Back to the Future is an episodic series created by Telltale based off the popular films by the same name. Released on iOS throughout 2011 to positive review, Back to the Future has grown into one of Telltales most popular interactive adventures series.
Set 7 months after the events of the trilogy… Marty hasn’t seen Doc since he left with his family at the end of the 3rd movie. Considered dead by the bank, they have started to clean out his lab & sell off his stuff, led by Marty’s father, George McFly & Biff Tannen.
During this lab clear out Marty discovers Doc’s notebook based on time travel & after getting it off Biff he goes outside. A DeLorean time machine shows up unexpectedly with Doc’s dog Einstein & a tape recording for Marty. When Marty plays the tape-recording he discovers that the DeLorean came back on an automatic system that operates should Doc be in trouble.
After using clues & a bit of investigation Marty discovers that Doc is trapped in 1931 & is due to die having been killed by ‘Kid’ Tannen after burning down his speakeasy.
Marty uses the time machine to go back to 1931, the day before Doc will be killed & sets about trying to rescue him.
Across the five episodes alterations to the timeline here & there add more meat to the bones of the story & sees Marty jumping between the past, future & alterative Hill Valleys.
As stories go it’s not the most unique & interesting that it could have been but for fans of the film series it feels like it fits well. Episode 1 & 2 can leave you feeling a bit cold as there is little variation between the 2 really. The story really gets going once you hit episode 3 & it continues at a break-neck speed from that point onwards. I was on the fence about the game as a whole after Episode 2 but by time I finished Episode 5 I was in love with it.
The quality of the game overall is helped by the fantastic voice acting particularly Marty who is voiced by a Michael J Fox sound-alike (you won’t know the difference – really) & Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown to add some Back to the Future authenticity to the game.
As the main 2 characters it is easy to overlook many of the supporting cast but one of the great things about the game is the many characters that you meet. Tannen is an excellent bad-guy throughout & he fits so well into the Back to the Future world. It makes sense that the Tannen’s would have someone like Kid in their family.
Other characters like Jennifer, Marty’s parents & Edna Strickland get huge roles throughout as well & help draw you in. Edna in particular has a huge role to play & is both frustrating & sympathetic.
Looks wise it’s not the most polished of Telltales games with sharp, jagged edges & frame-rate drops/jumps happening more than it should. At times pieces of dialogue appear to be missing as well with people’s lips moving & no sound coming out. It’s always disappointing when this happens even if it won’t spoil your enjoyment of the overall experience.
What may spoil it though are the mostly lacklustre puzzles that rarely challenge or inspire. Later in the game some get a bit more inventive but with a hint system available in the options it is far too tempting just to hit the button & get the solution when struggling. The biggest problem lies in the lack of inventiveness & often it is as easy as just trying inventory items on everything (not that you get much).
There are some good ones such as an excellent experimentation one that sees young Doc arguing with his father & dropping in key words for Marty to listen out to. These words are instructions about what part of the experiment to do next & it gets increasingly tough. It’s fun & clever but lacks any real punishment for messing it up.
Lastly I have to mention that the game uses the films score as well as variations on the main theme & it is excellently done. One of my favourite things about the game in fact is how well the music fits every part. The theme is iconic & to see it used in such a well-done way puts a smile on my face.
Episode 1 & 2 are iffy…there is no doubting it but stick with it & you’ll be rewarded with an excellent final trilogy. Problems with boring & easy puzzles might dampen the experience but as an overall package Back to the Future hits the mark in a lot of places. In a way it’s better than a lot of future Telltale games keeping elements of the point & click genre alive.
Telltale's Back To The Future