Review: Telltale repackage the five episodes of BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE GAME for the PS3 and Wii – and it’s an endearing, if occasionally unambitious, adventure…
Back to the Future: The Game first appeared in episodic format a year and a half or so ago, and now it’s driven itself from the past to the future, arriving as a fully-fledged retail product for both PS3 and Wii. You unsurprisingly play as Marty McFly in a story that takes place after the events of the third film. The Doc is gone, but it’s not long before you’re heading back in time to save him from certain death.
The main focus across all five episodes is the Doc, and how his younger self develops. Past incarnations of Biff and Marty’s family all make an appearance as you’d expect, though, as well as a new character who serves as the main antagonist.
There are peaks and troughs in terms of intrigue as you’d expect from the episodic structure, with the third episode having the most interesting concept – but importantly they all knit together well. Not one part feels like it would work if it was separated from the rest, and although the flow of the game is questionable when you play it in one go (the ending is a particular sticking point). it holds together well enough. With the film’s original screenwriter Bob Gale on board that’s probably not a huge surprise though.
Any cracks there are in the plot are covered up with the admirable voice work and dialogue, with A.J. LoCascio doing an impressive job of stepping into Michael J. Fox’s shoes, and Christopher Lloyd revisiting his most famous on-screen persona with exactly the right level of gusto. This helps to make the game’s constant nudging and referencing to the films come off as affectionate rather than tiring – and that’s some feat.
Freedom isn’t free
Unfortunately, the framerate is occasionally choppy, and the puzzles you’ll be solving are best described as solid, rather than exhilarating. Telltale are a trusty pair of hands when assembling sturdy conundrums, but there are moments where you might hope for a bit more freedom.
There are some great set pieces (even if the point-and-click setup does inevitably sap them of any tension), but the meat of the game restricts you to wandering around small self-contained areas. There’s little wrong with this in itself – many of the puzzles are amusing and fit into the Back to the Future universe perfectly – but there are a few occasions on which you’d hope you could solve a puzzle that spans more than just one or two rooms.
Still, it’s wise to remember that the films didn’t end up being loved for having action on a large scale. It was the characters and cleverness of the plot that made it work – and rather aptly, that’s the case with the game as well.
Back to the Future: The Game is a solid adventure that throws more than enough ideas at you for the low price tag. Shame the puzzles aren’t more interesting.
Back to the Future: The Game, from Telltale and Deep Silver, is out now for PS3 (version tested) and Wii. The original episodic titles are also available for PC and Mac.