Mastodon

Taxinaut Preview – Space Travel…for a Price (Early Access)

Taxinaut Preview – Space Travel…for a Price (Early Access)
4

Platforms: Windows PC

Game Name: Taxinaut

Publisher: Mosgrom

Developer: Mosgrom

Genre: Simulation

Release Date: September 15th, 2022

taxinaut by mosgrom

Taxinaut is a fully immersive simulation game set in a dark, Futurama-styled comic sci-fi world. Putting players in the role of a veteran seeking a lost friend in the underworld of this vast interstellar civilization, Taxinaut presents its setting in granular detail, from the need to book passage on larger vessels to travel to other star systems to the simple ability to gather rumors at a grimy bar.

Before I get into the details, I would like to tell you a story about an alien being called Idekeb Bagic. For as long as he could remember, Idekeb had always been fascinated by archaeology. He had aspired to visit and finally be a part of an archaeological dig for years and, one day, Idekeb decided to take the plunge and go on an adventure; he was going to travel off-world and seek out a dig site. He was going to Live the dream! Idekeb booked a taxi, and the driver agreed to take him off-world to find an ongoing dig.

Booking Interstellard Adventure

What Idekeb didn’t know was that the driver had just barely begun his career as a taxinaut. He had yet to take his cab off-world. He had no idea where the nearest dig was. But he was going to do his best to see it done, largely due to the 21900 “VUDU” – the currency of the galaxy – Idekeb had offered for the job.

The driver first circled the local area and sought out the location of a dig. It took a while, but eventually, he got the name…of a planet in an entirely different star system.

The driver immediately tried to book a flight on an interstellar transport, only to find that the most distant destination available was only about a quarter of the way there. “Never mind,” he thought; they’d just have to leapfrog their way to their goal. They flew to the local interplanetary launch site and sped on their way into space!

Passenger in Peril

Idekeb was, no doubt, thrilled to be beginning his adventure. This driver seemed to know what he was doing; they were already docking with the interstellar transport to leave the system. When they arrived at the first star system on their route to the dig, things began to get a little more concerning.

The driver fumbled with his computer, not recognizing any of the local planets. He mumbled something to local traffic control about “just passing through” before seeking somewhere to land. Apparently, he had left all of his credits banked, and they’d need to withdraw money to book the next leg of the journey.

The taxi de-orbited on the closest of the system’s planets and Idekeb looked out the window to see a barren wasteland. The driver sat silently at the controls, looking increasingly irritated. Idekeb was not particularly happy himself. “Where shall we go, now?” he asked. The driver silently cruised to the local information bureau and went inside to enquire about nearby banks and where to find the local port to launch back into orbit once the money was withdrawn. He came back to the taxi looking even more aggravated.

Always Pay for the Travel Insurance

Idekeb wrung his tentacles and began to get very worried. They flew away from the bureau for a couple hours as nothing but barren mountains passed by outside. Idekeb finally lost his patience. “So when are we going to the next system? Where is the bank? The launch site?”

“There aren’t any, and we can’t get off-world without one,” the driver responded in a cold tone.

“You didn’t bring an anti-graviton charge?” Idekeb exclaimed incredulously.

The cab cruised to a halt and the door opened. “Get out”.

Unfortunately for Idekeb, he was one of my first passengers. I like to think he found some ancient ruins to explore on that barren, mostly deserted world. But I fear he probably just starved in the mountains.

Due to my lack of an anti-graviton charge (an essential item for escaping planets without launching ports), I was forced to “cycle” and return to the starting world without the small number of VUDU I had taken with me (such a reset destroys physical items but not information like location data or banked currency).

Taxi Tactics

Despite providing a lot of information to help you get off the ground, Taxinaut is ruthless. Idekeb’s tragic tale happened before I’d even finished the tutorial. I quickly learned that I should spend a lot longer gathering resources on the starting planet before venturing into space.

A lot of the game is built around gathering information to help with locating destinations, buying upgrades, or managing equipment (such as not de-orbiting on a new world without an anti-graviton charge).

An aspect of Taxinaut that I’m less fond of is the busy skies that must be navigated. Taxinaut feels like a game to unwind with and get lost in. This is somewhat juxtaposed with the frenetic, almost bullet-hell feel of navigating the busier worlds in its galaxy. Bumping into other traffic (and some of the traffic seems all but determined to ram you) causes damage to the cab and a loss of funds.

It’s a minor niggle and mostly regarding the nature and mood of the game; Taxinaut feels like it would lend itself to a more ruminative experience and its journey time better spent navigating its menus or reading the bulletin text.

A Taxi Customer’s Guide to the Galaxy

All this said, Taxinaut is a superb simulation game that provides a world both deep and vast to explore. It also provides grating challenges only to offer fun upgrades that solve them. The aforementioned overcrowded skies are worse at night when it is hard to see other ships, so night-vision sensors can be purchased to remove the problem, for example.

In many ways, this reminded me of playing the original Deus Ex and the way it would hamstring its protagonist to add additional value to upgrades (such as the underrated aiming system that artificially reduced accuracy until the appropriate skills were leveled up).

Taxinaut is a well-crafted and detailed world that is beckoning for players to get lost in its depths. Part of me wishes it offered more scope for how to interact with its many systems; I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to operate as a trader or courier in this world.

It also looks great, combining simple but punchy pixel art with catchy synth music (integrated into the game via a radio system). Taxinaut is both broad in scope and immersive in its depth, an easy recommendation for fans of simulation games, science fiction, and dark humor alike.

Taxinaut is available via Steam Early Access.

Watch the trailer for Taxinaut below:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: