Back to the Future: The Game Only Hits 44 MPH

Geek Culture

[A guest review from soon-to-be GeekCollegeKid John:]

Telltale Games has just released the fifth and final episode of their Back to the Future game series. I’ve played through the whole season, and was disappointed that it wasn’t as good as Telltale’s previous games. Kids who are fans of the movie will like the game. It’s simple enough for them to solve without needing help, and it is a fun story.

But for teens and adults, the only redeeming quality is the story, which is excellent but often disrupted by the gameplay. The pacing is slow and the puzzles easy and dull. It’s a shame really; I had hopes for this game when I played the first two episodes. But the rest of the game is not that good.

The series follows Marty McFly as he goes back to the 1930s to rescue Doc Brown from being killed. Marty saves Doc Brown with the help of Brown’s younger self, but changes the timeline to create an Orwellian Hill Valley in 1986 with Doc Brown at the head. Marty has to jump back and forth through time to repair the timeline and get everything back to normal.

I will be honest here, Back to the Future: The Game would be more enjoyable as a fourth movie than a game. The story is very well written, and keeps the tone of the movies, but if felt to me that the puzzles were awkwardly put in. Throughout the season, there are many scenes where the characters stand around waiting for the player (as Marty McFly) to figure out the puzzles to continue. It stopped the tension immediately, and got irritating when it happened repeatedly.

It’s very obvious that the focus was on making a game true to the movies. And it does succeed at that. Marty and Doc Brown don’t feel out of character, and the plot is kept in the same tone as the films. The problem is that it’s not very accessible to anyone who isn’t familiar with the Back to the Future franchise. Many jokes and references rely on having watched the films a few times, and the whole third episode is based on the players knowing what the characters were like in the films.

That being said, there is some enjoyment in just watching the story. It’s fun seeing the characters going through adventures again even if it’s a chore playing the puzzles. I think that the story makes up for the lousy gameplay, but it’s still a hard sell for me.

My final thought on Back to the Future: Get the game if you like the movies and don’t mind going through the puzzles. Not the best game, but it’ll do.

You can get the game at TellTale’s website.

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