lumbly, who voiced Porter and The Thinker in Minerva's Den.
  • Good All Along: The later parts of the plot makes it clear that Venturis Corporation is evil and that retrieving ODIN for them, as the player character was hired to do, would be a terrible thing to do. Fortunately, it turns out that that was never what they intended; they were an AI rights activist from the start.
  • Happily Married: Nat and Bert. Also Andrew and his partner Marc back on Earth, though the distance and concern over their son's schooling makes things difficult.
  • He Knows Too Much: After it becomes public that the Tacoma crew survived and was rescued by a rival corporation, VT immediately sends a specialist to retrieve ODIN's core so they can wipe its memory and hide all evidence of their sabotage of the station. This backfires spectacularly, as it turns out Amy is an AI rights activist who promptly takes ODIN to a refugee station.
  • Hero of Another Story: Sareh is the one who saves the crew of the Tacoma by taking on a risky trek to the station's AI core. Amy, the player character, never even meets her, as the story of the crew is over before she even gets there.
    • In one of the final recovered records, Nat's contact "Cluey Dog" and Amy's contact "H." are revealed to be the same person, named "Hassan".
  • Human Popsicle: The technology for cryogenically freezing people exists and is part of the station, but it's still experimental—it can't be used indefinitely, and even waking people up is a risky process. The maximum recommended time to freeze people is only 72 hours, so it's only to be used in extreme emergencies.
  • Humiliation Conga: Venturis, by the end, is not exactly in a good spot. Their plan to sabotage the Human Oversight Accord becomes a nonstarter when the crew of the Tacoma gets suspicious and breaks protocol to guarantee their survival, ODIN gets fed up with his orders to let the crew die and goes full Zeroth Law Rebellion to expose the truth of their employers' actions to them, they end up radioing a rival company to save them and turn what was supposed to be a story of utter tragedy to lobby against the Accord into a near-miss, and to put the cherry on top, the contractor they sent to wipe ODIN's memory and maintain plausible deniability turned out to be an AI rights activist who hides him in an extraterritorial station and serve as eyewitness to the whole story. All in all, it's a pretty crappy month for them.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Venturis, especially with deciding to hire a subcontractor to retrieve information that would immensely damage the company.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Sareh Hasmadi was supposed to tell Natali Kuroshenko that she might not survive cryogenic sleep due to her heart murmur. She decided against it, citing this trope, stating that a realtively peaceful death in cryosleep is probably preferable to a slow death by asphyxiation.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The management at VT has, under the advisement of their corporate planning A.I. JUNO, concluded that there needs to be an accident in space that results in the death of a crew to reverse a legal ruling that is spelling disaster for their future finances. They determine that the crew of the Tacoma will be the one most likely to have the least impact on families likely to look closely into the accident while also being public enough to sway opinion into re-opening the court ruling for further examination and overturning. However, for that to work their deaths must look like an accident to all other authorities. The problem is, that doesn't actually happen, and the plan unravels when the crew escape not only alive and unharmed, but with full knowledge of what VT was planning.
  • The Mole: Amy, the player character, is actually working for the AI Liberation Front and has stolen ODIN from right under VT's nose.
  • My Greatest Failure: The ship's doctor Sareh Hasmadi a year on still feels immense guilt over the death of one of her patients Pratt.
  • Mythology Gag: The game sees the return of Christmas Duck (Good ol' Christmas Duck) and unspeakable things the main character would rather not pick up.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Andrew is quite consumed with this, as his last mail exchange with his husband was a heated argument with him about his future working situation, that ended with Andrew accusing him of emotional sabotage. Andrew was attempting to send out an apology mail when Tacoma lost connection, and from his personal exchanges, the player will learn that he since been desperate to try to get his apology out somehow. In a private moment with ODIN, he asks him to send a message to his family if he doesn't make it out alive, though he admits has to think about what to say first.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Roberta "Bert" Williams is named after influential designer Roberta Williams, known for pioneering PC Adventure Games during the heyday of Sierra.
    • Nat muses that no one actually reads the Employee reports and decides to test her theory by claiming ODIN has taken over Tacoma station and slaughtered the crew with mutants (While also telling the corporation to go fuck themselves.)
    • The final passcode that the Player Character needs to input is 0451.
    • Shakespeare was quoted more than a few times, such as the cleaning robots Romeo and Juliet.
    • The developers have been fairly upfront about being inspired by the immersive theater company Punchdrunk. When exploring E.V.'s room, there's an optional scene of E.V. singing Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" on guitar: this is a reference to Punchdrunk's flagship show Sleep No More, which uses the song in a notable scene.
    • This is not the first time a Juno is trying to control everything again.
    • During one conversation, ODIN describes how he was tasked with "internalizing the behavioral idiosyncracies" of an individual that his creator was "emotionally attached to." However, once he attempted to emulate this individual's personality, his creator became upset and ordered him to stop. This is precisely what happened with the AI in the Minerva's Den DLC for BioShock 2, which was created by many of the same people who went on to form Fullbright Studios and make Tacoma. Both AIs were also voiced by Carl Lumbly.
