Neo Cab Review
Neo Cab is the first game from developer Chance Agency. Is this fare worth picking up, or should you take the bus? Check out our review and find out.
Neo Cab Review
Neo Cab follows the story of Lina, one of the last human cab drivers in the area. She is moving to Los Ojos to move in with her best friend, Savy. Los Ojos is a city run by tech and mostly automated, including the cabs. People are wary of human drivers because they are more likely to be in an accident. To top this off, a human driver recently went crazy and drove their car into a crowd of people. That event has triggered new anti-car legislation that is threatening to ban human drivers completely.
However, that is a problem for another day. When you pick up Savy and begin catching up with her, she has you drop her off before giving you your new address. A couple of cab fares later and Savy messages you saying she needs help. When you arrive, there is no sign of Savy, and her phone is busted and on the street. This leaves you with two main objectives: find out what happened to Savy and earn enough money to have a place to sleep every night. The story will run you thee to four hours, and you will not see everything in a single run.
Neo Cab really works like a point and click narrative experience. You choose who to pick up and where to go, but you don’t drive the car or move your character. Each cab fare you get will have a conversation with you, and you get to choose your responses. Guiding these choices is what is called your FeelGrid. It acts as a sort of mood ring and changes color based on your mood. Green is happy, yellow is excited, blue is depressed, and red is angry. The FeelGrid also happens to be Capra tech, which your character is exactly pleased with.
Based upon your mood, you might unlock new conversation choices or be locked out of specific decisions. Let’s say you want to pick a hostile response, but are currently happy. Lina will say something to the effect or “why ruin the vibe,” and you have to pick another option. I did not like this one bit. It felt that some of the potentially best choices I couldn’t choose because of my earlier picks. If that is the case, they shouldn’t have even popped up as an option. Why show a choice to deny you the opportunity even to pick it.
Regardless of your Feelgrid, you have to earn cash every night. You can pick up a total of three people a night. The cheap hotel is about $18, gas will run you about $5 a night, and three pickups will get you roughly $24-$30. Just like a real Uber driver, your driver rating will make or break you. The higher your rating, the more you get paid. If you fall below four stars, which takes one lousy score, you are threatened with being terminated. I’m not sure if you can lose your job or not since I always got myself above four stars by the end of the night. Still, it does affect the choices you make to avoid upsetting your fares.
I will say that for nearly every one of the fares I picked up, I enjoyed having a conversation with. My favorite fare had to be the foreign guys who thought I was a robot. I tried my best to convince them I was not a robot and thought I had. They got out of my cab, went to their hotel, and gave me a four-star rating. The comment said something to the effect of a very lifelike robot. That comment made me excited to get them into my cab again later. The random people I picked up throughout the game were the best part of it.
There is also a subplot about a group of people who are against the Capra take over. You get caught up in it early on, but don’t have to focus on it until later in the game if you don’t want to. You will get opinions from your cab pickups on the legislation and the Capra corp in general, but most people don’t linger on the topic long. The one good thing, or bad thing depending on your view, is that your FeelGrid glows red when you are mad, so people drop the conversation when they see that. You can still choose to pursue the conversation if you wish, or you have to because you are mad and can’t calm down according to the game.
One thing I found weird was that cash could only be spent on gas and a sleeping place. There is no upgrade system to the car or anything like that. You will run into events that will cost you extra cash though, sometimes a ridiculous amount. I’m not sure what happens if you run out of money; you lose, I guess. The other thing is that a lot of the streets and buildings look the same regardless of where you pick someone up. I didn’t have any crashes or frame drops, but there is quite a bit of pop in.
Neo Cab is a delightful experience that sometimes trips over itself due to certain design choices. Make sure to check out the demo before purchasing.