The classic sci-fi series ‘Back To The Future’ has already immortalised itself as the hallmark of time travel genre film since its inception in 1985. Now almost twenty years since the last film comes the downloadable episodic point and click adventure Back To The Future: The Game starting with episode one – “It’s About Time”. The team from Telltale Games have handled this game with immense love and care under the guidance of Bob Gale who co-created, co-wrote and co-produced all three ‘Back To The Future’ films.
This is perhaps why the greatest part about the game is its story. An extension to ‘Back To The Future’ story is a major drawcard here even for casual players and diehard fans alike, and it certainly does not disappoint. As the game is episodic, its plot expands over five episodes in TV-like fashion, which suits the nature of this game. Episode one takes place six months after the events of the last movie, Marty McFly is trying to lead a normal life without his best friend Doc Brown who has disappeared through time and space leaving his property unattended in 1985 and is now up for foreclosure by the bank.
Meanwhile, the DeLorean time machine mysteriously reappears from the future (or from the past…) with a grave message from Doc himself, and it’s up to Marty to save day once again. Told through cutscenes and dialogue options the story is great from the opening scene, a nice throw back to a memorable moment from the first film up until the game’s conclusion, leaving a cliff hanger can’t-wait-for-the-next-one feeling.
Back To The Future: The Game is a standard point and click adventure. Nothing really new here but a well thought out and polished one at that, coming from one of the industry’s best, Telltale Games. Players control Marty McFly through Hill Valley solving the task at hand, ranging from finding certain characters and items to puzzle solving. Point and click adventures in general tends to go down the “trial and error” path, to an extent this is seen in Back To The Future: The Game. The gameplay is at its best when players know exactly where and what to do at a fast pace. And not to give too much away the game’s ending achieves this well, to a certain degree.
However, the flip side of this is that gameplay can become very frustrating when players get stuck and have to gone through the same dialogue tree for the 8th time or clicked just about everywhere to find a object to progress the story. There is a helpful hint button you can press at anytime if you’re really stuck like I was at one point. But it does feel a bit like cheating and I recommend that it is best to be avoided as an immense feeling of satisfaction is gained once completing a puzzle and finding out what to do next. There are a few technical glitches and bugs in the game which I unknowingly stumbled across. One in particular about halfway in, was pretty major causing a cutscene to play early by mistake meaning that future progress was impossible, causing me to restart the level. Aside from this, gameplay overall is quite smooth just with a few problems here and there.
At first glance, the character models may look a bit goofy but by the end of it you’ll come to love to the stylized cartoony visuals. Even on the lowest graphic settings, the game looks great. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the original actors in the film series should be thanked for their contribution to the game. Both their likeness and phenomenal voice acting by Lloyd is very convincingly used in game especially since a sound-alike was used for Marty McFly, AJ LoCascio provides a superb performance fitting in to his character. Voice acting alongside the fitting stylized cartoony visuals adds to the overall unique feel of the game. This is made all the more better when the theme music kicks in, oh the nostalgia! Instantly bring back the magic and charm which made the movies so memorable. Audio cues are spot on, in line with the action and pacing of the game.
Perhaps not exactly what the diehard fans were expecting (a fourth film is still rumoured), Back To The Future: The Game is a pleasant surprise, an excellent instalment and an extension of the franchise. Episode 1 “It’s About Time” lasts about 2-3 hours long and it is the Back To The Future fix many fans were looking for. It is a great point and click adventure game for casual gamers and fans alike. The story is definitely a strong point and it will be interesting to see how it will develops over the next four episodes. Whilst gameplay can be fantastic and frustrating at points, great use of licensing within the game goes along way in conveys not only the great moments from film series but also instantly captures what made them so great. Only a few technique bugs and glitches subdue the overall experience, but nonetheless Back To The Future: The Game is great fun. I’m sure many players are keen for the next instalment available February 2011.
I give Back To The Future: The Game Episode 1 “It’s About Time” for the PC: