Neo Cab is one of those games where so much happens, it’s difficult to know where to start.
It’s a heavy political drama, but it’s also an intriguing insight into personal preference and a fair depiction of a potentially plausible future.
This new indie from Chance Agency and published by Fellow Traveller is short, but full of things to digest in its bustling futuristic world full of twists, turns, and turmoil.
It all begins with Lina Romero, one of the few human taxi drivers left in the world working for a company called Neo Cab.
It’s all thanks to the mega corporation, Capra, who’ve decided everything is better run with robots and these automatons are at your beck and call, all at the tap of an app. How convenient.
Human drivers aren’t entirely outlawed – yet – but the time is coming soon with a new law being voted on and so, inevitably, Lina thinks it might be time for a change.
Which makes it so strange why she’d trek all the way to Los Ojos – Capra capital – to reunite with an old friend who has a room kitted out for her.
Or so Lina thinks, at least. Because Lina’s good buddy, Savy, has actually got herself in a bit of a jam. After picking her up, turns out Savy doesn’t want Lina to drive her home but take her to a club to meet some other friends.
And from there, well, she kind of goes missing. Which is a bit inconvenient seeing as Lina never got a key cut and has no idea where Savy lives. Oops.
So, until she can track down her friend Lina can either sleep in her car for free or rent out rooms at varying rates, including a comfortable Capra one against her better nature. How Lina rests obviously has different effects on her mood.
Mood being an important part of Neo Cab. See, when Lina meets up with Savy she gives her a ‘Feelgrid’ which actually tells other people how she’s feeling.
If the FeelGrid is bright red, that means Lina is becoming angry and aggressive and that will change her conversation choices. Yellow makes her more exciteable, while blue means she’s sad.
This mechanic perhaps doesn’t go as deep as I might like, but it does mean that you’ll have different reactions in your conversations with passengers each time you play and it does make for some interesting talking points.
You’re not going to gel with every passenger who gets into your cab, nor will you feel like everyone’s trustworthy with whispers and hidden cameras about, but you have to try.
Your responsibility as a Neo Cab driver is to maintain and sustain a 5 star rating, but dependent on how each conversation goes, your rating can take the plunge just as easily as it can increase.
Say something the passenger doesn’t like or allow a conversation to get heated and you might be due a warning. And with a limited number of fares per day plus some game progress requiring you to always be at your best, it all gets pretty difficult to manage.
Neo Cab is a multi-choice visual novel with some of the best writing I’ve seen this year. It poses some intriguing possibilities and presents a unique and fascinating take on the future that won’t soon be forgotten.
This is an adventure well worth taking, but it’s a world I wanted to get into even deeper and one that ended sooner than I would have liked. I wanted to explore relationships with more of the passengers, see what makes them really tick, and learn more about them.
It also ends really abruptly, which is a bit of a shame considering the build-up to that point.
For anyone looking for an intriguing futuristic fix, though, Neo Cab is definitely worth adding to your list.
Neo Cab is available now on PC, iOS, and Switch.
Reviewed on PC, supplied by the publisher