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Backstage is a "classic" rm2k3 psychological horror adventure game made in one month, in the early spring of 2005, for the first ever Release Something. It is probably my best received game of all time, and I am very proud of it, especially because it was completed in such a short time!

"Hell isn't a place, but a state of mind. Hell lives within us all."

Tom Keller is lost. He has gone astray, and become trapped in a nightmare world that is a twisted mirror image of our own, tormented by horrific abberations, haunted by shattered memories. He is alone behind the world, and to escape, he must come to terms with all of his sins.


Tom Keller is an average enough guy, although one badly down on his luck. On the evening this nightmare begins, he's coming home from a fancy dinner with his wife, at a nice restaurant- where she took him to tell him she was leaving him, and where he still picked up the check. She's kicked him out of the house and had the locks changed, and he's had quite a bit to drink after dinner, and wants nothing more than to call her and give her the piece of his mind. He's already checked into a seedy hotel down town, where he plans to sleep it off after making a phone call. However, he is about to step through to the other side of a mirror that will warp and destroy everything he thought he knew about his life.

Alice Sirafas is an enigmatic and intriguing dark haired woman, the polar opposite in appearance and attitude of Tom's soon-to-be-ex wife Lucy. She seems to know Tom, although he can't remember from where, and she seems to have both a troubled past and a loose grip on reality. However, by the time Tom meets her, she may be his only ally against the shadows that lurk and wait Backstage.

Detective Aaron Wilks is a dedicated and honorable law man, one of the only clean cops in a department rife with corruption. When his partner is killed by a serial killer, and the case file is purposely misfiled, vaulted, and buried by the chief of police, Wilks sets out to find the truth, and get revenge, even though his superiors have specifically ordered him off the case. Putting his career and his life on the line, Detective Wilks tracks the killer to a hotel downtown.

Mask is a mysterious figure who Tom soon meets once he falls through the cracks of this world into the bloody shadows of the next. Although Mask appears to be human, he seems to have some kind of control over the horrifc creatures that stalk the darkness backstage. He explains that he is trying to help Tom, and educate him, but his methods of ‘education' seem more like torture as he stalks Tom through the twisted mirror world he can't seem to escape from.


Backstage is best played in near total darkness, with good quality speakers, or even better, headphones, with the volume turned up high. Not only will this enhance the atmosphere of the gameplay experience, and give the game a fair chance to scare the hell out of you, a dark background will make several of the game's darker areas easier to see, and quality speakers or headphones will let you hear some of the subtler directional cues to the game's audio puzzles.


Backstage has 3 Endings that can be earned depending on your actions throughout the game, and a Rank System that is...broken.

if you enjoyed Max McGee's releases, especially Ruptured Souls...
and if you like horror games in general,
especially Silent Hill...
and you haven't played this yet,
what are you waiting for?

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Review By Indigo Streetlight

This review was mysteriously rejected by staff, but the author passed it on to me so I am passing it on to you.

I say mysteriously not because the reasons were undeclared, but because when I staffed this site this would have easily met our standards for a review to be accepted. I could probably point to ten or twenty worse reviews on the forums right now. Admittedly, I would not have done the review in the form of a numbered list, but I'm not here to CRITIQUE Indigo Streetlight's critique, just to share it. So without further ado, here it is:

"Between Revenge and Redemption - 4 Stars (Submitted on 7/13/2010)

When I think of Backstage, sometimes it surprises me the that term "ideal reader" from my college writing courses comes to mind. Having played Silent Hill 1 through 4 myself, I have a certain body of work to draw upon in the enjoyment of Max's creation. As such, I would consider myself an "audience" that would be most likely to give a game like this a positive review.

From the perspective of fandom, Backstage is absolutely effective in alluding to and exploring many concepts from the Silent Hill universe, including the "Monsters as People" premise and the fact that the Otherworld can never be trusted. The player can never be quite sure if Tom is crazy going in, or if each horror and unhinging of reality is all some elaborate construction aimed at weakening his sense of self--so that a hellish force can lay claim to his soul (That's what I call good, wholesome entertainment right there).

In fact, I can only judge Backstage on how well it transfers the nostalgia, atmosphere, and game mechanics of the SH genre into the limitations of the RPGMaker 2003 software; that is the source of its charm. I would do so in the form of colorful literature--if it weren't for the fact that bulletpoints would save us much aggravation in organization, jumping back and forth and so on. Not all of these are clear-cut pros and cons, but merely observations.

1. The layout of many areas, namely the church and hotel, were strongly reminescent of Silent Hill maps, only more compact. This could be considered an improvement for it cuts down on the number of broken doors to check--always notorious in early SH games.

