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Weirdo raccoon detective game Backbone is getting a prequel

Tails: The Backbone Preludes exists, probably won't explain anything

In 2021 I reviewed Backbone, a masterpiece of 2D pixelart that was partly a point 'n' click detective noir game, and mostly a grim story-focused fever dream about collectivism. At the time I described it as "like The Good Place with more depression, or Disco Elysium with raccoons." Backbone has an ending so bizarre on a literal level that it defies description even if I wanted to spoil it. A while back developers Eggnut teased that they were working on a new game, and it turns out that game is Tails: The Backbone Preludes, a prequel that probably won't answer any questions you might've had about the ending of Backbone. It's also out very soon, on February 2nd.

Cover image for YouTube video
Ah yes, this clears everything up

Like Backbone, Tails - a pun, because the game is story-focused, and all the characters in it are anthropomorphic animals - is a "post-noir" game set in a post-apocalyptic Vancover. The four characters in the micro-trailer above are all in Backbone, so my prediction is that Tails will be basically the preliminary chess game putting them in place on the board for the start of Backbone. How does raccoon Howard Lotor go from idealistic photography student to a hard-bitten down-on-his-luck private dick?; why does Clarissa Bloodworth end up running a club that disappears people?

I don't know that for sure, but it's a solid "I reckon" based on playing Backbone and hearing from the press release that Tails is a "narrative adventure with branching choices, focused on an intertwined series of vignettes about change, circumstance, and consequence". Of course, the choices can't be that branching, since Backbone already exists - but there's always a chance that Eggnut go all wild card and let you create a separate timeline, like what they did for the new Star Trek movies. Tails is going to have some puzzles and different interactions, so it's not just a philosophy lecture. It also comes with a "branching tree interface" tracking the choices you make, which is the sort of concession to conventional playability I didn't think Eggnut would be bothered with.

Weird story beats aside, my other reckon is that Tails will be worth a read, a look and a listen, because Backbone had very well written dialogue, spectacular pixelart visuals and a very cool soundtrack. It's coming to Steam on February 2nd.

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Alice Bell

Deputy Editor

Small person powered by tea and books; RPS's dep ed since 2018. Send her etymological facts and cool horror or puzzle games.