Back to the Future: The Telltale Game – Archived review

I just finished playing the five-part “Back to the Future” game from Telltale.

This a simple adventure game along the lines of “Monkey Island.” You interact with environment with movement keys and mouse clicks, you pick up items and put them in your inventory, you interact with other characters via dialog trees. You can’t really “lose” the game, since it comes with a hint system; I had to resort to it a few times when the available actions weren’t obvious.

You play Marty McFly, voiced by Michael-J-Fox sound-a-like AJ LoCascio. Christopher Lloyd returns as the voice of Doc Brown. The chief antagonists in the story are various ancestors/flavors of the Tannen family and a new character for the game: Edna Strickland. Michael J Fox returns in the fifth chapter for some voice work; it’s not hard to figure out whom he voices, but to say which would definitely be a spoiler.

The plot over the stretch of the five games is incredibly convoluted; even within a single game the time-traveling multiple-timeline twists are more involved than the second “Back to the Future” film. Bob Gale, who wrote the original films along with Robert Zemeckis, was the story consultant for this series, so it’s as “canonical” as any BTTF sequel was likely to be.

So: simplistic gameplay and byzantine plot. But the main reason to play the game are the call-backs and riffs on the original film series. If you’re a fan of those three films (as I am), the nostalgia factor is enough to justify playing the games. I could complete each installment in about 3-4 hours, so it’s not a significant time investment.

The game is not without technical flaws. I encountered most of those in the fifth installment, played on the Mac: poor audio synch with the video, sound problems (effects drowning out dialog), and one puzzle showed an item in one location when it was in another.

This is a long review for a minor game, so here’s the TLDR version: If you’re a fan of the movies, play it. If you’re picky about gameplay and plot and don’t give a damn about flux capacitors, give it a miss.

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