Review – Tails: The Backbone Preludes

I’ve played a ton of point-and-click adventures over the years, but after a while, they tend to start blending together. One game that did not fall into obscurity in my mind was EggNut’s Backbone, which released in 2019. From its striking pixel art to its cliffhanger ending, Backbone is one of the rare games that has stuck with me ever since first playing it. Funnily enough, I was looking to see if I could find any news on a sequel, when I was informed that there was in fact a new Backbone game in the works. As it turns out, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is not the sequel I was hoping for, but rather a prequel. Would it be able to scratch the itch left by Backbone, or would I once again be left wanting?

Tails: The Backbone Preludes Howard Flirting with Freja

Howard’s proving he’s a regular Casanova.

Being a prequel, Tails: The Backbone Preludes takes place years before the events of Backbone. You follow a few characters from the original game, such as Howard, Renee, and Clarissa. Then there’s Eli, who is a brand-new character we never got to meet in Backbone. Howard is just beginning his time at college, still uncertain of what career path he wants to follow. Renee is trying to establish herself as a hard-hitting journalist, much to the dismay of her neglected husband. Clarissa is trying to prove her worth to the criminal underbelly of the city, lorded over by her father. Meanwhile, Eli is out in the desert wasteland beyond the wall, on the brink of making the discovery of a lifetime.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes doesn’t follow one character arc all the way through at one time. Instead, you follow each of theses characters throughout several chapters. The game is presented in a series of playable vignettes, so to speak. This allows for time jumps in between the character’s lives, detailing some of the pivotal moments that shaped them into the characters we meet at the start of Backbone. I honestly loved this approach, and was surprised to find myself sympathizing with certain characters I never would have suspected. It doesn’t make their actions in Backbone any less terrible, but at least you can begin to understand why they do the things they do.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes Clarissa

Clarissa is a far more complex character than I gave her credit for.

As I’ve already mentioned, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a point-and-click adventure. However, unlike Backbone, which felt more like watching a movie with some occasional interactions thrown in, Tails: The Backbone Preludes has a few light puzzles and tons of dialogue options to choose from. Not only that, but the choices you make have a MASSIVE impact on how things turn out for your characters. A lot of games boast about having multiple endings, but typically there isn’t much difference from one ending to another. That is definitely not the case here, which makes it even more compelling.

The graphics are absolutely stunning. Tails: The Backbone Preludes has a high-resolution pixel art style that has a shocking amount of detail and movement. I found myself completely blown away by some of the environments, and how lived-in they felt. My only minor, miniscule disappointment was that weren’t weren’t a whole lot of new areas, mainly due to the game being on the short side. Like I said, it’s a small gripe, and one that comes from a place of loving what I was seeing and wanting more.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes Gastown Town Square

Despite the creepy, fiery statue of The Shepherd, Gastown is a remarkably beautiful place.

The soundtrack is another strong point for Tails: The Backbone Preludes. Danshin returns as the game’s composer, once again providing a jazzy noir soundtrack that fits the feel of them perfectly. Much like my issue with the visuals, my only minor complaint is that there aren’t a ton of songs. Once again, that’s due to its short length, and not because of any lack of talent.

Tails: The Backbone Preludes was the prequel I didn’t know I needed. It took some of the criticisms from the first game and improved upon them, while maintaining the aspects that made Backbone so enjoyable. My biggest issue is its short runtime, taking about only four hours to beat. However, this game was clearly meant to be played multiple times in order to see everything it has to offer. It’s refreshing to play a game where your choices actually make a big impact on the story, and not just provide some surface level differences.

Eli and Character Traits

You can choose Traits for each character, unlocking unique dialogue options depending on what you chose.

Backbone was already a compelling game, but after gaining some insight into some of its main characters, it has been elevated to a new level because of the existence of Tails: The Backbone Preludes. Now if we could get a proper sequel to finally wrap up some of the loose ends in Backbone, fans will be elated. I am ready to have my heart ripped out yet again.


Graphics: 9.5

It’s high-resolution pixel art style is stunning. The level of detail attained is remarkable.

Gameplay: 7.0

A point-and-click adventure with a few situational  puzzles sprinkled in. There are numerous dialogue options to choose from when playing as each character.

Sound: 8.5

Danshin returns with a noir jazz soundtrack that perfectly fits the game. My only minor complaint is that there weren’t quite enough songs.

Fun Factor: 7.0

A prequel that shines light on how several of the main characters from Backbone got their start, making you understand their motivations even better. The choices you make have serious consequences, and leaves you with yet another emotional gut punch.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Tails: The Backbone Preludes is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Tails: The Backbone Preludes was provided by the publisher.