During the latest Nintendo Indie World, Memorable Games and Humble Games announced its story-driven life simulator On Your Tail, and it's actually a secret I had to keep for a while, having played a preview build at Tokyo Game Show.
I was quite eager to talk about the game, as it's one of the most interesting games I checked out at the show, which is funny since it isn't a Japanese title.
You may not be familiar with the name Memorable Games, but it's not a new developer. You may know this indie Italian team as MixedBag, developers of Futuridium EP Deluxe and Forma.8. With On Your Tail, they're moving on to a game that feels a lot more ambitious compared to its predecessors.
The game mixes cozy life sim with dating simulation and Ace Attorney-style investigation with a twist, and it's set in a super-cute seaside town named Borgo Marina, inhabited by anthropomorphic villagers.
The setting certainly pays homage to the developer's origins, as it basically a reproduction of the countless picturesque villages that you can find on the Italian coastline, with their narrow alleys flanked by tightly packed houses that haven't changed much for centuries, its small beaches, and their little family-run shops.
Of course, it feels extremely familiar to me, having spent literally every summer of my youth in this kind of environment, so I may be a little biased in my appreciation of the setting. The nostalgic sensation conveyed by the game was definitely strong.
You play as Diana, a young and inexperienced detective who just arrived in Borgo Marina to spend a memorable summer vacation, but work always gets in the way, so she gets involved in the local mysteries and small crimes.
The visuals are certainly the first notable element of the game, featuring a soft, cartoony, and absolutely adorable 3D style paired with charming 2D artwork. The colors are just perfect for the setting and for the cozy nature of the game. It's just relaxing to watch.
Incidentally, I got to play it on a Nintendo Switch OLED, and the graphics really popped on the bright portable screen.
One of the most interesting aspects of On Your Tail is the system that governs relationships and dialogue. You can wander the town alone, or go on dates with some of the townspeople, and when you interact with other characters, they'll react differently and have different lines depending on whether you're alone or with someone else.
Diana herself will behave in different ways depending on who she's with. For instance, you may find a shady fisherman on a secluded cove near the beach, but whether you'll be able to talk to him at all depends on whether you're alone or with someone else.
I also played one of the game's investigations, which are relatively simple but intriguing. You can talk to witnesses and use your lens to unlock cards that represent certain elements of a crime scene.
Once you are done gathering all the elements, you'll find yourself with a small deck of cards featuring beautiful cartoony art. You then have to arrange them in the correct order to reconstruct the sequence of events. If you succeed, you have cracked the case, otherwise, you have to retry.
Another absolutely lovely aspect of On Your Tail is the minigames. Apparently, there are plenty to enjoy but I tested only one. A classic beach pastime among Italian kids is racing plastic marbles (often decorated with images of soccer players, racing cars, and more) on circuits drawn in the sand.
The game reproduces this game in a lovely way, with accurate physics and all. It generated a charming sensation of nostalgia for the countless days spent on the beach decades ago, playing with the other kids as we pretended to be racing drivers competing at Monza.
The way social interactions are handled by the game and the investigations work very well together, almost making it all look like a cohesive puzzle and leaving me with the desire to further explore Borgo Marina and get to know its cute townspeople.
While my time with On Your Tail wasn't too long, I could definitely glimpse its promise. If you enjoy cozy life sims with adorable casts set in laid-back, colorful worlds, and you don't mind a pinch of mystery added to the mix, this is certainly a game to watch.
On Your Tail does not yet have a release date, but we know that it's coming to PC and Nintendo Switch.
On Your Tail was previewed on Nintendo Switch at Tokyo Game Show 2023.