Back to the Future Episode 1: Its About Time! Review


Game: Back to the Future The Game – Episode 1: Its About Time!
Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Point & Click Adventure
Consoles: PS3 (Reviewed), PC, Mac, iPad

I have been a fan of the Back to the Future trilogy since the moment I first saw the original movie.  Classic characters, hilarious situations and a fantastical story made these movies famous.  In addition, they are one of the few movie franchises that had a third movie that actually DIDN’T suck (although the first Back to the Future is still the best.)  Hence, when Telltale announced they were bringing the series to life in video game form, I was ecstatic, albeit skeptical.  Could they bring the series to life?  How could they possibly continue the story?!  Would the space time continuum be wrecked?!?

If you have not seen the movies, I highly suggest you do so.  The game may still make sense, but if you have seen the movies, you will understand the game much better.

Marty McFly is at the Twin Pines Mall, just as Doc is about to send Einstein crackling into the future.  The car revs up, and speeds toward you.  Suddenly, it vanishes.  You then select what you want to say to the Doc.  Now, you may be expecting the car to show up momentarily.  However, it never returns!  And Marty starts to disappear.  GREAT SCOTT!

Suddenly, Marty wakes up, and you find out that he has been dreaming.  Yes, this game is actually set a few months after the events of the third movie.  Doctor Emmett Brown is still gone, and Marty is left with no adventures left to uncover.  Fortunately, about that time, he finds out that an illegal estate sale of the Doc’s stuff is being conducted.  And that is about where you actually start the game.  There are many references to the movies inside the house, and many surprises that will warm your little heart.

However, soon enough, the DeLorean shows up with only Einstein inside.  But, didn’t it get destroyed?!  How come only Einstein is left?  Why is there a smelly shoe in the passenger seat?  Those are the questions.  Only your massive puzzle solving skills can answer them.

I was shocked and overjoyed at how much I liked, or rather, loved the story! Telltale did not try anything too crazy.  The Back to the Future series is admittedly a little zany anyway, but Telltale really respected the franchise and did not try to make it their own. Even the way they handled the DeLorean’s abrupt reappearance was well done. They  continued the story with an amazing story filled with interesting characters, hilarious dialogue and the usual hi-jinks.  Many great homages to the films show up once again, like the Tannen’s odd fascination with manure. 😉

Its About Time is a point and click adventure game.  However, Telltale has gained a reputation for making what may seem like a boring mechanic and turning it into a fun filled, full throttle exploration of an engaging world.

Most of your time though will be spent in the 1930’s version of Hill Valley.  You will get to walk or run around these places, talking to all the characters and trying to solve the challenging, arresting puzzles.  Most puzzle games are very rote.  But this game’s puzzles will take you all over the place.  Sometimes the same objects are used, but usually, there are different pieces that must be completed in a specific order.  For example, on one puzzle you need to see a special newspaper.  But first, you need to find out which newspaper to get, and how to get the old lady out of the room so that you can read the paper without her prying eyes looking at you.  Most of the challenges are not to taxing, especially if you explore every nook and cranny, or talk to all the characters.  If you get stuck though, there is a hint system to help you along, or outright tell you the answer.  The problem I had with the hint system is that it was not nearly as well implemented as the system used Monkey Island.  Instead you had to go a menu screen every time you wanted a hint.

If there is one thing that needs to be changed in the game, that would be the graphics and animations.  Mouths are often way off sync with voices.  The artwork on the characters are blocky and uneven, and that takes you out of the experience.  Some of the backgrounds are unusually bland too, which is a real shame because Hill Valley is an integral part to all the movies.

The game also had a plethora of times where it would freeze.  I was constantly afraid that it would just shut down and lose my progress.  There is absolutely no reason why a system as advanced as the PS3 should have a problem running this rather simple game.  For some reason it did, and that is inexcusable.


Another problem with the game was an awful control system. This game was designed for a computer player, and it definitely shows up in the control system.  To illustrate, I had to go down an L-shaped street.  As you approached the corner, the camera would go wacko, and the analog stick would not allow me to control the person.  When I finally did manage to get him to go the right way, it was a relief.  I thought I had figured out that the way to go down the street was to hold the stick in the UP direction. The next time I approached the corner, I held the stick UP, and Marty turned around in the OPPOSITE direction.  So, every time I hit a corner in the game, I would have to wrestle with the controls. Other camera problems also turned up.  Nevertheless, I suppose that the presentation of the game would have suffered if it weren’t for the 2.5 dimensional set-pieces

Even though the animations are not that great, at least the voice acting is solid.  Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc, and as usual does an awesome job.  The other voice actors do their job pretty well, especially the one who played Marty.  There was only one time where I felt he didn’t sound like Michael J.  Fox. Otherwise, it was spot on.

For $20.00, you will receive access to all 5 chapters in the game.  This first episode lasted about 4.5 hours, and I can not wait for the next one, due out  around the middle of March.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a sublime story with sweet gameplay and only a few faults, give this game a try.  You will not be disappointed.  However, unless you really want easy trophies (I got 85% without even trying) you should go with the easier controls that the Mac & PC counterparts have.  Plus, these consoles will have each episode released a month earlier.    If you only own a Playstation 3 though, you need this game.


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