It’s been almost three whole decades since the first Back to the Future game was released way back in 1985. After that, 2 more sequels were released, completing the trilogy. Even watching them now, they still hold up really well. I’m glad they didn’t decide to make any more movies based on the film. And the less we talk about the God-awful Back to the Future animated series, the better.
Even though the Back to the Future series was a huge hit, none of the video games based on the series were any good. But, in 2011, Telltale Games finally made a good video game based on the hit trilogy, aptly entitled Back to the Future: The Game. I managed to find the game on sale on the PlayStation Store for less than a dollar! Well, it was 99 cents… even better!
Back to the Future: The Game takes place a year after the events of the third film. Doc hasn’t returned from 1885 and his home and property is going to be auctioned off by the bank. Marty is distraught as he hasn’t seen Doc for a year. All of the sudden, the DeLorean reappears with Einstein in the driver’s seat but no Doc. Fearing his friend maybe in trouble, Marty decides to find Doc and help him.
I’m glad Telltale Games didn’t follow the events of the film and decided to expand on the story. The entire adventure seems like a decent sequel to the films. It uses the current Telltale Games template as well as the game is broken into smaller episodes. Each episode should take around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on how long you get stuck. As the game has a total of 5 episode, the entire adventure should take roughly 8 hours to complete.
The episodic content is rather uneven. There are a couple of standout episodes which throws a few interesting twists but some of them fall incredibly flat. In fact, I would have to say Episode 5, the climax of the series, falls rather flat. I’ll delve more into that in a bit. Suffice to say, the entire finale is a letdown. But Episodes 2 to 4 are pretty good so the game does have a solid middle.
On the PlayStation 3, the controls are simplified. It’s easy to identify the clickable items on the screen as you can simply flick the right analog stick and it’ll automatically select them. However, this in no way makes solving the puzzles any easier! You still have to figure out what to click on and when. Speaking of the puzzles, there were only a few head scratchers so you won’t get stuck frequently. The only time I got stuck was during the 5th episode, which is another reason why Episode 5 sucks.
It’s the design of that specific puzzle actually that got me stuck; I did everything right but it didn’t immediately become solved. That’s not how puzzles in adventure games work! Once you follow the right process or use the correct item, the puzzle should be solved instantly. In this puzzle, it turns out I had to do a specific action for a unspecified length of time, which made me think that I had to do something else. Other than that, I don’t think you’ll actually need a walkthrough as trial and error should be sufficient enough to get through all of them.
Each episode ends with an action sequence of sorts, akin to the climax of a movie. Unfortunately, they work like very boring one-off puzzle sequences that have very little cohesion to the overall game. I do like the attempt to make it feel like the big action sequence at the end of a film but it falls flat. I don’t think I liked any of these sequences and I wish they just made them big cutscenes instead.
What makes Telltale games interesting is that your choices do influence the game. At one point, one of the characters asks for Marty’s name. The game will give you several choices and, whatever you pick, everyone else will be calling you by that name. It does make each playthrough your own. Unfortunately, these decisions are pretty superficial as the final outcome of the game will not change.
The game does introduce a couple of new characters, including a new antagonist of sorts, Edna Strickland. She’s the sister of one of the mainstays of the film series; she’s Principal Strickland’s sister! While her characterization is decent, she definitely doesn’t have the same charm of any of the Tanner clan. I would actually say the Telltale Games characters simply lack the charm of the original cast of characters. It’s a shame but it’s a pretty hard act to follow anyway so I can’t really fault Telltale for failing.
It’s a good thing her voice actress is very well played. In fact, pretty much everyone does a great vocal performance. Although only Christopher Lloyd and Claudia Wells return to portray Doc Brown and Jennifer Parker, the sound alikes turn in excellent work! The guy that did the voice work for Marty McFly did such a great job, I didn’t notice it wasn’t him until I looked at the end credits of Episode 1!
The graphics may seem a little cartoony for some tastes but it does have a certain charm to it. Actually, I applaud Telltales Games artistic direction for the game! It has a very distinctive look and the characters do look like their film counterparts, even though they are three dimentional caricatures of the real thing.
Right now, getting all of the episodes of Back To The Future: The Game will cost you around $25. If your a huge fan of the film, it would be worth it. But if you’re more interested in it as an adventure game, I’d wait for the game to go on sale. Or you can get the first episode (a portion of it is free on PlayStation Store) and try it out and see if you like it first before you take the plunge.
Don’t get me wrong. Back To The Future: The Game is a fine adventure game. I just wish it was a little more even throughout.
Have you tried Back To The Future: The Game? Did it meet your expectations? Let me know what you think of the game in the comments section below.