Review: Back to the Future Episode 1 – It’s About Time
Telltale appears to have episodic gaming down to a fine science. With episode 1, you set the scene, and attempt to draw the player in with a mixture of fun, approachable gameplay, along with the appearance of a clever storyline. Back to the Future Episode 1 does exactly that, but I can’t help but feel like there was so much more it could have done with regards to elements like puzzle design and general polish.
Players of course take control of Marty McFly, the hero of the Back to the Future series, with the game set 6 months after the events of the third film. Doc Brown has been missing for a while, with Marty feeling understandably anxious. Suffice to say, the signature Delorean turns up, and Marty sets out to rescue Doc. To say any more would be to spoil some of the cooler aspects of the game’s story in this first part, but as a fan of the film series, I wasn’t disappointed by the character development in the first episode. I’m certainly looking forward to where future episodes take these characters. The game feels like the work of people who truly love the license they’ve been granted, and the attention to detail is staggering at points. The interior of the Delorean in particular serves as a highlight, along with Doc Brown’s lab. The amount of effort poured into every aspect of the game’s world is extremely impressive, and there are a few little Easter eggs to discover as well.
As is the norm with any and all Telltale games, the voice work and script are both stellar, with Christopher Lloyd’s crazed tones sounding as wonderful as ever. The real surprise here is of course AJ LoCascio, who provides the voice of Marty McFly. Playing this game in front of my housemates, I was met with astounded stares when I explained that this wasn’t Michael J Fox’s voice. AJ does a simply astounding job, and I couldn’t be happier with his voice work here. The rest of the cast fills the game out nicely. The voice of George McFly sounds relatively good, as does the voice of Biff, although the lack of Tom Wilson’s signature unhinged delivery is somewhat noticeable at points, especially when Biff’s signature line is delivered.
However, Back to the Future feels somewhat like a step backwards in terms of Telltale’s typical puzzle design. There aren’t any ludicrous items to combine, and there are no puzzles in the game that stand out as ingeniously designed. This feels like a byproduct of the wider reach of the Back to the Future license, which is fair in terms of Telltale wanting to find a greater audience with such a widely recognized property, but it nonetheless feels disappointing. Episode 1 does feature a couple of amusing moments of puzzle design, such as a ‘Simon says style’ scenario, and the set piece that ends the episode is wonderfully designed, if simple in execution. Also, there a couple of odd visual glitches, such as Marty’s walk jittering, and visual prompts remaining on screen during cinematics. While they were in no way game breaking, they were slightly odd to witness. Also, I encountered a rather strange instance where the on foot controls for Marty would invert when changing camera angles. Again, only a minor inconvenience in the wider scheme of things.
Back to the Future Episode 1 does a sterling job of setting the scene for what is likely to be another grand adventure for Marty McFly and Doc Brown. While I would have preferred it if the game’s puzzles were a tad trickier, the rest of the package remains entirely wonderful. If you’re a fan of the films, I can’t imagine you’d be disappointed here.
For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Great writing and voice acting
- Solid console control scheme
- Bright, cartoony visual style
What I Dislike:
- Puzzles feel a tad too simple
- Awkward visual quirks
- Slight control issues