Ever wondered what prison life would be like as a talking animal? Well, now you get the chance in Back to the Dawn, a top-down RPG made by the developers Metal Head Games. Fret not, it’s not a game about furries, it’s just a prison tale made more charming with cute animals.
You play as a journalist fox with the prestigious name of Thomas, investigating an industrial spill, killing fish, and making people sick. But since it’s poor people affected, not much is done, and soon it is discovered that the mayor is involved in this scandal, which explains further why nothing is done. It’s an election year, and this leads to you being contacted by staff working for the mayor, and you are made an offer – stop the investigation for a sum of money or a serious problem might head your way. And what do you know, just moments after leaving the meeting you are being set up. Cops search your vehicle and a large stash of drugs is found, and with that, you are promptly thrown in prison.
It’ just your general corruption, which hits kinda close to home considering the political landscape, but that is a story for another time. From here on, you will have to survive prison life, and what I assume going by the main quest presented in the demo – nail the mayor for the crime committed.
It sure is a nice premise for an RPG, and what the demo tells me – it’s all well-thought-out. There are a lot of stats to keep tabs on, multiple characters from prison mates to guards to talk to, and befriend. And there is a turn-based system for combat too, so what not to like? You get to survive one day as a prisoner in the demo, and yes, there is a hard schedule to follow, but as it looks, there seems to be a lot of stuff to find and do during your time incarcerated with the crux of having a time limit. Which is fine to me. I know a lot of people who don’t like any kind of time pressure, but I find the urgency enjoyable, and to be honest, it’s almost a given in a prison game. Plan your time, protect your stash, and keep an eye over your shoulder always.
Since it’s an RPG, there are of course quests – main quests and side quests. I managed to complete 2 side quests that gave me some money, but stuff and favors are not cheap on the inside. Money and items seem to be fairly rare, which I think is cool and adds to the immersion. And not to forget, there is a crafting system too for those that enjoy that. You have to mind your reputation as well, and from what I understand it works a bit like a leveling system. Like you need a certain kind of rep/level, to do some stuff. There are also gangs present that you can join, 3 of them to be exact. What these gangs will do, and how it will affect your game is a mystery, but I assume it might be for both good and bad. However, if you want to maintain your innocence… Well, those that live will see when the full game is released.
Visually, I think the game looks fantastic. Great pixel art combined with an impressive amount of animations. The UI, and the cartoon-style introduction, were also superbly made. So, graphically, Back to the Dawn sure stands out. There is no voice acting, but music there is plenty. It had this hard techno vibe going for it, which suits the prison environment well.
All in all, the presentation is top-notch, and so seem the gameplay and RPG mechanics. I recommend giving the demo a go, and hopefully, it will convince you to wishlist it as it did for me. According to the Steam page, the game is set for release next year.
Thanks for reading.