Tails: The Backbone Preludes PC Review

A post-noir narrative-focused game in an often dark and disturbing world filled with anthropomorphic animals and intrigue.

By LCLupus, Posted 02 Feb 2023

Tails: The Backbone Preludes is the second game by Eggnut, and the second game in the Backbone series. The first game was a post-noir mystery game set in a world filled with anthropomorphic animals. This game, which has a much longer and somewhat unwieldy title, is similarly a post-noir game set in an anthropomorphic world, but it isn’t necessarily in the same vein. This game is a prequel to the first Backbone game, but it does not require you to have played the first game to be understandable in the slightest.

At its core, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a side-scroller narrative game that is similar, in some ways, to something like Valiant Hearts: The Great War. It involves some mild puzzles here and there but is generally down to two main means of interaction and one slightly less prominent means of interaction: walking, talking, and doing the occasional busy work.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes, PC, Review, Adventure, Mystery, Narrative, Exploration, Post-Apocalyptic, Anthropomorphic Animals, NoobFeed, Eggnut, Raw Fury

The game is presented through a series of vignettes in which some small piece of a character’s life is explored, some meaningful moment that set them on the course to become who they were always going to become. This is presented as a series of short levels with limited exploration in a 2D environment. You move from one side to the other, and sometimes don’t necessarily get to do that either if it’s a dialogue-focused vignette, and you chat to the people you find. Your decisions are what matter in Tails: The Backbone Preludes.

In Tails: The Backbone Preludes you’ll do something other than walking and talking every now and then. These are generally small things like doing the dishes, packing things up, or doing experiments. Even more seldom, you’ll come across a puzzle of some kind, such as investigating a broken clock, but it’s never particularly complicated. Tails: The Backbone Preludes is, first and foremost, a narrative game.

Each of the vignettes in Tails: The Backbone Preludes is depicted through the life experience of one of four characters. Each of these characters, presumably, had some kind of an influence in the original game. I wouldn’t know, as I did not play that game. Hence my statement that you would not need to play the first game to understand this one. One of the four characters is the protagonist of the original game, though, so it stands to reason that these four characters are, in some way, important to the original game.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes, PC, Review, Adventure, Mystery, Narrative, Exploration, Post-Apocalyptic, Anthropomorphic Animals, NoobFeed, Eggnut, Raw Fury

The four characters in question are worth discussing as they are, funnily, the backbone of the narrative in Tails: The Backbone Preludes. There’s Howard Lotor, who will become the protagonist of the first game, and he is a college student studying photography. He is shown to be resourceful and intelligent as you guide him through his college years as you become friends with your roommate, prepare for a project, and eventually make plans later in life.

The next character in Tails: The Backbone Preludes is Renee Wilson, a reporter who is simultaneously working on an important story that deals with the problems in her society while handling her personal life with her husband. This story, like many stories in the game, is a sad one. You can tell from the beginning that the marriage between these two characters is tenuous at best. They disagree, argue, et cetera. It isn’t very often that a game depicts a marriage that is falling apart.

Then there’s Eli Abbas, a scientist who is working outside the walls of the one city where all these anthropomorphic animals seem to live. It is suggested that life outside the walls is impossible. It’s a wasteland that cannot support life. However, as Eli, you discover that that may not be the case as you perform experiments and learn more about the world itself. This particular character in Tails: The Backbone Preludes is probably the one that is least like the others. It feels like quite a difference. The others are all far more noir in nature, but this one is very sci-fi.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes, PC, Review, Adventure, Mystery, Narrative, Exploration, Post-Apocalyptic, Anthropomorphic Animals, NoobFeed, Eggnut, Raw Fury

Some of the criticism the first game received appeared to focus on how certain plot points later in the game effectively jump the shark. Whether this is true or not, is not something that can be attested to in this review. Still, it would appear that this vignette structure, and especially Eli Abbas’s role in it, maybe to preempt some of the decisions in the later narrative of the first game. So, maybe it would be best to play this one first if you haven’t played the original.

However, we’ve saved the best for last. The final main character is Clarissa Bloodworth. She is the heiress of a criminal empire, but she does not see eye to eye with her father after he comes to power. Her story is very noir. Dangerous, bloody, and horrifying at points. A story of clawing for power in a violent world. It’s some pretty heavy stuff, and it’s also pretty great. It’s also where most of the game’s content warning is likely situated.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a game that deals with heavy topics. For instance, the Steam page for the game explains that abuse, violence, systemic racism/sexism, drug abuse, and depression all form part of the narrative. This isn’t a fun, happy-go-lucky story that is being told. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and it’s great.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes, PC, Review, Adventure, Mystery, Narrative, Exploration, Post-Apocalyptic, Anthropomorphic Animals, NoobFeed, Eggnut, Raw Fury

As you play through each of these characters’ lives, you are given a chance to change the trajectory of their futures. As the game describes itself, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a story about change, circumstance, and consequence. What you do in each vignette will change how that character’s story will proceed. This also means that the game is very replayable. Each character can be replayed to see how their story changes based on different actions. Maybe this time around, you decide to flirt with a different person or you change the nature of the article you’re working on. Each playthrough will likely take somewhere in the realm of 4 hours. There are probably a few playthroughs in there, so, if you decide to try and see all of it, there’s likely going to be more than 12 hours of content available. The developers do also describe their game as being built to be replayed.

As for the world itself, it’s an interesting one. An anthropomorphic world in which different species are ranked differently on the racial hierarchy, a world in which unseen “Apes” rule the world, and where the world outside the walls is apparently the result of some kind of an apocalyptic cataclysm. This all makes Tails: The Backbone Preludes a fascinating world to explore, although it would have been good to see more of it. Although, of course, the original game may just have more of that if you enjoy this particular entry.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes is also gorgeous. The pixelated art style, with its more washed-out colors certainly presents a more noir world, and the classical and jazzy soundtrack adds to that aesthetic even more. The only real issue with the game is that the walking speed is quite slow, and you’re sometimes placed in relatively large environments compared to that walking speed, so if you miss something, you’ll have to do a whole lot of walking back and forth. That isn’t so great, but other than that; there are no real technical issues to speak of.


Ultimately, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a great prequel that stands on its own perfectly well, and it will probably make someone more interested to see what the first game had in store for players. It’s a beautifully crafted game that deals with heavy themes and issues, and it does them well by alternating between various perspectives with wildly different worldviews. It’s a great time, and if you love anthropomorphic stories, then you definitely shouldn’t sleep on this one, capiche?

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Raw Fury
Developer(s): Eggnut
Genres: Point And Click
Themes: Interactive Drama, Narrative, Mystery
Release Date: 2022-02-02

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