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Review: Back to the Future Episode 3 – Citizen Brown

Posted by on June 14th, 2011 | 0 Comments | Tags:

It’s about time we left 1931. Citizen Brown finally places Marty in an altogether unfamiliar location, and sets the player to work in exploring an alternate hill valley, under the crushing regime of one Citizen Brown. No prize for guessing whom that turns out to be. The third episode in the series takes the storyline to new and interesting places, and without spoiling it, sets then stage for a great fourth episode. The writing and voice acting is still top notch, and Christopher Lloyd’s performance in this alternate reality is certainly the best way Telltale could have used the ageing Thespian. Citizen Brown is altogether more tired than the Doc, which almost mirrors Lloyd’s advancing years himself. The rest of the cast fills their roles well, with Claudia Wells’ return as Jennifer Parker proving particularly good. She has just the right level of snarkiness to remain oddly charming, so the player doesn’t completely loathe her alternate reality version.

Of course, the game remains much the same, with the puzzles following what seems to be the traditional Telltale formula of “gain thing X by performing tasks A, B, and C”. However, the puzzles here are entertaining, but still don’t hold a candle to the more extravagant head scratchers found in The Devil’s Playhouse. They’re more grounded in simple common sense, but they’re done with such flair that you can’t help but be impressed by them. A guitar duel proves to be the most interesting example of this, as the player has to figure out how to bring down their opponent in a fairly different context. The puzzles are fun, but I can’t help but hold an inescapable feeling that I’m just going through the motions of a Telltale game. Each one seems to have the same formula, and while the puzzles are fun in their own right, as a whole they fall flat. That isn’t to say they’re poorly designed, but in the “realistic” setting of Back To The Future, it seems the obvious solution is always the simplest one, which, while faithful to the spirit of the films, doesn’t quite lend itself to an Adventure game. The set pieces do a good job of presenting these simple solutions in interesting ways though, so you can be sure that no matter how mundane the solution may be, you’ll have reached it in an amusing way, though that way will often be in a cinematic.

All in all, Citizen Brown works well, and handles the awkward position of a mid season episode better than a lot of Telltale’s seasons have, which is a fairly commendable position to place it in. You won’t be disappointed in the narrative in the slightest; though playing it might sometimes be a tad bland.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

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  • Some audio glitches.
  • Some puzzles feel quite familiar.