A player of post-noir detective game Backbone was surprised to complete one of the game’s puzzles using the very numbers tattooed on their arm. While the phenomenon might seem too unlikely to be true, the sequence of numbers is one of the most famous cheat codes and puzzle resolutions in gaming, with a rich history rooted in video game development.
Backbone sees players take on the role of Howard Lotor, a private eye and raccoon tasked with solving mysteries in a dystopian version of Vancouver. While the idea of anthropomorphic animals is usually a lighthearted one, Backbone is a deeply personal narrative game that deals with adult themes including systemic racism, violence, and depression. The video game includes a number of challenging puzzles for players to solve as they work through the story, testing fans’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills throughout. Developed by EggNut and published by Raw Fury, players can download Backbone on PC, Xbox, or play it via Xbox Game Pass.
One of Backbone‘s more difficult puzzles is solved using the well-known code “0451,” something which was particularly pleasing to Modern Wolf community manager, Charis Reid. Reid “had the best” moment playing Backbone when they released the solution to one of the puzzles was literally tattooed on their arm. Avid gamers will likely recognize the numbers, as they’ve appeared in multiple video games over the years, typically as cheat codes, Easter eggs, or puzzle solutions. The numbers’ prevalence in gaming led Reid to get the sequence tattooed, and playing through Backbone was the first time they’d used the code since getting inked. On Twitter, Reid said:
“I started figuring out a puzzle for a code and then part way through I was like… wait… could it be? The first time since I got my tattoo?? Could this be happening Typed it in and YES.”
The numbers are used in Backbone to solve a puzzle involving a locker, with the code needing to be deciphered from scraps of paper. After arranging the papers in the correct way, players will find another gaming reference: a circle, X, triangle, and square, as a nod to the PlayStation controller. These shapes each correspond to a number, which gives the 0451 solution. 0451’s prevalence in gaming is thanks to Looking Glass Studios, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which used the numbers as a door code. As such, staff began to use the numbers in a variety of games from Looking Glass and Ion Storm. The numbers have appeared in lots of titles including Gone Home, Firewatch, the Deus Ex franchise, System Shock, Thief, all three BioShock games, and Prey (2017), to name but a few.
Backbone‘s inclusion of the popular numbers seems to demonstrate that the team at RawEgg has a penchant for video game history. The indie title may be the latest in an ever-growing list to have included a 0451 Easter egg, though it almost certainly won’t be the last. Backbone‘s rich and thriving world could contain even more Easter eggs for fans to discover, whether they’re tattooed on the player or not.