I’ve just finished Episode 1 of Back to the Future: The Game, a 5-part point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games of Walking Dead fame. (I estimate Episode 1 is around 3-4 hours long, which suggests that the entire series is 15-20 hours.) Rather than overlapping or rehashing the Back to the Future movies, the game is an original story that “begins” sometime after the end of the trilogy. It is very much a traditional adventure game, in which players control Marty McFly as he solves puzzles, uses items on the environment, and makes wry observations on his situation; if there are any elements of action or reflexes in BttF, I haven’t seen them yet. So far, I very much like it for two reasons: it succeeds both as an adventure game and as a homage to the movies.
As an adventure game, Episode 1 of BttF has the genre’s traditional strengths: it’s witty to the point of being laugh-out-funny, and solving puzzles makes me feel like a genius. The puzzles themselves are sensible and well-designed – no cat-hair moustache here! – and one, in particular, is amongst the best puzzles I can remember in an adventure game; while not challenging, it’s unique, hilarious, and perfectly fits the characters’ situation (1). Production values are a mixed bag; I do not find BttF’s graphics very attractive; but its excellent voice acting makes up for it.
As a homage to the movies, Episode 1 works equally well. The voices, as noted above, help; Christopher Lloyd reprises his role as Doc Brown, and AJ Locascio does a great job as Marty. But the writing is key, and I wish I could spoil it for you! As is, all I can say is that Episode 1 strikes the right balance between familiarity (“hey, cool, this is just like the movies!”) and originality; while it recycles the movies’ formula, the juicy details are all its own.
Overall, if you enjoyed the Back to the Future movies and you are a fan of adventure games, you should definitely check out Episode 1 of Back to the Future: The Game. While I can’t vouch for the quality of the other episodes, I do look forward to trying them out.
(1) For those of you who’ve played the game: “You’re treating me like a BACTERIA!”