librariangmr's Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1: It's About Time (PC) review

This is heavy, Doc

Reposted from my site:


I think we have something special here, folks. Telltale Games (developers behind  Tales from Monkey Island and  Sam and Max) acquired the license to produce an episodic adventure game based on the classic film trilogy,  Back to the Future. The game was made available yesterday and after completing the first "episode" of the game, I'm hungry for more.  Back to the Future: The Game is fueled by pure nostalgia, but a brand new story (of which Bob Gale was a consultant) and top notch writing make it a fun experience worthy of  BTTF.

BTTF begins with a fantastic call back to the first film, where Marty is documenting Doctor Emmett Brown's experiment with time travel. Presented from the point of view of Marty's video camera, Doc has his dog Einstein enter the DeLorean and synchronizes the stopwatches. Even the most casual fan will tell you that this sequence, from the location to the dialog, is lifted right from the film. When the DeLorean hits 88 MPH, you're given your first opportunity to select a line from a dialog tree. I couldn't help but choose, "Jesus Christ, Doc! You disintegrated Einstein!" but you can pick from three different lines. When Doc's alarm goes off, the duo expects the DeLorean to return...but it doesn't. Marty begins to freak out while Doc flips through his notebook only to come to a shocking revelation. He apologizes to Marty as he begins to disappear from the time stream...

...and it is here that Marty wakes up with a start. Ah, the good old dream sequence! After the "Back to the Future" title card and theme music (boy did that give me chills), the story proper begins: It's 1986 (so, a full year after the events of  Back to the Future Part III) and because Doc has been away, his house has been seized by the bank and everything within it is to be sold to the public. In the interest of keeping anything dangerous out of the wrong hands, Marty visits the house and meets his father, George McFly and a surprisingly emboldened Biff Tannen. After a trip through memory lane, a familiar sound fills Marty's ears and after running outside, Marty is shocked to see the DeLorean from 1985 parked outside the house. Opening up the car, he finds Einstein, a shoe and a small tape recorder with the name "Marty" written on it. Pressing the button, he's surprised to hear the voice of Doc Brown. Turns out, Doc's in a bit of a bind. He's stuck in the year 1931 and needs Marty to rescue him.

I really don't want to spoil things, but the narrative for this episode is really cool. It's got all the staples of  Back to the Future: Marty crossing paths with his own relatives as well as Biff's, exciting chase and action sequences, and the dangers associated with time travel. You can even have Marty give himself one of three fake names (I had him tell people his name was Michael Corelone) and all the NPCs will refer him by the name you choose throughout the episode! It'll be awesome to if this carries through each episode of the series.

Much like  Sam and MaxBTTF is a point and click 3D adventure game that requires the player to solve a number of puzzles in order to progress through the story. Unlike previous Telltale adventures,  BTTF is based towards reality a bit, so the logic puzzles are not as crazy or wacky as Monkey Island . Expect to do things like investigating a soup kitchen, trying to score some bootlegged beer and encouraging a young Emmett Brown to pursue his passion for science. Should you get stuck, there's an in-game hint system to help you out.

You can control Marty using the mouse or keyboard and navigating him through out the environment to interact with characters and objects. I found that getting Marty from place to place was a little clunk and at times unresponsive. Marty's direction is relative to the camera, so there's a lot of sudden shifts and turns with each camera move. Hopefully this will be fixed in later episodes. Chatting it up with people involves selecting from a list of dialog options designed to prod extra information from characters or distract them in order to complete a puzzle. It's simplistic form of adventure gaming with no penalty for failure, so its approachable for any and all types of gamers.

The game has a very cartoonish look to it with most of the characters being caricatures of their real life counterparts. Doc Brown is a little jarring to view at first (they really seemed to focus on Christopher Lloyd's wide, almost buggy eyes from the film), but his look totally grows on you. Marty, on the other hand, is less threatening to the eyes and looks very much like a 1986 Michael J. Fox. The game makes use of Alan Silvestri's score from the film, which helps to nail the  BTTFvibe the title is going for. Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown and although you can hear that he's aged, Lloyd does a fantastic job. Props has to be given to the voice actor who performs Marty McFly, as he is a near perfect sound alike for Michael J. Fox. There are times where he sounds a little too much like the Pimply Faced Teen from The Simpsons, but he's amazingly spot on.

Any  Back to the Future fan should make this game a priority. The story is solid, the script is solid and humorous and the gameplay is fun and accessible. Because this is an episodic game, the first episode is only about one to two hours long, but there's a lot of great stuff filling in that time. There are two really standout moments in the episode, such as Doc Brown's rescue from a police wagon and an incredible tasked-based sequence in young Emmett Brown's lab. 
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    It seems with the recent relaunch of Tron and the Ghostbusters game released last year, there's been sort of a trend of making video game sequels to some well remembered 80's movies. Now Telltale jumps in with another episodic point-and-click adventure set in the universe of the beloved Back to the Future franchise. Set in 1986, a year after the events of the last movie in the trilogy, the DeLorean has long been smashed to pieces by that freight train and Doc's nowhere to be found. To Marty's su...

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