Marty and Doc are back, but you are in control of what happens this time. The Back to the Future Trilogy is among my top movies of all time; well, probably just the first movie. I would be ok if the 2nd and 3rd just never happened. The second movie reminded me of the Super Mario Brothers movie, and the third turned into a western. When movie series' have run their course, they always go to the wild west to be…different (BloodRayne, Tremors, etc.). Back to the Future even had an NES game created, if you can call that abomination a game. Thankfully this time, Telltale is in charge of the license, and they surely know how to make great adventure games.
Telltale certainly knows that a majority of the people that buy this game will be devoted fans of the movies and do quite a good fan service at the start of the game. The game opens up with Marty and Doc in the parking lot outside the Hill Valley mall. Sound familiar? It should, as Telltale re-created the opening scene from the original movie to start the game. Players take control of Marty and choose the dialog choices for him. If you have a perfect memory, you can select the same dialog choices as Marty used in the movie. Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doctor Emmett Brown to make it even more authentic. Michael J Fox allowed Telltale to use his likeness but did not record any voice-over work. However, the voice actor they did use has an uncanny resemblance to him that, at times, you forget that that is not Michael J Fox's voice. As a fan of the series, I can't think of a better way to open a Back to the Future game than what Telltale was able to pull off.
The game starts in 1986 with Doc never returning to Hill Valley, at least in the present time period. Instead, Doc travels through time with his wife and two young sons (a must-see gif from the 3rd movie). Due to his long-term absence, his estate is being put up for sale and all his possessions. The only good news, if you can call it good news, is that Marty's dad, George McFly, is in charge of holding the sale. So Marty decides to check it out to see if Doc left anything behind regarding his whereabouts. Unfortunately, Biff is at the estate sale as well, and as usual, he and Marty are butting heads.
When the DeLorean with Einstein inside shows up, Marty has a gut feeling that Doc is in trouble and he will have to travel back to the fut…err past to save him. Though to get back to the present, he will have to travel back to the future from the past, while first traveling to the past from the present and then getting back to the future, which is the present. Does anyone else's head hurt after discussing time travel?
Marty's gut feeling was right, as Doc has found himself in trouble in the 1930s version of Hill Valley. Doc has been arrested on suspicion of burning down a speak-easy and needs Marty's help to free him before it's too late. Unfortunately, being stuck in jail isn't the problem, as a local paper shows that Doc will be killed by Kid Tannen, Biff's 1930s gangster relative.
The game plays a lot like previous TellTale point and click adventure titles. Players can walk around freely and interact with particular objects and characters throughout the environment. A prompt will display on the screen when something or someone can be interacted with—talking to these characters while choosing different dialog choices. Selecting the correct option will move the conversation forward, but if you are like me, you will choose the choices that reveal information pertaining to the story first. This information helps flesh out the story and helps to provide needed direction at times.
The game includes a variable level hint system that allows gamers of all experience levels to enjoy the game. Having it turned on to the maximum setting precisely defines what needs to be done next. Turning it entirely off sometimes left me scratching my head on what to do next, but I do enjoy the classic adventure game feel.
This first episode was initially released on PC and later ported over to the PS3 a couple of months later. Episode 2 was released on PC before Episode 1 was released on the PS3. The frame rate seems to be a hit-and-miss, as when there is a lot of action on screen, the frame rate takes a hit. The fixed camera perspective does cause a slight annoyance on occasion when switching to the next screen; Marty will start walking in the opposite direction than what is desired. This usually only occurs when the current direction is held when the screen switches to the new perspective.
Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1 can be beaten in a single afternoon, but it is well worth the price of admission as the $19.99 price tag covers all five episodes.Note: Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1 was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A digital copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.