Skip navigation

Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1


Episodic games are the wheelhouse of Telltale Games with franchises like Tales of Monkey Island and the Sam & Max series under their belt. Itís no surprise that they dived into creating an episodic series for the Back to the Future franchise. The game takes place after the events of the third movie in a brand new narrative developed specifically for the game. Iím not going to include any direct spoilers, but you will be sucked into the Back to the Future formula within the first 10 minutes of the game. With Doc in trouble, itís up to Marty and the always trusty Einstein to help get Doc out of another jam without disrupting the timeline too much.

back to the future marty and doc

If you havenít played a TellTale game before, the gameplay is a click based adventure game. While you do have free roaming capability with Marty, you are essentially clicking on different objects in the world to interact with them and move the story along. You are also collecting objects in your inventory and combining them with other objects to cause a reaction. You are also attempting to distract other people around Hill Valley so you can rummage through their belongings and collect more useful tools. The majority of the puzzles are simple to solve, but you can rely on the in-game hint system to direct you to the next goal. The game typically offers up to 4 levels of hints, each gradually offering more clues to the next task. You can try to figure it out after the first clue or read all of them immediately to rush through the game.

One gameplay aspect that you have to be careful about rushing through is the dialogue options. To really get the full Back to the Future experience, you need to explore all the conversation choices; plus itís fantastic for directing you into the correct path without relying on the clue system. In addition, the clever writing is filled with inside jokes in relation to the previous movies. Itís also important to wander though your inventory system whenever you get stuck and try thinking about how different objects would react to people, animals or other static objects.

back to the future night time delorean

Graphics

If you have played any previous TellTale games, you will immediately recognize the cartoonish art style, stilted animations and lip syncing issues. Hill Valley is definitely identical to versions that we have seen in the past, but thereís little interactivity to be found in the world. However, none of the typical Telltale design choices really hold the game back. If anything, the design supports the Back to the Future universe and makes you more involved in the story. Back to the Future fanatics (and 80ís movies fans) will love the little graphical touches in the visuals, both in the opening cinematic and later in the story.

Audio

You will be flabbergasted at how well AJ LoCascio replicates the voice of Marty McFly. I often had to remind myself that Michael J. Fox didnít record any lines for the role. That in combination with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc Brown is near perfect voice work. Even the voice actor that covers the pipes for Young Doc Brown is fantastic. My only quibble with the voice acting is the lack of Crispin Glover and Tom Wilson to voice the characters of Martyís Dad and all the Tannens, respectively. Their voices are typically the weakest points of the game and lack the authenticity of the originals.

back to the future  delorean 88 miles per hour

The musical score is top notch and completely reminiscent of the movies. You will notice the main theme immediately as well as all the orchestral queues in the opening scenes of the first movie. The sound effect work is fairly light, mostly because the enviroments are relatively lifeless.

Conclusion

The most glaring fault of the game is that itís been designed for the casual gamer rather than those seeking a tough puzzler. Itís basically impossible to get stuck in the game and fail a level. The hints system makes it even worse and Episode 1 feels more like you are watching a group of stitched together cinematic rather than participating in the story. This is also one of the shortest episodic games that Iíve played this year clocking in at a smidgeon under 2 hours. You will likely be frustrated that you canít continue the story for another couple months.

However, Telltale does a superb job of nailing what makes the Back to the Future movies so rewatchable. The story driven presentation fits within Marty & Docís universe absolutely perfectly and the dedication to finding such an incredible voice replacement for Michael J. Fox is fantastic. If you have any love for the Back to the Future series or simply are looking to digest TellTaleís latest click-happy adventure, you really canít go wrong with Episode 1: Itís About Time. Just donít expect to be racing around on hoverboards escaping a Tannen or actually being able to drive that Delorean in a first person view up to 88 miles per hour.

(FYI, The $24.99 price purchases the entire game for you; all the five episodes as they are released over 2011. Episode 2: Get Tannen is scheduled for release in February 2011.)



Discuss This Game on Our Official VGT Forum