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Vancouver transformed into a dystopia in gorgeous post-noir detective game (PHOTOS)

The game allows the player to explore the city and engage in elaborate dialogues inspired by old school CRPGs

A beautiful and disturbing game set in an anthropomorphic dystopian version of Vancouver pits the player against a dark storyline involving classism, racism and murder.

Backbone, a post-noir roleplaying detective adventure game developed by the EggNut game studio, allows you to step into the shoes of Howard Lotor, a rough and tough trench coat and tie-wearing private investigator. After years of small-time cases, lonely evenings, and just barely scraping by, Lotor is swept into a job quite unlike any other before it. A modern take on the classic point-and-click adventure, the gameplay allows you to explore the world and engage in elaborate dialogues inspired by old-school CRPGs.

The game’s prologue, now playable on Steam, shows off the city through high-resolution pixel art and 3D effects like dynamic lighting, pouring rain, fog and neon lights. Along with the stunning visuals comes an impeccable soundscape including what the game’s developers describe as “dystopian doom jazz.”

Playing as Lotor you start off by speaking to a pregnant otter named Odette about her husband who just hasn’t been himself lately. Along with acting oddly, Odette says her husband has been coming home late often smelling of someone else's perfume and something... herbal (this is Vancouver after all). Your task is to gather information and evidence on what Odette believes is her husband’s unfaithfulness. 

The case seems like a straightforward one, Lotor even calls it “easy peasy” on his to-do list. So you start out, stepping onto Granville Street which Lotor says smells like wet concrete and overpriced fast food - some things don’t change even in alternate realities. 

The investigation doesn’t go well at the start, other characters are wary of talking to you, seeming almost immediately suspicious of you. This is due in part to the line of work you’re in but a bouncer at The Bite jazz club highlights a darker theme, not allowing you to enter due to your species -- a raccoon. It seems only members of classes above your own are permitted entrance, specifically the wealthier and more desirable cats and dogs.

Lotor presses on though with help from an old acquaintance named Larry who has fallen on hard times and hangs out in a grunge-filled alleyway. Through puzzle-solving, code-cracking and suspenseful stealth sequences Lotor uncovers something much darker, pitting him against the oppressive, systemic power hierarchies of the city itself.

The full game is set to be released on PC on June 8.