More an interactive novel than a game, Neo Cab spins an interesting and thought-provoking narrative through its colorful cast of characters and relatable protagonist.
Lina has decided to leave her life in the rural town of Cactus Flats to head to the bright lights of Los Ojos, a cutting edge town which her best friend, Savy, resides in.
Lina is a Neo Cab driver, essentially an Uber driver, but lives in a world quickly being taken over by Capra and automated cars. Upon her arrival in Los Ojos she finds that things are not as they seem and, left with no place to stay, decides to make some extra cash by picking up customers A.K.A Pax.
These customers, and their stories, are what make up a bulk of the narrative. Sure, there is an ongoing story detailing Lina and Savy, but it only exists to lay the foundation for the weird and wonderful customers you’ll pick up throughout each night.
Their stories are as varied as they are and often far more outlandish than you’d expect. Neo Cab aims to surprise you with every new pick up and excels.
I won’t spoil the main story here – but remember there’s no rush to reach the next plot point. Take time to let the customers and their antics fill each night to get the most out of Neo Cab.
To say that Neo Cab is a game in the traditional sense is a bit misleading. Sure, you do get to make choices and as such, you are controlling the story – but ultimately Neo Cab functions more as an interactive novel.
That’s not a knock on the game, as I found it just as immersive as any other recent release, if not more so. While you never control your character’s movements, you do control their inner thoughts, their dialogue, and who you pick up and the characters will remember your helpful – or snide – remarks.
While the underlying story is interesting and allows you to participate in a few sections outside of the car which gives a slightly different flow to the dialogue, the main event are the customers.
Each customer can be picked up more than once and, depending on your interactions each ride, can become friends or enemies and lead to some hilarious outcomes.
Throughout my time in Los Ojos I found myself genuinely interested in these characters and their stories. The developers continuously find creative ways to expand their stories while consistently leaving you excited for your next pick up. I can’t put down even one character I encountered – they are all great in their own way.
There are a few gameplay tropes, although they make little difference in the long run. As a driver you are required to maintain a certain star average, and how you treat your customers during their trips will either raise or lower this. Lina keeps a journal, which she updates throughout the game with sketches. You have to manage your money as multiple things cost money and you must find a balance between how much you make on cab fares and how much you spend to recharge your car and crash at hotels.
The biggest gameplay mechanism is your ability to choose who you pick up. Unfortunately, the game does limit you to three rides a night and due to this there is no way to experience every character’s full story in one play through. While I was disappointed in this, it also gives players an excuse to replay and essentially experience hours of new dialogue and outcomes.
Replayability and Length:
Neo Cab is about five hours long on first play through; thankfully the inability to experience all aspects of the great cast of character’s stories in one playthrough is sure to send many players back into the game for a second playthrough. But after that, most players will have seen all there is to offer. Still, Neo Cab is certainly worth playing through twice.
Neo Cab is as much an existential look at life as it is a video game. Throughout it’s relatively short run time you’ll encounters characters of all ages and talk about everything from overbearing parents to how you want to be remembered after you’re gone. Religion, relationships, quantum physics, A.I. versus humans, and just how much authority we should grant corporations in our daily life are all explored in detail and will leave many players with a lot to think well after the main story concludes.
A surprisingly great game and a welcome surprise, do yourself a favor and step out of your comfort zone and give Neo Cab a chance – you may be surprised at what you learn about yourself.
Neo Cab by Chance Agency was released on October 3rd, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch, PC, and Apple Arcade for an MSRP of $19.99. A review code was provided by Chance Agency / Fellow Travelers for the purpose of this review.
Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. When he’s not writing about video games on FanFest.com you can find him on Broadway World or in Graffiti Magazine. He can be contacted via email at [email protected] or [email protected]. You can visit his website at facebook.com/richardallenwrites