We live in a world where many people use rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber. Neo Cab is a sci-fi narrative adventure where most of those jobs have become automated and human drivers have been pushed out. Players step into the shoes of Lina Romero, a woman moving to Los Ojos to live with her best friend. Lina works for Neo Cab, one of the last companies to use human drivers. Human drivers are often frowned upon because of Capra, a corporation that seemingly runs everything from ridesharing services to hotels. They frighten those in the city and often watch over all the citizens.
Despite Capra haunting Lina, all she wants to do is move in with her friend Savy. The problem is that Savy is missing, and Lina doesn’t know where she is. Neo Cab sets up an intriguing story that ultimately doesn’t pay off. When Savy goes missing, there’s a sense of intrigue. That initial hook quickly dies down, and the overall narrative becomes dull.
How are you doing tonight?
Neo Cab shines when Lina is picking up and talking to various riders at her job. Each of the riders that she can drive around is unique, entertaining, and full of life. I enjoyed each of their stories and consistently tried to pick up the same riders to get to know them more. Early in the game, you get an item called Feelgrid, which is basically a mood ring. It tells players whether Lina is feeling happy, depressed, angry, or anxious. Your feelings will dictate how interactions with the riders play out. Lina’s mood will depend on dialogue options you can pick. While it might seem like none of your choices matter, the riders will give you a rating at drop off.
For the most part, I averaged between four and five stars. There was an instance when a very annoying customer gave me a one-star rating. That reduced my overall rating to 2.4/5, and my account turned red. I’m not sure if it’s possible to lose, but Neo Cab gave me a warning when I dipped below three stars.
The choice is yours
Players can mold the story the way they want to. Lina talks to each of the riders and learns about them. Not only does she meet new people, but she also learns a lot about herself. On my initial playthrough, I didn’t pick up every single rider and often decided to drive around the ones I liked most. Many riders have interesting interactions with each other. The problem is that you won’t know that unless you branch out and meet new people. With how my personal story unraveled, I definitely regretted how I played Neo Cab. What’s great is that I didn’t hate the game because I was disappointed with my choices. On the contrary, it made me curious to see how things could’ve gone differently. Lina is likable enough, and the world is intriguing enough to make me want to continue experiencing it.
However, my biggest gripe with Neo Cab is definitely how the narrative didn’t fit in the grand scheme of things. If it were a game about a woman driving around the city and talking with her clients, that would’ve been an excellent experience. The mystery of what happened to Savy isn’t engaging enough to really care about at all, even at a two-hour runtime. Had Neo Cab been about the human element of being a rideshare driver, I think it would be a game talked about for years to come. Despite my loving the dialogue between characters, the story is keeping me from truly recommending Neo Cab.
Neo Cab: A rideshare with some bumps in the road
For everything Neo Cab gets right, there are a few things I wish the game could have done better. The characters are excellent, the world is fascinating, and following Lina as she interacts with citizens of Los Ojos is entertaining. I just wish that the main narrative were gripping, but it never seems to find its footing, and that’s a shame. I’ll probably continue playing to see how the story deviates because of my choices, but I think many people will play through the game in two hours and move on with their lives. Neo Cab is charming in its own way, but if you’re looking for a game with a stellar story, maybe you should stay away from this car.
A review code was provided by the publisher.