Tales of Monkey Island before it, this review looks at the
five-part series as a whole, rather than episode by episode. GameBoomers
reviewed each episode of Back to the Future: The Game as it came
out, and you can read those if you want to know about the plot or the
intricacies of each component. What you get here is the impression that it
made on someone who didn’t play any of the episodes when they first
released, but played it through recently from go to whoa.
Tales of Monkey Island, which I played on DVD, I downloaded this from
Steam. I had no trouble with its operation, and while I could access any
episode I wanted whether I had finished the earlier ones or not, I am not
sure why you would want to. It is very much a single story, so if you are
going to play them all you would be well advised to start at the start.
My overall impression was that
this was adventure-lite. I read somewhere that it was aimed more at casual
gamers and fans of the movie, and it felt like that. Puzzling was less
than puzzling, rarely offering anything more than a hiccup rather than a
challenge, which made it more like an interactive story than an adventure
game. That is not to say there aren’t things to do, just that propelling
the narrative seemed the primary consideration.
The movie links were enhanced not
only by the environments and the accoutrements being straight out of the
big screen trilogy, but by Christopher Lloyd voicing Doc and by an
exceptional Michael J. Fox impersonation from AJ LoCascio. The plot picks
up after Back to the Future Part III, and further ties into the
BTTF world. You don’t need to have seen the movies (although you will
likely miss some of the in-jokes and references), but no doubt if you are
thinking of playing the games you will have done so. A fan of the movies
has a definite leg up.
I did think that the lite-ness was
more or less an issue depending upon what the story was doing. It's witty
and well written, but it did seem to lag in places. When it did, the fact
that there was not much in the way of gaming was obvious. I don’t like
casual games, so you can factor that into my impression, but all in all
this was a peaks and troughs kind of thing.
I do think that the experience was
enhanced by not having to play it episodically. I suspect that, had I
played an episode that I found limited in its engagement factor, I might
not have continued to the next one. I find that a lot with TV series, and
much prefer watching them once they are all available, so that low points
can be immediately moved on from by watching another episode. Of course,
that doesn’t work if none are any good!, which is not the case here.
When it hits a peak, Back to
the Future: The Game sparkles with those things that made the movies
hum – the characters, the repartee, the time travelling paradoxes and the
way it conveys a matter-of-factness about the unreal goings-on. Troughs
however accentuate the lack of game play, and exacerbate the silliness of
what is happening. There were less of the latter than the former, but they
Doc and Marty stand out, and drive
the whole thing as you would expect. Some new characters are introduced,
some with links to the past, and some other old-timers are present as
well. Einstein (the dog not the person) is present, and has a pivotal role
in getting things going. He admirably serves the ‘dogs should feature more
in adventure games’ cause.
An in-game hint system will ensure
you are never stuck (in keeping with the focus on the narrative), and you
can choose to have objectives revealed as Marty discovers them or not.
Game play is simple and straightforward, and you have numerous ways to get
around the environment. I never warmed to the click and drag, preferring
to use the keyboard, but clicking on hotspots was sufficient in many
Back to the Future: The Game
isn’t terribly long and, in the end, I reckon this is a really a game for
fans of the movie. I don’t think it contains enough “oomph” for hardcore
adventurers, but it pays homage to its movie roots, knows what makes the
franchise work, and targets those things. If all things Marty McFly are
your things, check it out.
Back to the Future: The Game
can be purchased at the
Telltale Games website.