I'm sure that I'm not alone in saying this, but I truly loved the Back to the Future
series of movies and always hoped that there would be a fourth movie or some continuation. This is not to say that the series wasn't wrapped up conclusively, but the concept just seemed to have limitless untapped potential, not to mention the endearing characters. Other media, like the TV series Quantum Leap
, picked-up on this and did attempt to carry the torch, but nothing could quite match the original. I wish I could say that Back to the Future: The Game
was the much wanted continuation that this series deseved, but it is a bit flawed for me to give it that praise. Nevertheless, it is a good game, and at times, brilliant, and it is worth the time of fans of the movies.
Telltale Games has made their name by resurrecting quite a few popular licenses over the years (and more recently converting the popular titles of other media), and a part of me can't help but see them as opportunistic, wishing that they would develop their own concepts, but even I cannot deny the overall quality of these productions. As much as I want to doubt them, they do seem to have the best intentions at heart with Back to the Future
, bringing back several key members of the cast and even recruiting Bob Gale
as a consultant. Short of bringing back the entire set of players and having Gale and Zemeckis
write the script themselves, longtime fans could not ask for much more. This is about as close to a fourth movie as we will likely get (unless Hollywood decides to a reboot, god forbid)
If you've played other Telltale titles, then you know just what to expect in terms of how it plays. It is easy to digest, and it avoids getting too esoteric with the puzzles, which ensures that it be accessible. It also has the usual Telltale presentation, which I'm not completely sold on here. The game has their usual cartoon aesthetic, which just doesn't seem quite right. I would rather the visuals try for realism, but at least the locations are accurate to their film counterparts. Since the gameplay is fairly basic, here, Back to the Future
relies on the writing, and I have to say it's a bit hit-or-miss. The game spends most of its time set in the early 20th century, and despite being decades earlier, it feels like a retread of the 1950s setting of the first
film. This is pleasant, but not exactly what I had in mind, and I think it goes to show that there is only so much you can do in Hill Valley before the concept starts to dry up. With the flying car, you would think that they could visit other locales, but I guess this was Telltale's attempt to be faithful. Things get more interesting when Marty returns to a dystopian, authoritarian version of the 1980s, and I was positively gripped by the thrilling fifth episode's conclusion, proving that this concept still has a lot to offer.
Given the high points, I would like to give Back to the Future
a stronger recommendation, as its bright spots are nearly on par with the magic of the original trilogy of movies, but the writing just isn't consistent enough for me to praise it unconditionally, and as strictly a game, it can be a bit average. Although I would suggest trying the game if you're a fan of series, I do so with some caution. While I have no reservations about the quality of episodes 3 and 5, the other three episodes are not nearly as sharp and can actually be a bit of a slog. Given my conflicting opinions, I will leave you with this: if you ever wanted more Back to the Future
, you should play this. If you just want a good adventure game and don't care about the license, this will work, but there are better titles out there, including other games by Telltale, and this is far from essential. In brief, this is one for the fans.