Tails:  The Backbone Preludes





Genre: Adventure    

Developer & Publisher: Raw Fury/EggNut              

Released: February 2, 2023               

Requirements: OS, Window 10

Processor: Minimum, Intel Core i5-7400/AMD Ryzen 3 1200; Recommended,

Intel Core i7-8700/AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Memory: Minimum, 8 GB RAM; Recommended 16 GB RAM

Graphics: Minimum, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti/Equivalent AMD Radeon;

Recommended, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070/Equivalent AMD Radeon

DirectX: Version 11

Storage: 2 GB available space












By flotsam


Raw Fury / EggNut

Set in a dystopian Vancouver populated by anthropomorphic animals and with an art deco aesthetic, I said in my first look it was more interactive novel than I prefer, which is how it stayed throughout. Stylishly and carefully crafted, its stock in trade are conversations which produce branching narratives and drive the stories of each of the four playable characters. Straight out puzzles are limited and easy, save for a rather good if not immediately clear one around the middle of the game. But if you like a set of well written tales and pontificating about how best to progress each of them, you will likely be well pleased.

The pixel art environment is incredibly detailed and while there is no spoken word there are grunts and exclamations that work rather well to provide a sense of a conversation going on. A varied and moody soundtrack plus some ambient sound effects round out the aural side of things.

Each of the four playable characters are varied in age, background and species. Their tales take part independently of each other; their connection is the lore and world building of the Vancouver future. They also have their own timeframes, some playing out over many years, others a much more truncated period of time. They don’t interact with each other, or cross over, so think of each as a separate book occurring within the same game world.

I enjoyed each of them, and they are all very different. Howard is a photography major, experiencing college alongside his roommate Larry. Clarissa is heiress to a mafia boss and who will never be good enough for her father. Renee is a journalist, grappling with her relationship and confronting the lack of agency in her life, and Eli is a scientist, researching in the wastelands but beginning to question if what he is doing is really for the greater good.

I liked some more than others. Eli and Clarissa I enjoyed the most, the tension in their respective stories being progressively palpable. Renee was probably the most impactful, being more relatable than the others. Howard was the (comparative) low point for me, a bit too frat boy although you could ameliorate that with your choices. None though was disappointing or dull.

You don’t choose which character to play, rather the game’s chapters take you back and forth between each of them. Your choices will determine various traits, how relationships progress, and branching dialogues and randomized events will determine the path/s through the game. A 'branching tree' keeps track of your choices, and your dialogue remains reviewable throughout. The last part of each tale will give you a ‘how things worked out’ final entry in your story tree. Disappointingly, I couldn’t review my ‘tree’ at the end (or at least I couldn’t work out how), but I was largely happy with where I ended up.

Your game screen scrolls left and right as you move your character with the arrow keys, or whatever keys you choose to assign. Ditto to interact with the environment. You can use the mouse to do that if you want but will need to make that change in the settings menu. As you move around, hotspot bubbles will pop up, and you can interact or not as you see fit. You don’t have to do everything, but it may have an impact later or effect whether or not you gather all the Steam achievements. Relevant icons will indicate what can be done each time (e.g., look, talk, use etc.). As you explore, the conversation bubbles of those NPCs in the environment will also appear. Linger and read or move on as you choose.

As indicated, there is no spoken word, and when engaging in conversations a dialogue panel will overlay the right side of the screen. Choose your various responses with the mouse and scroll back if you want to revisit what has gone before. Given it is a very talkative game, the ability to scroll back over what has been said is useful.

The game autosaves but you can also save at will, and just click continue in the menu to pick up where you left off. I didn’t play the earlier game so I can’t tell you how this fits with what came before but I didn’t feel my enjoyment was compromised as a result. My playtime clocked in at around 5 hours, and while I wanted more to do than talking, these Tales/Tails are a polished and well written enterprise.

I played on:

OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit

Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz

RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB

Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB

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