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Noir sidescroller Backbone releases in June, stars a raccoon PI

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Backbone is a gritty noir adventure game in which you'll step into the worn shoes of Howard Lotor, a private investigator living in the dilapidated, dystopian city of Vancouver, a place locked in the grip of an oppressive caste system that shows no mercy to anyone who dares step out of line. After years of barely scraping by, Lotor finds himself caught up in a mystery unlike any other he's seen before—one that threatens to shake the city to its core.

Also, Howard is a raccoon. 

In fact, everyone in the city is an anthropomorphic animal of some sort: There are dogs and cats, rats and rabbits, bears, foxes, badgers, and more, some of them friendly and many not. Your pursuit of the truth will lead to "meaningful connections with a diverse cast of characters," and also an ass-kicking or two, if the trailer is anything to go by. A Thorton W. Burgess story, this is not.

The 2.5D pixel art rendering of decrepit Vancouver, supported by advanced visual effects like dynamic lighting and volumetric fog, looks gorgeous, in a grim, run down sort of way, and the city sounds fantastic too. I'm not sure what "doom jazz" is but developer EggNut said the original soundtrack "adds to the cinematic ambience and tells a story with every sound," and it certainly sounds good in the trailer.

I'm sold already—Backbone is one of those games I immediately know I'm interested in just by looking at it—but if you'd like to sample the goods before you sign the form (metaphorically, that is), Backbone: Prologue offers access to the game's first act for free. It might lack a few of the refinements of the full game (it was released in April 2019), but it promises a little bit of everything: Explore the city, sneak around, solve puzzles, uncover clues, collect evidence, and be a raccoon. Sounds like a pretty well-rounded experience to me.

Backbone is set to launch on June 8 on Steam, GOG (opens in new tab), Epic, and the Microsoft Store, and will also be available on Xbox Game Pass for PC. To learn more, hit up eggnut.net.

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.