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About the StoryTaco Fiction is a game about crime.
1st Place overall; 1st Place, Miss Congeniality Award - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)
Nominee, Best Writing; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Implementation - 2011 XYZZY Awards
"Taco Fiction is a game about crime. There are many aspects to crime and the primary theme of the game is precariousness. You, as the nameless protagonist, are in a precarious financial state which leads you to criminal acts, and the world you occupy in Taco Fiction is itself precarious with few things exactly as they seem. With this in mind, we might expect the game's implementation to facilitate this sense of precariousness, and so it does."
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Number of Reviews: 9
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
The reason I've wanted to is that Taco Fiction is a really important game to me; I first picked it up several years ago, when I was only into IF very casually (i.e., mostly doing coding exercises in Inform 7 and failing to complete Spider and Web). I had played the basic beginners' canon (Lost Pig, 9:05, De Baron...), and somehow in the midst of that, I came upon this game. Taco Fiction blew me away.
For a long time after playing it, Taco Fiction existed in my head as a prototype of what a perfect text adventure should be. And I think the reason it stuck with me (as opposed to, say, Lost Pig or Spider and Web, fine games though they are) is that it was purely fun. I have a poor head for puzzles, and I can only put with dark stuff for so long. Taco Fiction was fun. I never got stuck, I never got a default command; I was startled by (Spoiler - click to show)the cops in the diner (a masterful moment), and in the final scene my heart was sent racing. The rest of the time I spent smiling.
There are a lot of things to praise about Taco Fiction. The simulacrum of an "open world" is particularly impressive, given that this is essentially a linear game, plot-wise. The world is not huge, but there are characters who you can talk to for quite a bit longer than you would think with an expansive menu-based conversation system, and you can wander around doing essentially pointless things like purchasing and buying ice cream - but not out of adventure-game boredom, or an "amusing things to do" ethos; it's the kind of thing the PC would do, and you're free to do it as well. In between the delightfully weird, page-turning plot, of course. One with surprisingly subtle and insightful political points (in the least sordid sense of that word) to make.
Yes, I'm gushing. The reason I've put off reviewing Taco Fiction for so long is that it's hard to know what to write when something is just good. It's the game that made me excited about IF, that made me want to write my own, it turned me on to the rest of Veeder's excellent work, and it remained for years in my head the model against which all other works of IF would be compared.
Taco Fiction deserves to be canonized with the very best of modern interactive fiction.
Taco Fiction seems like a trifle: it's comedic (and quite funny), and the plot is as light as it could be in a game where you can point your gun at anyone you meet. That seems like sort of the point though; this game could have been quite bleak; the PC is desperate and doing desperate things. There's nothing in the game that needs to be funny, but the comedic touch lightens the tone enough to make it consistently compelling.
The world of the game is quite detailed, and actually becomes more of a playground for the player than it seems at first. A straight walkthrough to the best ending would miss about 75% of the content, so it's worth your while to just wander around, talking to all the NPCs and trying out different activities. There are a couple scenes that I found particularly well done (Spoiler - click to show) -- the charades and the Star Wars story are delivered perfectly -- and your initial entry into the taco shop is one of the tensest and most unnerving scenes I've played in any IF. (Spoiler - click to show) Consider the clear uneasiness of the PC from the first moments of the game, the litany of actions that you're going to take, that disturbing painting which catches your eye as you walk in, then the masterful revelation about the bikers. It all functions exquisitely to ratchet up the tension. There are no really difficult puzzles here, just a lovely little game about crime.
What follows is an unexpectedly light, mostly comical (but at times tense!) mystery that takes you in bizarre and unexpected directions. The NPCs are delightful and respond appropriately to what you do with your gun. The puzzles are also light, well-clued, and set the appropriate pacing. My only main criticism is the endgame, which feels a bit rushed and unsatisfying. I felt like the game was just starting to explore the characters and setting and then it was over. At least there are a couple of endings available depending on your motivations for the character at the end.
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