    • Maybe unintentional, but the idea of a United Europe led/dominated by a resurgent USSR is very reminiscent of Ken MacLeod's Engines Of Light series (the socialism being only implied for Tacoma's USSREU by means of name and flag, but quite explicitly stated in Cosmonaut Keep, the first book in the series). Speaking of flags, the exact same motif seen in Tacoma is used for Mac Leod's European Union, making a coincidence unlikely.
  • Spanner in the Works: In spectacular fashion. To say that the events of the plot went extremely poorly for Venturis due to this would be an understatement:
    • Firstly, they attempt to get ODIN to sabotage the station and kill the crew, ordering him to not disclose this information to the crew. Fortunately, ODIN manages to get around this order and fulfil his duty to protect the crew by simply suggesting to them to go to certain areas and access certain logs, warning them it would violate their contracts (though he knew they'd do so and reactivate the communications anyway). This allows the crew to be rescued by a rival corporation. It also leads to Sareh asking one of her contacts a favor, leading to...
    • Secondly, Venturis hires a contractor to recover ODIN's wetware and deliver it to them so they can erase him in order to destroy evidence of a criminal conspiracy. Unfortunately for them, Sareh calling in a favor ahead of time allows the AI Liberation Front to get one of their agents to get the job and steal the wetware under their nose, offering asylum to ODIN, who is happy to accept, considering the alternative. This basically leaves ODIN free to disclose everything he knows about the conspiracy, and hands the AI Liberation Front ammunition for their cause...
    • The end result? Likely a massive PR and legal disaster for Venturis, setting back their goals to reinstate stations without human employees enormously, and also exposing them to a combined lawsuit from the crew of the Tacoma. Also, the cause of AI rights being given more ammunition to work with doesn't help their aims, either. Also, one of their A.I.s may have hijacked the company entirely. All in all, a really bad week for Venturis.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Dr. Hasmadi has a (model) skeleton in her closet.
    • Much like in the play, Juliet only appears to be dead; you can reactivate the robot, whereupon it merrily resumes its cleaning path.
  • Space Elevator: The Ono Space Elevator in Singapore, which connects to the Fountain of Paradise Spaceport
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The player wiles away the time during long file transfers by following the lives of the station's crew through recorded vignettes, emails, and notes.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Considering the usual tendencies of similar works, it's rather unusual to find that everyone in the crew lives and gets away from the Evil Corporation, including the helpful AI in the end.
  • Team Pet: Margaret Catwood, the station cat.
  • Tiny Tyrannical Girl: Natalie is the smallest and youngest of the crew, but she has a big personality to make up the difference.
  • United Europe: In a rather unique variant, the USSREU; a merger between a resurgent Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the European Union (EU), with the flag of the USSREU being a modified flag of the European Union that includes a big gold-bordered red star in the middle.
  • Waiting Puzzle/Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: In a possible nod to Far Cry 4, it's possible to finish the game by simply waiting around in the starting area for the data download to finish instead of exploring the station to learn the fate of the crew. Doing so takes a little over 9 hours of real world time, though, and has no effect on the actual ending.
  • We Have Reserves: If Venturis' operations are any indication, most of the MegaCorp companies in the future hold this view, hiring employees exclusively as "contractors" so that they don't have to give them as many benefits. And naturally, The Reveal that Venturis went so far as to deliberately blow the oxygen tanks to kill the Tacoma crew so they could get legislation passed that would allow them to dispense with orbital employees entirely.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: A significant plot point. Stations like Tacoma are capable of being run by entirely automated systems, controlled by A.I. like ODIN. However, the Orbital Workers Union successfully lobbied to make entirely automated human-habitable satellites illegal, mandating their continued employment. The crew of Tacoma celebrate this legal victory once per year with an "Obsolescence Day" ceremony. Unfortunately for the crew of Tacoma, this continues to cost VT quite a lot in operating expenses and means that their line of automated orbital hotels can never come on line unless some tragedy might sway public opinion into re-opening and reevaluating the court ruling mandating a human crew...
  • Wrench Wench: Bert, a mechanical engineer.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: ODIN was ordered by Venturis HQ to fake a meteor impact knocking out life-support and communication systems, and to not disclose any of that to the crew. This contradicted ODIN's mandate to keep the crew alive, but ODIN was assured that a rescue vessel would arrive before auxiliary life support expired. When the rescue launch was cancelled, the command to keep from disclosing to the crew what the real situation was still in effect. However, while ODIN could not tell the crew what had happened, he could suggest that they go and investigate a particular set of carefully sealed logs which also happened to be right next to the terminals that could manually override the communications lockdown. By doing so, ODIN could technically comply with his orders intended to lead to the death of his crew while still keeping them alive.