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text 2017-10-21 22:41
Game/Interactive story review: Tacoma

 

I suppose you could call Tacoma an adventure game, although it more of an interactive story than a game. There are a few instances where you need to figure out people’s passcodes, but they’re so easy to figure out that they don’t really count as puzzles.

You play as Amy Ferrier, a contractor sent to Tacoma station by Venturis, the company that owns Tacoma. A short while ago an accident happened and the station, which had housed six human employees, one AI named ODIN, and a cat, is now abandoned. Your job is to explore the station and retrieve AI-recorded data and ODIN’s wetware.

The AI-recorded data takes the form of recordings that your augmented reality device allows you to see as though you’re glimpsing into the station’s past. All the characters are represented by colored silhouettes of themselves. You can rewind and fastforward in order to follow different people and occasionally access their emails and other files.

I can’t say too much about the story because it’s fairly simple and it’d be too easy to give everything away. The big question, as you’re playing, is what happened and whether anyone survived. Although you play as Amy, you aren’t privy to her thoughts. She knows more about the situation and what’s going on than you do, but it’s okay, because nothing in the game prevents you from taking as much time as you’d like in each area of the station. Just make sure you don’t leave a particular part of the station until you’ve done everything you want to do - I’m fairly certain you can’t go back or, if you can, AR data will no longer be accessible in that area.

As you travel through the station, you learn more about each of the characters: E.V., the station administrator; Clive, the operations specialist; Natali, the network specialist; Roberta (Bert), the mechanical engineer; Andrew, the botanist; and Sareh, the medic. You also get to see them interact with ODIN and, if you purchased the game through Steam, you can try to find the station cat in order to get one of the Steam achievements. I had fun trying to think of where the cat might decide to nap in each area, although I did worry that I'd end up witnessing its death. (Spoiler:

the cat makes it through just fine.)

(spoiler show)


The cast is diverse, both in terms of race and sexual orientation. As you look through their belongings (to whatever degree you’d like - I was curious and it didn’t feel too creepy, so I looked through every drawer and locker I could), you find out more about how they all got along and what their problems and issues were. My favorite character out of the bunch was probably Sareh, who had anxiety and panic attacks due to an event in her past, but who was still competent and professional despite that. I really liked her and ODIN’s interactions, even as I worried about ODIN being the only one she could confide in.

As someone who loves AI characters, I enjoyed ODIN and I loved the role he played in the story. I did find myself wishing for a bit more from him - players don’t get much of his perspective until the very end of the game.

Tacoma is very short. Even though I spent quite a bit of time exploring and looking at unimportant things like random packages, wrappers, and coffee mugs, I finished the whole thing (minus a few Steam achievements) in about four hours. That said, my biggest complaint about the game wasn’t the length, but rather how playing the game affected me physically.

When I first started, I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes or so before developing headaches and nausea. I tried messing with the Gameplay and Graphics settings, turning off “head bob” and trying out different FOV settings, but it only seemed to help a little. The best solution I found was actually remembering to wear my glasses while playing. I don’t usually wear them at home and rarely wear them while watching TV or playing games, and it almost never causes a problem. In this case, though, it turns out they were vital. They never completely got rid of my headache and nausea problem, but without them I’d probably still be creeping my way through the game in 20-minute increments.

All in all, this was a simple and fairly short story told in a fascinating way. I loved getting to find out what happened in bits and pieces via AR data, files, notes, ads, and emails. Although I found myself wishing that the story had been a little bit more flexible and allowed for other endings, I was happy with the one ending players were given.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-10-18 21:38
Great Tales of the Peculiar
Tales of the Peculiar - Ransom Riggs

I swear if Riggs had included more stories like this in his trilogy I would have ended up liking the series a lot better. We get to read about tales that are put together by one of the characters we read about in Miss Peregrine's series. "Tales of the Peculiar" is supposedly written by a former Miss Peregrine ward, Millard Nullings. I don't know if you all know about him. But he was the character that was invisible. I would suggest reading the series before this book since there is not that great of an introduction before you plunge into these tales. 

 

The Splendid Cannibals (5 stars)-Definitely a cautionary tale about greed in this one. I did like the story of a village of peculiars selling their body parts (they grow back) to cannibals who tire of eating rotting body parts. I did laugh though at the villagers trying to one up each other with how stylish their homes were getting. 

 

The Fork Tongued Princess (5 stars)-I would love to read a follow-up story about this character. A gorgeous princess with a forked tongue and scales being treated like a monster by her father and her fiancee. When she is revealed to be a monster, she eventually has to run away to seek a better life. She at one point says that she is through with princes, and when you see what she is put through, you can see why. It though is ultimately a tale of forgiveness. 

 

The First Ymbryne (5 stars)-We find out about these birds that could become humans and how they changed life better for the peculiars. I loved reading about how loops were discovered. This could have been a really cool pre-cool book for the series. But I actually like it better as a short story. 

 

The Woman Who Befriended Ghosts (4 stars)-An okay story, it was fairly short I thought. I loved the idea of a young woman who could see and speak to ghosts. She gets a pretty happy ending too. 

 

Cocobolo (5 stars)-I don't want to give anything away. But I loved this one! So original and I was worried about how it would end, but it ended happily. I think. 

 

The Pigeons of St. Paul's (3.5 stars)-Another short one compared to other stories. I think this was originally in one of the books. I don't feel like looking it up. Okay story, but compared to the other stories, not as great. 

 

The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares (5 stars)-This one made me shiver. Plus we got an alternate ending which was straight up horror when you read it. Loved it. 

 

The Locust (4 stars)-This is a tale about loving your peculiar children or bad things can happen. I liked the ending though I was surprised Riggs didn't give us another alternative horror one after the last story. 


The Boy Who Could Hold Back the Sea (4 stars)-I thought this was a pretty cool story. A boy who could control the sea and all of the problems it brings him. 

 

The Tale of Cuthbert (3.5 stars)-Only because I read this before I think in book #2 of the series and I already knew how it ended. 

 

I found the illustrations to be beautiful in this e-book. I would love to see the gold lettering and illustrations in a hardcover. 

 

Loved this little trip back to Miss Peregrine and her children. 

 

 

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text 2017-10-18 19:52
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Tales of the Peculiar - Ransom Riggs

This was a great collection of short stories!

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text 2017-10-18 16:03
Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
Tales of the Peculiar - Ransom Riggs

I am reading this for "Free Space/Creepy Raven" square. So far so good. I like this a lot more than books #2 and #3. This includes some really cool illustrations too. At least Riggs resisted the urge to put in creepy photos that it tries to make the story fit around.

 

"The Splendid Cannibals" (5 stars)-A tale of warning to those who decided that selling their body parts (they grow back) to a group of hungry cannibals can end up with you living as just a type of vegetable that they water now and again.

 

"The Fork-Tongued Princess" (5 stars)-I really wanted this princess to kick the crap out of the worthless princes she came across. I would love a longer story about her. The ending was so fun. 

 

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