Backbone is a post-noir roleplaying detective adventure. Become raccoon private eye Howard Lotor as you interrogate a diverse cast of characters, collect evidence, and explore dystopian Vancouver, BC inhabited by animals.
Howard's journey ends far, far away from where it began and each step continuously develops the emotional investment for everyone in this world. While there are minor mechanical issues such as the "interact" input not always being immediately responsive, each element of Backbone is polished and expertly crafted. Backbone is a must-play GOTY contender that deserves every bit of mainstream recognition it receives, and exceeds the usual reach of its genre, making for a compelling experience that even those with little interest in point-and-click adventures will find difficult to put down.
Backbone is a good game that will disappoint some of its players. The world is engaging and the detective mechanics are limited but cool. A sequence at the end of Act III is one of the most stunning I have experienced in a video game, both from a narrative and presentation standpoint. The game also delivers on its tonal shift and twist and does things that a simple noir detective story could not. Backbone understands the value of good writing and works hard to make words matter. The development team has already said that it has more stories to tell in this universe and I very much want to see how they expand on the best elements of Backbone and how they can make the world even more intriguing.
Backbone does both, striking a balance between nostalgic and new, breathing another breath of life into the genre with its gritty, sad grin. This 2D, sidescrolling, pixel-art noir is a short but solid adventure mystery with stunning visuals and meaningful characters.
Backbone is full of potential for greatness and makes a terrific first impression. With its compelling lead and supporting cast, and a fascinating setting full of tantalising lore and mysteries to solve, I spent most of my experience excited to find out where it was all leading. Unfortunately, much of the detective gameplay and plot start to come apart by the end, leading to an oddly inconclusive and unsatisfying conclusion.
This is a fine debut. Backbone uses its seductive looks to enrich a conceptually thoughtful and carefully plotted-out world, and delivers real surprises within a genre that is all about adhering to time-honoured conventions. [Issue#361, p.116]
Excellent visuals and a great soundtrack. However, in terms of gameplay it doesn't deliver what it promises while the story, although it starts with all the makings of something at least decent, loses its rhythm completely from the middle onwards.
Is Backbone worth a look? Yes, particularly if the idea of playing as an anthropomorphic animal appeals to you. There are times when it’ll have you on tenterhooks and there are several characters that are strong enough to stand out. It’s admirable that this was achieved on a small budget, but ultimately the developers have tried to cram too much in for Backbone to be truly successful.
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