Thank you to Fellow Traveler for providing a review code
Lina has just moved from her small town of Cactus Flats to the big city of Los Ojos to room with her best friend Savy. However, when Lina arrives, she’s quickly tangled in a mystery as Savy has disappeared. By driving different passengers around in her cab, Lina meets many different people, some with useful information about Savy and some who simply have interesting stories to tell. Being one of the only human drivers in a city where almost all cars are driven by robots, Neo Cab questions if an entirely technology-driven future is as great as many think it will be.
Neo Cab focuses on the life of a cab driver. You travel the city picking up different passengers and chatting with them along the way. When you first start the game, your friend Savy gifts you a Feelgrid. This bracelet on your wrist shows Lina’s emotions (Putting a literal meaning on wearing your heart on your sleeve). The Feelgrid color coordinates your emotions: yellow represents excitement, red shows anger, green shows calm/happiness and blue shows sadness. The brighter or paler the color the more or less intense the emotion is.
This mechanic is very interesting because your emotions can affect the things you say to other people. For example, by letting Lina get too angry at a passenger, your speech options become limited, only allowing you to respond to the passenger with an intense and angered response. However, if her anger is just beginning (letting off a pale red color) you can still control her speech options and hopefully change the conversation for the better.
The different characters you meet in Neo Cab really steal the show. Every character you meet is extremely interesting and different from one another. The passengers you meet may wish for multiple rides, this way you can watch as their stories unfold and sometimes influence them to follow a certain path. Because of the varying personalities of each person, I found myself learning their likes and dislikes and spoke to them accordingly. It’s important to make sure every passenger leaves happy because they will rate how well the ride was when they leave your car.
At the end of each ride, the passenger will rate you on a scale of 1-5 stars and leave a comment on how they felt during the drive. I found myself striving to get 5 stars for each passenger because if your “star rating” goes below 3 stars you will receive a warning saying that Neo Cabs must maintain a certain star rating. So, it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your passengers in case you see them again and need information, a favor or a good star rating.
At the end of every ride, you receive access to your phone. Here you can check your star rating, the map of the city, your money and your journal. Looking at the city map you can choose where you want to fuel your car, what passenger you want to pick up and where you want to sleep. Each gas station has different rates for fuel, with some charging more or less. So it’s important to remember which is the cheaper station to save some money.
At night you can choose to sleep in Capra hotels or lodge at an Airbnb. These options are also important because lodging with others can improve your mood, whereas sleeping at Capra will dampen your mood (since you’re selling your soul to an evil corporation and all). Although money seemed extremely important when you begin, it loses its emphasis as the game goes on. By managing where you sleep and fueling up at cheaper stations, you can save money easily.
The most significant issue I had with Neo Cab was with the lack of a chat log. In a game focused on dialogue, the inclusion of a chat log would have been a nice addition. I did experience some moments where I would hit the A button too quickly and miss an entire line of speech the passenger said.
Neo Cab takes place almost entirely on the inside of Lina’s cab, spare a few times you exit to speak with characters who want to meet you outside the cab. The dialogue from the characters provided great world building of what Los Ojos looks like, but it would have been nice to see these futuristic things from the windows of your cab while you were driving instead of just a few dark buildings.
Neo Cab strives with its large cast of memorable characters. Each different from the last and designed with interesting futuristic attire. Every character’s story was interesting and raised some seriously compelling issues and questions on what it’s like to live in a world purely reliant on technology. I loved meeting every new character and felt invested in almost all of their stories. Aragon was my personal favorite and his story is one I won’t soon forget… All Hail The Pain Worm!
Neo Cab’s soundtrack, however, was lackluster at best. The same few tracks would repeat over and over without introducing anything new. Although I enjoyed the futuristic vibe of the music, I soon got tired of it constantly repeating.
Throughout my time with Neo Cab, I did experience some minor technical issues. When dropping off a passenger at their destination, Lina would reach for her phone to check it. At this point, the game did suffer from some framerate issues and would at some points flash a red square across the screen. Although this issue only lasted a few seconds, it did hurt the overall polish of the game.
Neo Cab is a great interactive adventure that emphasizes on forming relationships. Every decision feels important in Neo Cab and will impact the story and your relationship with others. Although the main campaign is only about 3 hours, Neo Cab is a great game to replay and see how different conversations and actions can affect the main story. Neo Cab’s memorable characters and futuristic vibe makes it a very fun and unique experience. Although some minor technical issues and limited soundtrack hurt the overall polish of the game, Neo Cab’s great story, characters, and emotion managing mechanic keep it fun. It also gives a realistic view of what society could become if it continues to prioritize technology over everything else.