librariangmr's Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown (PC) review

It's about to get real

Reposted from my blog:

Hang onto your seats, folks. This one is a doozy.

In last month's episode, Marty and 1986 Doc worked together to bring "Kid" Tannen to justice in order to fix the present timeline which saw Biff Tannen as Hill Valley's mob enforcer. Just as Marty was getting ready to head home, he witnessed 1931 Emmett Brown ask Edna Strickland to see the movie  Frankenstein with him. Seeing the film was a significant moment in young Emmett's life, as it encouraged him to embrace science. However, at the end of the episode, we see Edna lead Emmett away from the theater.

Back in 1986, Marty loses control of the flying DeLorean and crashes into a peculiar billboard for Hill Valley. As he tries to make sense of his predicament, Marty spots his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker (voiced by original Jennifer actress Claudia Wells), picking up trash outside the city. Marty is shocked to discover how different she looks. Instead of the sweet girl who supported his music career, this new version of Jennifer is rebellious, dresses in punk style, has colored hair and a rebellious attitude. Confused by this new Jennifer and the revelation that time has once again been screwed up, Marty climbs out of the time machine just moments before it falls from the elevated billboard and crashes into a ditch. After scaling the large walls surrounding the town, Marty ventures into the square of Hill Valley only to discover that it has been turned into a police state, where the citizens are constantly monitored and those who break the rules are forced into the "Citizen Plus" program created by Citizen Brown.

In terms of narrative, this is the best episode yet. Marty is in serious trouble now because not only has time been changed for the worse, but a damaged time machine means he is stuck in this version of 1986. As a police state, Hill Valley is safe and clean now that Edna and Emmett have imposed their view of morality over the town. Biff is a reformed member of the Citizen Plus program, George McFly spies on the residents in order to root out dissent and Lorraine McFly is a closet alcoholic. But the worst of all is Jennifer, who indirectly reveals that the "Martin" McFly of this timeline is a straight-A student who embodies all of Citizen Brown's ideals.

It was slightly disappointing to see that, once again, the game is mostly confined to Hill Valley's town square. But then again, what else is there to Hill Valley? Not much, except for the town square, high school and outlying housing tracts. Because of this, the town undergoes fairly severe design changes with each era Marty visits. You will have the opportunity to visit Marty's house a few times in order to solve a couple puzzles and interact with the George, however, which can be pretty entertaining. There are some great in -jokes at the house, such as the box of peanut brittle George eats from in  Back to the Future and a collection of game diskettes for  WOPR (War Games) and  Game Grid (TRON).

The episode ends with a troubling twist that I won't spoil (well, not until next month) and I hope Telltale is pretty swift with the release because I'm really invested in this story. Will Marty get back home?  How will Marty get back home? And the most disturbing question of all: is it reasonable to assume that Edna and Doc are the grandparents of Hill Valley High School disciplinarian Gerald Strickland?  SHUDDER.

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