Back to the Dawn


When starting a new game, you will have to choose your character. To begin with you only have one option, however, there are two other characters you can play once you have unlocked them. One of the other characters is called Black Panther Bob - he’s an undercover detective - and the other character is currently unknown. So, for now you will have to play as Fox Thomas, a journalist for Woodpecker TV. Next you must choose your background from three options: Broadcast Journalist, Undercover Journalist and War Correspondent. Each of the backgrounds will give you Positive Ability, Negative Effect and two Initial Specialty skills.

You’re reporting on the state of the Lameleg River; it has turned purple and stinks to high heaven. This started about two years ago when a nearby chemical plant opened. It has since devastated the surrounding area; the fish are dying off and the residents are coughing and have rashes spreading all over their bodies due to the raw sewage being pumped into the river.

However, protests about the state of the river have fallen upon deaf ears. There are rumours that the mayor’s nephew has a financial interest in the chemical plant and so things are pushed under the rug. So, with your report on the situation, you call out the mayor's lack of response because of his nephew's interest in the chemical plant. The mayor is not happy with this as elections are around the corner and he wants to spend another term in office, something that won’t happen if you keep reporting about the river pollution. It is then that you get a visit from Angelo, the mayor's *cough* campaign manager *cough* to persuade you to drop your report. To help you decide, he has a briefcase stuffed full of money if you don’t follow up on your report. It is up to you whether you take the money or not...

If you don’t take the money, you get stitched up and sent to prison on some bogus charge. The object of the game is to get out of prison before the mayor can win the next election in twenty-one days' time. So, you’re not going to have much time to get through learning how the prison system works and find a way out.

You will be shown to your new digs by Captain Bruce, who expects you to obey him as he is the law around these parts, but you can get on his good side. In your cell you will find your bed, toilet-sink combo, cupboard for storage and a desk where you can craft items and a table and chair. You will be able to store items in your cupboard but there is also a hidden compartment in which you can hide those items that you should not have in your possession.

Your day in prison starts with you waking up at 7am, and while it’s possible to go back to sleep for a while, I tended to crawl out of my pit at 7am as I had recovered all my energy. This also gives you time to brush your teeth and take a dump before you must report for the morning head count. After the head count Captain Bruce will give the day's announcement, which may be of use to you but will probably come at some cost (like everything else inside the prison).

After head count you will have a few hours until lunch. You can use this time to talk to and befriend other inmates, although some inmates will not entertain you until you have increased your reputation. However, this time of the day is best for working, and you can gain permission from Captain Bruce to work in various areas of the prison.

To begin with you only have the chance to work in laundry, but other areas such as the roof or kitchen will become available to you if you earn enough Good Conduct Credits. The credits are mostly earned through doing quests for Captain Bruce, but you will also earn them for working hard. Working in the laundry will not cost you any credits but it will allow you to earn some much-needed money.

Not having any money is a real pain in the botty as everything within the prison requires payment; your food for lunch (if you want anything decent) will cost you, using the weights to build your strength costs money, hell - if you want to go for a tom tit while on recreation it’s going to cost you. So, getting a job is very important, as without money you’re going to struggle.

At lunch you will have a choice of food, but the better food which will help replace your heath etcetera will cost money. You will take your food and sit down at a table; if someone is already at the table you can share your food with them. This will improve your reputation with that inmate; however, you will only gain half of the benefits of the food you purchased. This might not be a problem if you have plenty of health etcetera but when you’re struggling then you may want to keep your food for yourself. If you do require more food, then you can try and demand food from other inmates, just make sure they are lower ranked than you otherwise you could be in for a good spanking.

Recreation follows lunch and you’ll have until 5.30pm for recreation. Here you can pump some iron at the outside gym, visit the church and read books or paint. Although, as with most things inside they are run by gangs who demand payment for you to use these services.

Once recreation is over you will find yourself back in the main building, where you will be able to run around until lockdown at 10pm. Here you’ll be able to collect your dinner, and you can also go for a shower now that the bathroom is open. This had me worried - what was going to happen if I had a shower? I had chosen Broadcast Journalist when choosing my past and had read the negative effect wrong; I’d thought that it said the negative effect was that you would drop the soap in the showers, so I was hesitant about entering one, but you must shower and brush your teeth if you are to maintain your health. I found out later that I had got it totally wrong, and it says you cannot shower without soap. It just goes to show you shouldn’t play games while under the effects of a lack of sleep...

You can also go watch the TV at 9pm each night; as always, you’ll have to pay to watch anything. There are three types of programs to watch: Movies, Sitcoms and Basketball games. Watching movies can help you learn new skills; sitcoms can help to recover your mind and basketball games will allow you to gain experience and place the odd bet if you have the cash to splash.

If you have a cash flow problem, then it is at this time of the day that you can visit one of the gangs and get a loan. However, you’ll need to repay the loan within a few days. If you don’t repay, then expect to get a good kicking when the guards aren’t looking. You can also use the gang to hold on to your money and earn some interest. This can be helpful as there are some inmates who could end up taking all your money and leaving you with nothing.

Another gang runs a fight club where you can earn both cash and reputation if you fight other inmates. You’ll be able to bet on the fights, too; the rules for the fights are “one-on-one and no weapons”.

As in other parts of the day you can interact with the inmates, and if you are to find a way out of the prison and get your life back you will have to befriend your fellow inmates. Befriending an inmate, they will tell you their story and after that you will be able to trade or chat with them. Some inmates such as gang leaders or those with higher reputations cannot be befriended until you raise your reputation to a specific level. In the meantime, you can do quests for them which will help improve your relationship with them. Giving characters a gift can also increase your reputation with them, just make sure you give them the right gift otherwise it could be a waste of your resources and they could end up thinking you’re a bit of a lunatic.

The main story quests don’t come with a time limit; well, you’ve got twenty-one days to complete all the quests so that you can get out, but quests from Captain Bruce or others may come with a deadline. You will want to complete a quest before the deadline otherwise it could have an effect on your reputation with those who gave you the quest.

At 10pm each evening you will be locked in your cell; you can sit and craft some items if you have the resources and when ready go to bed. However, if you go to bed and your health is below thirty then you could end up suffering in the morning with pain or other problems which will affect you throughout the day. So, try and make sure you keep your health up before going to bed otherwise you may well exit the prison but not in the condition you want.

I love the graphics of the game; the characters are great, all different types of animals with quirky backgrounds. The game has run for the most part without any hassles. Although I did have the game freeze on me once, it wasn’t a big problem as I never really lost any progress because I had only just loaded the game.

The only other issue I had with the game was more of an annoyance than a problem; when exiting the game, I would get a message popup saying the game had crashed. This happened every time I played the game. I have been playing a beta version, so a full release version of the game might not have this problem.

I have enjoyed playing Back to the Dawn; I haven’t managed to get out yet, but I’m getting there slowly.

In the settings you will find options for Resolution, Display Mode, Language (English and Chinese), V-Sync, Music, Sound Effects and Ambient Sound Volume Sliders.

Review written by Piston Smashed™ for

Back to the Dawn Steam Store Page


+ Fantastic graphics
+ Good story
+ Nice characters
+ Crafting and learning skills
+ Has achievements


- Crashes on exiting the game
- Game froze on me once
- No cards currently

Review Summary

Sent to prison on a bogus charge, you have to learn to survive, earn a reputation with the inmates, craft items and find a way to escape and prove your innocence, all before the mayor is re-elected in only 21 days' time.

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Zeepond Rating: 7/10