Back To The Future: The Game
Had to take some time to soak in how the impression of TellTale’s early take on narrative-based gaming would settle. Playing and expressing the experience after having The Walking Dead entries in your rear-view required a bit of flexing.
Back To The Future: The Game is flawed in terms of mechanics and some of its structure, but you have to keep in mind that this was TellTale’s early take on what would eventually become an efficiently, deep and impactful system with each end every future narrative-based game release.
That said – the rest of what’s reflected here is really going to hold off on drawing comparison to TellTale’s newer releases. Best be left at the knowledge that any subsequent releases are superior to this game, as should be expected.
Now, Back To The Future: The Game picks up sometime after Back To The Future III – is this Back to the Future IV? That’s not entirely clear, but it picks up the storyline and it wouldn’t be a Back To The Future story if it didn’t leap back and forth on the chalkboard onto alternate realities.
Marty McFly, having lost touch with Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown since the events of Back To The Future III finds himself sorting through Doc’s belongings as part of an estate sale forced on the property in light of Doc’s absence.
During the sorting, Marty finds a DeLorean Time Machine with Doc’s dog Einstein inside. A tape recorder alludes to Doc having run into some kind of issue in the past and how the DeLorean was set go the present time in case of any emergency. Through his actions, Doc Brown has set in motion what amounts to five episodes of alternate reality jumping and timeline splitting. Time travel as it turns out is a messy business.
As stated, the series is divided into five episodes, each running about three hours or so, depending on how you do with some of the puzzle elements in the game. Each with its own theme but tied to an over-arching story line that manages to tie up somewhat neatly at the end.
Episode 1: “It’s About Time”
Probably alluding to the fact that it has been decades since the previous entry in the franchise, this episode sets off Marty’s rescue mission and some unintended concequences that go with meeting his own grandfather in 1931.
Episode 2: “Get Tannen”
Trying to prevent his own disappearance from the timeline, Marty and Doc race to save Mary’s grandfather from Biff’s gangster grandfather, Kid Tannen.
Episode 3: “Citizen Brown”
This is where things start to go sideways and through some series of events at the end of the previous episode Doc Brown has changed the timeline turning Hill Valley (Marty’s home town) into a dystopian 1984-like reality. Brainwashing, surveilance and a heavy dose of oppression are in abundant supply.
Episode 4: “Double Visions”
Concluding the events of the previous episode, “Double Visions” has Marty and Doc revisiting a young Doc Brown in order to attempt a fix on what’s happened so far. Mostly this episode involves one large puzzle with the goal to persuading the young Doc Brown to return to his love of science in order to set things right.
Episode 5: “Outatime”
Hill Valley needs Doc and Marty and Marty and Doc need some help with their own relationship. Doc begins to second guess his direction and if his goals align with Marty’s. There’s guest voice acting work in this episode by Michael J. Fox which helps to round out Christopher Lloyd’s work throughout the series.
Overall, the series offers a good follow up to the franchise and in true TellTale fashion – (or what would become a hallmark of their work) there is a slightly deeper look at the relationship between the two main characters and bringing to light some of the underlying tensions within it, something the films didn’t really bother to dig into much. Mostly, if you’re a fan of the franchise and don’t mind a bit of clunky point-and-click and the PG nature of this TellTale game, Back To The Future: The Game is worth a spin.