2. The use of music was mostly acceptable, but at times struck me as ear-filler for areas that could be dressed in original tunes (and still portray the same moods). In my opinion the clips which accompanied the otherworld activation (with the blowing snow) and the forboding "cult drums in the hallway" were used to the best effect. On the other hand, the tinny tune used for Tom's first long chat with Alice was enough to make me look over my shoulder--the only way I can describe it is "a feeling of self-consciousness" due to the geek-factor.

3. Some might consider the battle system in Backstage "primitive"; however, I noticed that the inability to change weapons made some areas more like puzzles, i.e. that you were more likely to make it to the next area if you destroyed monsters in a certain order. In my first play through, this involved some trial and error, in my second matters were much easier since I knew which golem-creatures to avoid or when to pick up certain weapons. Still, there's always a little bit of thought which goes into the otherwise automatic battles: if you have some extra medical supplies sitting around do you hold off picking up the glass shard, punching out some demon dogs so you can save the shard's defensive capabilities for more damaging Hunter-type creatures?

4. Graphical limitations did make key-finding a little more challenging. In Silent Hill, a camera angle could shift to tell the player to "Search Here", but Backstage has none of these luxuries. And you usually don't expect to find a dirty toilet in an otherwise clean hotel room!

5. The plot-lines for the most part were well done; my only qualm here is out of three branching paths, only one (Revenge) delivered the true identity of Mask with sufficient dramatic impact. In the other two paths he loses some thunder in revealing himself too early (without the scenes with the psychologist to bring everything together). Though I still like the scene where a certain character--while walking beside another--flashes and changes into Mask; you can't get much cooler than that in the 16 bit world.

6. There is one complaint I have which applies to Backstage and Silent hill 2 equally: the inability to save other characters (NPCs) from certain damnation. As an added twist, it would have been nice to see Tom completely deny his memories along with the input from the Otherworld and actually return to a normal life with his wife Lucy. Afterall, that tuxedo he wore in the beginning had to come from somewhere..."

I sure hope that Indigo can make whatever minor changes need to be made to this review so that staff can accept it to the site.
  • Completed
  • Max McGee
  • RPG Tsukuru 2003
  • Adventure
  • 11/12/2008 11:48 PM
  • 06/14/2022 07:32 PM
  • 11/13/2008
  • 257866
  • 41
  • 11756


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Mapping design could use more work.
Some chipsets don't match the background.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
I'm gonna go out on a limb based on the fact that you could not possibly have had time to play this game between the time it went up and the time of your comment, and guess you rated the game based on its screenshots. Commenting is fine but plz don't rate games without playing them. There is a download link and it is yours to click. Thank you. : )
This turned out to be a great game once the plot unfolds.
gameplay had lots of suspense but could be even scarier
as originally contemplated. rate 7/10. In terms of violence, rate 9/10.
Descent but not as good as expected.
This turned out to be a great game once the plot unfolds. gameplay had lots of suspense but could be even scarier as originally contemplated. rate 7/10.
In terms of violence, rate 9/10. Interesting to see that Bob-frank aside
from being a "stupid name" made virtually no comments in the forums
or contributions to the game.
I got a 'D' ranking on my first play-round. Ha! :) Go meeee~
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
Thank you for a review, daymarket.

The ranking system is broken.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
My last post was in Engrish and I can't edit it. Thank you for "a" review? wth.
and so i continue to please my RPG loving ego with RPG Maker games lolz
how in the hell do i kill Mask seriously why is he so hard i mean i only have 10 hp i dont see how i can kill him when theres millions of scythes attking me
This would be pretty fun to play, actually. Next time I hang out with a few of my friends I'll play it. I can't handle scary stuff on my own.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence

Let me guess, you joined videogaming after the NES era? You young whipper-snappers don't know how to deal with DIFFICULTY. Seriously, the boss fight isn't without its flaws but it's not impossible.

This is really well put-together. I especially like how the pacing is very fast and there's this feeling of "OH SHIT MOVE MOVE!" throughout the game. Unfortunately I stopped at the Poisoned Lake, but it was really good for what I played. I'm kind of bummed out that I wont get to see what happens to Emma and that other fellow. I would continue but I suck at difficult games and I couldn't make it through the area that I died in.

Also, the music with the modern bands was a bit weird but kind of cool in a strange way. I liked all of the songs well enough though. Even Pennywise.

^Holy shit I'm an idiot. I meant to post that on your Everything Turns Grey page. Apologies Max.
This sounds like a great game i'll try it sooner or later.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
In hindsight, man is this a very old game.

That's cool, thanks for the input even if it was on the wrong page. : P
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