Back to the Dawn: Preview

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Back to the Dawn is an investigative role-playing game developed by Metal Head Games and published by Spiral Up Games. The game is currently in development and was made available for early access on Steam on November 3rd.

The developers anticipate that the early access phase will last for around a year, during which they will work on the storyline for the second playable character, Bob the Black Panther. At present, players can already enjoy the complete storyline of Thomas the Fox, which takes approximately 20 hours to complete the basic story and 50 hours to explore the entire game.

Back to the Dawn: Orange is now your color

In Back to the Dawn, our journey commences with the option to assume the role of either Thomas, a journalist, or Bob, a detective. Presently, the only available choice is to play as Thomas. Right from the start, we are tasked with making a crucial decision concerning the journalist’s background, specifically whether to embark on the path of an undercover, investigative, or war reporter. The outcome of our choice will significantly impact the character’s statistics, penalties, and areas of expertise.

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Thomas becomes entangled in a complicated investigation concerning the mayor, a chemical factory, and water contamination, just as the city elections approach. As a result, we find ourselves targeted by the mayor and his campaign manager, who attempts to bribe us into silence in a thinly veiled manner. After encountering this dubious and intimidating figure, the police coincidentally receive a tip that leads to the discovery of illegal substances in our vehicle, resulting in an unforeseen and unpleasant stint in jail.

Thomas’s ultimate aspiration is to uncover evidence that validates his innocence and the mayor’s involvement in a conspiracy against the city and its less fortunate residents. To accomplish this, we must collaborate with our allies outside the prison, commencing with our attorney friend.

However, our task seems more difficult than it appears, as we must first tackle our daily routine in jail. Life in confinement is marked by a strict schedule and inflexible rules that we must follow to avoid any trouble.

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In addition to the primary objective, we will also have the opportunity to undertake secondary tasks on behalf of both the prison gangs and the guards. These tasks will provide us with rewards in the form of money, reputation, or good conduct points. It is essential to complete the missions, work, and adhere to the mandatory prison routine within the allotted time.

Life behind bars

Interestingly, in Back to the Dawn, activities such as eating, reading, or working deplete our available time, similar to real life. Consequently, we have a limited number of actions we can perform in a day and within specific locations. Additionally, our stamina serves as another constraint, as it is consumed by certain actions and can only be replenished through rest, which, unfortunately, also requires time.

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It is imperative to consider the physiological requirements of our main character as well. He will require nourishment, rest, and bathroom breaks to ensure his physical and mental well-being. Neglecting these needs can result in a significant decline in his overall state, leading to a decrease in important statistics like strength or agility.

Cultivating relationships with fellow prisoners is a crucial aspect of the game. By enhancing friendship levels, players can gain several advantages, including the ability to exchange items. These items can be acquired through exchanges with other prisoners, searching shelves and rubbish, pickpocketing or purchasing them from the guards’ black market.

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Possessing objects is vital for improving Thomas’s quality of life, ranging from essential items like soap and food to tools used for crafting, such as bandages and lockpicks. Additionally, there are also dangerous and prohibited items among the inventory. Depending on their level of danger, these items can increase the violation level. To prevent confiscation, players can conceal them in secret compartments within their cells.

Certain activities trigger a mini-game: some actions, like reading a book, are affected by a dice roll, where achieving a higher score enables us to read at a faster pace. On the other hand, there are other mini-games that do not rely on luck but rather on our skills. For instance, ironing suits in the laundry demands us to accurately estimate the elapsed seconds in order to achieve a well-ironed outcome.

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In Back to the Dawn, our character is controlled by the mouse, similar to point-and-click games, and occasionally the keyboard is utilized in certain mini-games. The game’s visuals are crafted in pixel art, showcasing meticulous attention to detail in the surroundings. Like traditional RPGs, the dialogues are not voiced.

Although the game is labeled as Early Access, it provides a gaming experience that is virtually indistinguishable from a fully developed game. In reality, the game is incredibly stable and encompasses all the fundamental elements. Furthermore, upon its official release, players will have the opportunity to embark on Bob the Black Panther’s captivating story, explore additional areas of the prison, encounter new non-playable characters, and employ fresh escape strategies.

Our verdict

Back to the Dawn is an RPG that offers an intriguing narrative and enjoyable gameplay experience. Featuring numerous side characters and quests alongside the main storyline, this game will undoubtedly captivate us for countless hours. We eagerly await the release of the complete version and recommend its purchase.