Reviews - Updated on April 9, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

In the Neo Cab universe, live taxi drivers are practically no longer needed – instead of them, people are picked up and transported around the city by cars controlled by artificial intelligence. And with robots, no matter how perfect they are, you can’t talk heart to heart, you can’t discuss serious topics and you won’t share your own thoughts. The appearance of a taxi driver named Lina in Los Ojos comes as a surprise to its inhabitants and could be a great happiness for herself, but almost immediately after her arrival, her best friend Savi disappears without a trace.

And to hell with her

The heroine searches for Sevi throughout the game, but almost everything that has nothing to do with the main storyline turns out to be much more interesting. The plot is intriguing when, a few minutes after the start, you find a broken girlfriend’s phone and think that an exciting detective story with unexpected twists is waiting for you. But in reality, the plot is slightly disappointing, and you expect something more from the ending – perhaps the problem is in timing, and the developers simply did not have time to fit a decent story in the novel for several hours.

Fortunately, everything else is done much better. Since we take on the role of a taxi driver, and even the only living representative of this profession in the city, we will have to constantly communicate with people. And how wonderful these conversations are sometimes! Neo Cab regularly brings up topics related to the monopoly of a large corporation and how different people suffer or prosper due to this. Some people hate the company Capra, which manufactures these newfangled taxis, someone does not like cars at all and turns to the help of drivers only as a last resort.

It is difficult to remember at least one unsuccessful character – all passengers are unique. There is a girl imprisoned by her mother in some kind of heavy spacesuit, from which it is impossible to get out on her own, and the camera installed on it records all her actions. There is a member of the worm cult who is happy only when everything in his life is bad. There is a woman discussing endless timelines. The company turned out to be motley, and these strange characters do not seem so eccentric in the world of the future. In addition to them, there are enough “realistic” heroes, but they are all equally good.

Not an imitation of life

As a driver, we start the day by looking at the map and choosing who we want to pick up. It’s just that they don’t allow you to travel here on your own – Lina does this routine without our help, and we only communicate with passengers. Someone may not like such a restriction, but the developers did not try to offer a taxi driver simulator – first of all, this is a simulator of a living person in a world where you have to contact less and less with living people. Therefore, the entire gameplay consists entirely of dialogues, with very rare exceptions – sometimes you need to visit a gas station and choose a place to sleep, spending the money earned per day.Neo Cab game review

Some people cannot do without the technologies of the future.

Before her disappearance, Savi gives Lina a special Feelgrid bracelet, the name of which fully describes the technology used in it. With it, you can quickly understand what mood the main character is currently in. If the bracelet turns green, she is calm. Blue – sadness or depression. Red is anger or anxiety, and yellow is a good, cheerful mood. Anything can change the state of mind: the mention of Capra in most cases will start to anger Lina, and a good joke or positive thoughts will certainly cheer you up. The farther from the center the color is located, the stronger the emotion, and usually these changes are fully consistent with what is happening in the car.

Conversations with passengers are overflowing with options for choice of lines. Sometimes, due to the mood of the heroine, some answers may not be available – either she will not want to be frankly rude, or she will not become too kind to the client who annoyed her for five minutes. Or, conversely, being cheerful and cheerful, Lina will be able to give an answer that would otherwise be blocked. This usually doesn’t affect the gameplay much, but it does make the dialogue more alive – actions have consequences, and when you treat a passenger well, you will have one opportunity (or several) to use it in a conversation.

It’s not an easy job

What affects the gameplay is the ratings given to you after the trip by the passengers. Much depends on your reactions to the characters’ lines. Someone is talking complete nonsense, but clearly believes in it? Either be honest and speak up, or constantly go along and be on the same wavelength with him to get five stars instead of three. Is someone making a mistake? Take a chance and dissuade him, but who knows if he will agree or send you to hell? Above the precious rating, which at the beginning of the game is the perfect five stars, you shake like in real life. You hope that you did everything right and get an enthusiastic review, or you get upset because of a low rating, but you still believe in your rightness and continue to work.Neo Cab game review

The assessment and attitude of the passenger may depend on this choice.

At the same time, stressful situations never arise in Neo Cab – the game is very calm, time is unlimited, and the music does not bother. In addition to it, there are practically no sounds at all, except that you sometimes hear the roar of the engine. In many other games, this would be a significant drawback, but here the absence of any noise only makes the atmosphere more peaceful. While this makes the dialogue easier to read, it’s a pity there isn’t a menu that lets you reread the last five or ten lines—pressing the button to speed up the dialog sometimes unintentionally skips a phrase.

The game looks modest. The characters caricaturely change their faces, depicting emotions, and the city of Los Ojos seems to consist of exactly the same streets and houses – wherever the characters pass, the environment is the same. Moreover, in the dialogues we can talk about standing crowds, a bunch of policemen, an abandoned restaurant or something else, but in reality you don’t see anything of this – the game tells more than it shows. The actions of the taxi driver also do not correspond to her conversations with passengers – if she says that she will now turn right, in fact the car will continue to go forward. A trifle, but it still looks strange – sometimes the car still changes direction, but it’s not entirely clear why this does not happen at the right moments.

However, all these are not the most significant shortcomings – after all, in a story game, the narrative is most important. And with this, Neo Cab (except for the main story) has no problems. Heroes that you once threw to the right place can later be caught again, and often you rejoice at the next meeting with them. I wonder how they cope with their problems, what they decided to change after your last conversation, what mood they have. Here you really feel that the residents of Los Ojos miss live communication, they can share something secret, and you yourself decide whether you need to talk about a friend who left to the mercy of fate, or is it just your business.

The heroine also parks herself, no need to press anything.

***

The Neo Cab is best described as “cozy” – it’s a light, slightly unkempt, but stylish and enjoyable adventure for an evening or two. It is an adventure – although there is nothing really here except for conversations, getting into an unfamiliar city and meeting completely different and unusual people cannot be called otherwise. The authors revealed the topic of monopoly corporations that control every action of the citizens, and clearly showed how badly they all need to communicate with living people, who cannot be replaced by any soulless machine. The game copes with its task, even if it’s impossible to give five stars for this trip.

Pros: cozy atmosphere with great music; interesting passengers with whom you want to spend time at least once more; the theme of mega-corporations and their influence on the townspeople is great revealed through the gameplay; an original idea with a bracelet showing the mood.

Cons: you expect something more from the main plot; poor visual component.

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