Gorgeous detective adventure game Backbone has pilfered a release date

BlizzConline will live on but BlizzConInPerson is cancelled again

Blizzard have announced that they won’t be able to run an in-person BlizzCon in November and are planning another online show for early 2022.

Detective adventure game Backbone has at last sleuthed itself a release date and it sure has snuck up. This super stylish mystery is set in a dystopian Vancouver populated by animal folks with some mid-century fashion flair. I and multiple other RPS minds have been looking forward to this one for its lovely looks and swell dialogue. You can catch a bit of both here in its new trailer which announces Backbone’s June 8th release date.

I’d expected Backbone to be pretty dark and moody based on what I knew of it so far, but the new release date trailer right here really amps that up with some lounge singer style vocals and electronic beats.

Developers EggNut are calling Backbone a “modern take” on adventure games. It’s got pointing and clicking and talking and puzzling, to be sure. It also has some stealth bits as well.

“After years of small-time cases, lonely evenings, and just barely scraping by, Howard Lotor is swept into a job quite unlike any other before it,” EggNut say. That’s Howard up there, the raccoon fella. “What starts as a menial case slowly unravels into something much darker, pitting Howard against the oppressive, systemic power hierarchies of the City itself.”

Throwback fantasy FPS Graven has launched in early access

The 90s-inspired FPS from 3D Realms and 1C has just launched in early access with all its retro spell slinging and puzzle questing.

Backbone is one of RPS’s most anticipated indie games of 2021 as well. Alice B has played the demo (which is still available on Steam) and had a lot of good to say, particularly about its dialogue.

“Backbone is one of the first games in a long, long while where having a conversation with an NPC actually feels like having a conversation,” Alice says. “You don’t have a set 1,2,3 list of questions or options to ask. Your responses and dialogue choices evolve with the conversation, so you don’t end up in immersion breaking loops. After all, if you’ve just asked someone how their wife is, it’s weird to then immediately go ‘I’m looking for someone!’. And in Backbone, you can’t do that. You have to pay attention and think like you do when you have a chat in real life.”

Backbone - Howard the raccoon detective stands on the sidewalk of a city block overlooking the water. Nearby are a flower cart, other animal people at a picnic bench, a gothic-style city clock, and string lights between buildings.

Personally, I’ve been following along with Backbone purely on the merit of its appearance because I am a simple creature. I thought it looked gorgeous when I first came across it around 2018—and it did—but gosh I think it’s even lovelier yet now. The beautiful lighting and intricate detail in its environments are something I’m really interested to sink into.

Backbone launches on June 8th on Steam, GOG, the Epic Games Store (though its store page doesn’t appear to be up there just yet). It’ll be included in the Xbox Game Pass for PC as well. Console versions are planned for later this year, the developers say.

For anyone who’s as much a sucker for some good tunes as I am, Backbone’s prologue OST is over here, I’ve just learned.

Microsoft and Bethesda’s joint summer showcase is scheduled for June 13

Microsoft and Bethesda are running a joint summer showcase this year