Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Completed: Back to the Future: The Game

Back to the Future: The Game is an episodic adventure game series by Telltale Games, one of the few companies to actually do episodic game releases successfully.

The series follows the movies, the initial tutorial scene is set about 7 months after Marty gets back at the end of Back to the Future 3, the bank believes Doc is dead and has started to sell off all of his stuff. By the end of that scene, sure enough there is a reason to get into the Delorean and head back in time, to where a significant portion of the timeline is set, 1931. Prohibition era Hill Valley.

I think Telltale games did really well with the art style, they avoided going for a realistic view, the character models are all recognisable, but have exaggerated features and simplified colours and shading. It means that the game is attractive without the system demands being too high, after all this is a game available not just for the PC, but also for the wii, PS3 and iPad.

The voice cast features actors from the films including Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) and Claudia Wells (Jennifer) and even Michael J. Fox, though his voice is used in a cameo role. The VA for Marty McFly, AJ LoCascio, does an admirable job imitating Michael J. Fox's voice from the films. The entire cast did a great job, it has been some time since I have watched the films, but none of their performances jarred with my memories of the films.

The downside of the episodic structure that Telltale uses for these adventure games is that you can see the reuse of mechanical plot and settings. Very few environments are used only once, instead the same locations are used over and over again during the course of the series, with changes to account for time jumps and new people being in charge. Each episode opens with a fairly simple puzzle to get you going then seems to flow into a familiar structure where you have a few different puzzles that can be tackled in parallel before more plot will occur.

Overall though the story fits very well with those of the Back to the Future films, time travel inevitably causing changes not due to intent, but just because being present introduces new elements. Always the goal being trying to fix what went wrong and having the bad guys get their comeuppance. Somehow, after all of the problems Marty faces trying to get back to 1986, the final timeline results in everyone being happier. Oh and of course a Tannen always ends up in manure at some point. It just wouldn't be back to the future without that.

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