Back to the Future: Episode 1 Review

After other excellent games that Telltale have worked on (e.g. Tales of Monkey Island) their announcement of working on the Back to the Future series caused me no worries. These guys are adventure game veterans so if they were going to make a successful adventure game based on a movie franchise, they have the best chance of doing so. Incorporating two of my favourite things (adventure games and Back to the Future) compelled me to try out the series, and so here is the review of the first episode, "It's About Time!"

Sound (4/5)
One awesome aspect of the game is how they've added all the authentic sounds from the series like the Delorean engine and rocket noises. They even managed to get Christopher Lloyd to reprise his role as Doc. For the voice acting of Marty McFly, they recruited someone who was able to emulate his voice very closely called AJ LoCascio, Although I was a bit disappointed that Michael J. Fox couldn't reprise his role (as unlikely as it would be due to his Parkinson's), I must concede that AJ LoCascio does a really good job of emulating him. Other in-house voice actors at Telltale were used for all other characters and they do pretty good jobs too.

The only issue I had playing this game was that the sound tends to stutter occasionally.

Music (5/5)
The Back to the Future theme and several other samples from Alan Silvestri's original Back to the Future soundtrack are present in the game which makes the game feel more authentic as a continuation of the Back to the Future series. Even "Back In Time" by Huey Lewis and the News makes a brief cameo. When samples from the movies aren't used, Jared Emerson-Johnson does a great job of incorporating similar themes in the music he has composed for the game.

Graphics (3/5)
Some may not like the art direction Telltale has taken with this game, giving the characters and backgrounds a cartoon feel which is not much different to their previous efforts. What is different though is that a lot of effort was taken in making the main characters look as similar as possible to Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, and they do look pretty convincing. Everything else however looks rather bland when compared to the protagonists and their time machine. There just doesn't seem to be as much detail or use of high-res textures.

Plot (4/5)
The game is meant to be a continuation of the movies, being set 6 months after Back to the Future III. Marty is missing Doc and due to Doc's absence, the City Council has decided to sell his estate to make way for a parking garage. However, the DeLorean returns to 1986 with only Einstein (the dog of course) as its passenger. The DeLorean only returns in emergencies so obviously Doc is in trouble and Marty needs to help him out. This is how the adventure begins.

The game has some excellent storywriting which you'd expect as they've used the one of the original co-writers from the movies (Bob Gale) but it doesn't get a perfect score since the game is probably not much fun if you haven't seen to the Back to the Future films (but then again, who hasn't?).

Gameplay (3/5)
Most of the enjoyment in this game is derived from its excellent plot. However, by making a game with an awesome storyline usually means you have to limiting the player's options. This was the problem with early games touted as "interactive movies". The animation was fantastic, but the player was mostly just along for the ride. This game isn't as bad as those early "interactive movies" but the puzzles are definitely not as challenging as Golden Age adventure games or even some of the previous ones Telltale have made (however, some may prefer the more logical puzzles instead of abstract, leftfield ones).

Replayability (3/5)
The game has average replayability as you'd expect for any game in the adventure genre.

Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished, which is pretty common for Telltale Games however I never liked the mixture of keyboard and mouse in order to control your character (you can blame consoles for this). I miss the days of traditional point 'n' click adventures...

Overall - 8/10
An entertaining adventure game that only Back to the Future fans would truly appreciate.

If you want to get the game, you can now get all 5 episodes for $25 at Telltale Games.