You are currently viewing Tails: The Backbone Preludes Review – Too Short To Really Shine in 2023
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Tails: The Backbone Preludes Review – Too Short To Really Shine in 2023

Introduction to Backbone Preludes

A great supporting act, but not enough meat to justify being a standalone prequel. I’m struggling to remember the last time I had to pay attention to very specific details in a game, beyond battle mechanics or the general awareness of plodding along and pressing buttons.

In many puzzle games, you can always resort to trying different combinations until one works, even if you don’t fully grasp the situation. But few games force your thinking cap down on your head and loiter over you menacingly, making sure you take note of what you’re reading on the screen.

Attention to Detail and Choices Matter

An early moment in Tails: The Backbone Preludes is the perfect example of this. As Renee, you access her computer to view all the case files and reports regarding a disturbance and fire that she’s been investigating.

It’s not light reading by any means, and at first glance, you might even dismiss it as the usual essay-length lore. However, paying attention is important, as you need to know the specific details to thoroughly convince Lukas, her husband, when discussing the case with him. Tails presents branching outcomes based on your choices, and paying attention leads to better results for each character.

Mixing Puzzle Mechanics and Narrative

Not every segment of the game is as involved as the case files, and Tails doesn’t bill itself as a puzzle game Backbone Preludes. Some sections are more narrative-driven, where you’re clicking through conversations to move the story along. You still make choices in the dialogue, shaping your character’s path, but you’re not interacting with the world or solving problems.

Beautiful Pixel Art and Varied Gameplay

Tails is a prequel to 2021’s Backbone and is set in the same dystopian version of Vancouver, inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. It features breathtakingly detailed pixel art that is truly mesmerizing. The attention to detail is evident, with pixels reflecting lights and rain droplets adding to the immersion.

The game Backbone Preludes focuses on four characters – Howard, Clarissa, Renee, and a new character named Eli. You switch between them, experiencing scenes from different periods in their lives. This, combined with the varied gameplay of puzzle-solving and dialogue-focused scenes, keeps you engaged.

Choices Shape the Experience

Gameplay in Tails is tailored to your choices. Every dialogue choice and action you take affects the experience. Comparing choices with a friend adds another layer of enjoyment, as you discuss the different outcomes and share your mistakes. The game Backbone Preludes showcases the branching paths and provides a summary of what happened to each character at the end of their segment.

A Teaser That Leaves You Wanting More

However, there are aspects of Tails that feel unsatisfying. The plot threads don’t converge, and the game Backbone Preludes ends rather abruptly, leaving you without a sense of closure. It becomes clear that the characters will play their part in a larger story arc, but this prequel doesn’t provide the full picture.

While Tails bills itself as “built to be replayed,” replayability relies too heavily on replaying the entire game to see different outcomes. This can be discouraging, especially when some segments feel dull or uninteresting upon a second playthrough.


In the end, Tails: The Backbone Preludes is a beautiful game with an intriguing plot and fantastic puzzle mechanics. However, it falls short as a standalone experience and plays second fiddle to its predecessor.

It serves more as a teaser or demo, tempting players to jump into the full story of Backbone rather than standing as a fully-fledged game in its own right. If you’re captivated by the world of Backbone, Tails offers a glimpse into its characters’ lives, but don’t expect a complete narrative or closure.

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