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Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1 review

AT A GLANCE
  • Doc and Marty are voiced perfectly
  • Some great moments near the end
  • Hints keep you from getting stuck
  • Some obtuse puzzles
  • Drags in the middle
  • Are we going to have to stay in 1930s?

We’ll save you some time and cut to the chase: you will enjoy the first episode of Back to the Future: The Game if the following conditions are true… 1) you’ve seen the first Back to the Future movie, or at least have a general understanding of the basic plot points, and 2) you bear no ill will toward the franchise and are open to the idea of an all-new adventure with Marty and Doc played out in videogame form, and finally, 3) you are willing to forgive the episode for a few stereotypical “adventure-game” moments of confusion and frustration before you hit the final payoff. Developer Telltale’s newest episodic series has the biggest built-in fanbase yet, so we’re pleased to report that it does its source films justice. That said, the game still carries with it the shortcomings of the traditional point-and-click genre, and it’s too soon to say if the series will be able to maintain its momentum across five episodes.



Taking control of the red-vested, guitar-playing hero Marty McFly (voiced by an uncanny Michael J. Fox sound-alike), you’ll travel from the “present” - the 80s, of course - back in time to the 1930s, a time of underground speakeasies and pinstripe suit-wearing gangsters. As we’ve come to expect from Telltale, the script, voice acting and cartoony art style here produce plenty of grins and fit the tone of the films perfectly. With Bob Gale, the screenwriter for all three BttF films at the writing helm, dedicated fans can expect to catch clever nods to the series’ canon throughout the experience. The one and only Christopher Lloyd jumps right back into character as the raspy-voiced Doc Brown, while veteran voice actor James Arnold Taylor (Ratchet from Ratchet & Clank) does a great job portraying Doc from the 30s, a 17-year old, barely pubescent law clerk stuck under his father’s thumb who needs Marty’s help to unearth his secret scientific passions.

The first hour or so of the experience is great at pulling you in: walking around the charmingly-realized 1930s-era Hill Valley gives you the same initial sense of wonder that the films did; unfortunately, however, when the game gives you the most freedom to explore, it also slows the pace of the game significantly. You’re charged with delivering a subpoena to a gangster and getting some alcohol from a speakeasy to fuel young Doc Brown’s invention - these tasks are completed using the type of circuitous logic that adventure games are so often criticized for. You know, the use-the-dog-to-sniff-the-hat-to-uncover-the-key-to-unlock-the-door-to give-you-the-note-to-call-the-dentist-to-create-a-distraction kind of logic puzzle.

As with most of Telltale’s games, a built-in hint system will guide you through each brainteaser, but it’s tough not to get stuck at some point. Luckily, the episode ends with some of the cleverest and (believe it or not) most exhilarating tasks we’ve experienced in a point-and-click game. We won’t spoil them for you here, but the last 30 minutes of the game alone are fun enough to make you (almost) forget about that damn soup kitchen puzzle.



Back to the Future: The Game is at its best when it’s fast-paced and doesn’t bog you down with too many choices to make or inventory items to keep tabs on - the episode ends on a high note because its puzzles generate and maintain a sense of momentum that the middle section lacks. Episode 1 predictably ends on a cliffhanger, and many plot elements are left unresolved. The teaser for Episode 2 seems to suggest we’ll be spending more time in the 1930s before moving to new eras - considering Telltale’s bad habit of recycling locations between episodes, we’re a bit worried about this time period getting stale. Still, if episode 1 is the equivalent of this season’s “pilot,” you can be sure we’re interested to see where Doc and Marty go next.

Dec 23, 2010

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, Wii, iPad, PC
Genre: Adventure
Developed by: Telltale Games
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

9 comments

  • Peanut726 - December 23, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    I love back to the future, but never played a point and click really. This might be my gateway
  • sweetzombiejesus - December 23, 2010 10:02 p.m.

    I didnt watch the third movie, but I still might get this.
  • garnsr - December 23, 2010 10:03 p.m.

    I just got the Strongbad games on PS3, and I've enjoyed the Sam and Max and Monkey Island games, but I'm not sure I'll pick these up. If they offer them for a good bundle price I probably will, eventually.
  • ssj4raditz - December 24, 2010 12:22 a.m.

    GREAT SCOTT!! (because someone had to do it...)
  • ventanger - December 24, 2010 1:03 a.m.

    Good news: You can get the first episode for free Bad news: You can't play it until just before the second episode comes out. Boo, I was anxious to play it.
  • tiben36 - December 24, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    its good play a bit, but i cant figure out some things maybe its because im too tired and that its almost christmas (1:41 AM, just stop playing it, started 1:00 AM) only thing not too fun is walking
  • MassSaber - December 24, 2010 9 p.m.

    I hope this gets A XBLA release Tell tale would be crazy not to
  • Ben_Reillys_Ghost - January 11, 2011 1:40 p.m.

    Anybody know of any XBLA details? I thought that Telltale said one of their previous games were going to be on Live, but nothing ever happened.
  • Sinsational - February 21, 2011 11:58 p.m.

    lol Well, of course the Doc is voiced perfectly; Telltale hired Christopher Lloyd to reprise his role! And Marty did a pretty bang-up job.

Showing 1-9 of 9 comments

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