Back to the Future – Episode 1 PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Great Scott! I’m writing about a Back to the Future game without having travelled back to 1991. To be brutally honest, the Back to the Future games of the past weren’t something you would build a time travelling DeLorean for, they were all painfully dreadful. Telltale Games, the studio that strives on making great episodic adventure games, have picked up the license to make a season (five episodes) using the Back to the Future license. Whohohoho, the future is looking a whole lot better!
Rather than simply have the player experience the movie in an adventure game format, Telltale decided to create a whole new story for this season of Back to the Future. Apart from the lovely nostalgic opening of the game, which is a scene recreated from the first movie when Doc and Marty McFly watch Einstein successfully become the world’s first time traveller, the rest of the episode is all new content in the movie’s universe.
In the timeline of the films, Back to the Future: The Game is placed six months after the events of the third instalment. Marty hasn’t heard from Doc Brown in the six months that has passed, and is finding it hard to adjust to life without his best buddy. Just as Doc Brown’s belongings are about to be sold off by the bank, a DeLorean appears out of nowhere with Einstein in the driver’s seat. Inside are hints to the whereabouts of Doc, so off Marty goes on his newest time travelling adventure to 1931, where Doc Brown is in jail for allegedly being an arsonist.
One thing that shines in Telltale’s take on the franchise is how much work has gone into faithfully recreating the characters . All the characters feature their actor’s likenesses but with a more cartoon-ish design. Christopher Lloyd returns to voice the Doc, albeit sounding a little older, which is to be expected really. One thing that at first might sound a little disappointing is that Telltale couldn’t get Michael J. Fox to do the voice of Marty McFly. Instead they found a guy who does the best impression of Marty you’ll ever hear, a Mr A.J. LoCascio. He’s so good that Christopher Lloyd thought he was Michael J. Fox after hearing a demo tape.
The soundtrack and sound effects are ripped straight from the films, with variations of the original score thrown in for good measure. Even a classic song from the movies appears in the ending credits. From start to finish, the nostalgic rush you get from playing this game is just too much to hide, forcing you to smile with delight. If it came down to scoring games on how much love went into creating them, then Telltale would score a perfect 10. The atmosphere, location detail and persona of the characters are all spot-on.
As gameplay goes, Back to the Future follows the same mechanics of Telltale’s tried and tested formula from their past adventure games. It’s a linear point and click adventure with branching dialogue options, and puzzles to solve in order to progress. Much like Sam and Max Save the World, you physically control Marty rather than clicking to move. There’s one slight problem though; the puzzles, the thing that makes every adventure game, are too easy.
I guess in a way it makes sense for the first episode to be easy, certainly for something as big as a franchise as Back to the Future. Telltale are most likely taking into account how many people who will play Back to the Future: The Game that haven’t played an adventure game before, or at least haven’t played one for some time. People will be interested in these episodes that don’t normally play those types of games, so I can see why Telltale would go for a low level of difficulty. I really hope that the next episodes bump up the challenge a little because at the moment, the game feels more like an interactive story rather than a proper adventure game. It’s not like the developers couldn’t up the challenge as the game has a worthy hint system implemented.
It’s quite hard to recommend Back to the Future: The Game to people that haven’t seen (or that aren’t fans of) the movies. Telltale has created a game for the followers, so if you have no interest then you won’t get many of the charming jokes and references (which there are a ton of) that the game is filled with. If you’re a gamer and a fan who just wants to know what happens to Doc Brown and Marty McFly, then the first episode comes highly recommended to you since this feels like an extension to the movie franchise, a Back to the Future IV if you will. You probably won’t care for the number at the bottom of this review as the well represented story is all that matters.
However as a game it’s a little disappointing that it couldn’t have had a bit more depth to the puzzles. It is a very linear experience and there isn’t much room to explore, but at least it shows how much respect Telltale has for making a licensed product. As a gamer I found it enjoyable, but as a fan I finally found an excellent extension to the film trilogy I love.
When this game boots up, you’re gonna see some serious shit.