OUTATIME is the fifth and
final episode in the Back to the Future: The Game series. The story
begins with Marty asleep in young Emmett Brown's lab. Later that day,
young Emmett is planning to exhibit an Electrokinetic Levitator at the
1931 Hill Valley Science and Technology Exposition. To do so, he must
sneak out while his father is unawares, set up the exhibit, and avoid the
shapely but pushy Edna Strickland. Emmett asks Marty to bring the (now
fully charged) static accumulator for powering the Levitator -- no easy
task when the device starts to operate in "zoom exuberantly out of
After Marty manages to
get into the Expo building, you can explore the other indoor exhibits --
among them an underwater bathysphere, a Future of Law Enforcement booth,
and a House of Glass.
Since Episode Five begins
shortly after the end of Episode Four, it's important to play the previous
episodes before attempting OUTATIME. (For a review of the first
episode, which contains some story background,
"I wasn't planning on
visiting the 19th century today." Doc Brown, Professional Time Traveler
This episode is roughly
twice as long as each of the previous episodes. It begins in 1931, jumps
back to 1876 and then leaps forward to Hill Valley in 1986 where (and
when) Marty first left to rescue Doc. OUTATIME brings a satisfying
resolution to the game's story, and drives home some of the themes that
have been gradually developing -- including the importance of knowing and
being true to oneself. The final episode is partly an amusing exploration
of the exasperating paternal habit of being either too demanding or too
disengaged. (Does anyone have a father whose style manages to be "just
right?"). The list of plot twists gets even longer, including a "To Be
Continued" message at the end that implies that Back to the Future: The
Game is Season One of an ongoing series.
This game contains many
confrontations, some of them brewing since the early episodes. Most of
these dramatic incidents occur during cut scenes. The cut scenes contain
some interactivity -- dialog choices must often be made at certain points
in most of them. I was swept up into these scenes, with their revelations
of character and surprise appearances, disappearances, reconciliations,
reversals, etc. -- and didn't realize how elaborate they were until I
played through the game a second time.
"You don't know me
like I do." Citizen Brown, Social Scientist
By this fifth episode,
the gamer finally understands Emmett Brown in his various iterations. It's
pleasing to see young Emmett undergo formative changes that lead him to
become the beloved, crazed scientist of the Back to the Future
films. (With potential timestream changes registered at game's end, of
Marty has stepped up into
an even more commanding role in the series -- partly because events in the
game have such a significant effect on Doc. Familiar characters from
previous episodes reprise their roles: Trixie Trotter as Techne, Muse of
Progress (belting out a new song), and Artie McFly, Marty's easily
intimidated grandfather. New characters also appear: Erhardt Brown,
Emmett's judgmental father, and Jacques Douteux, with his fishy French
accent. Marty's great grandfather Willie makes his first appearance.
Willie's character is plain-spoken and gutsy -- not unlike Marty himself.
(Willie is voiced by Michael J. Fox, who played Marty in the Back to
the Future films.) Apparently true grit skipped a couple of
generations in the McFly family.
Voiceovers are uniformly
excellent. This episode is dialog heavy with abundant character
interaction. Close-ups of the characters' expressively animated faces,
along with intriguing camera angles, enliven the conversations. Dialogs
can be clicked through, though you probably won't want to, as they explain
much of what has been going on behind the scenes in the story.
"Is it glowing?" Young Emmett Brown, Science Geek
Graphics are 3D, bright
and appealing. They aren't photorealistic, but they aren't really
cartoon-like either. The environments are varied, and include the Hill
Valley Expo in the high school gym, the California desert at sunset, and
an Old West saloon at night. The final car chase boasts some eye-catching
The orchestral background
music is reminiscent of that in the original film trilogy. It features
variations on themes from the films, including a country music variation
at Edna's cabin. Trixie's peppy tune, "The Future is Coming Today," plays
in the gym, along with individual themes for many of the exhibits. Speed
chases, crashes, and an armed confrontation are accompanied by suspenseful
music and ambient sounds.
"Keep your distance,
fancy pants." Beauregard B. Tannen, Saloon Owner
Now we must pause to look
back over all five episodes and discuss the little matter of (drumroll,
please)... Edna Strickland's wardrobe. This is the first time I've devoted
an entire review section to a character's clothing. Most adventure game
characters wear the same outfit. Forever. Well, forever in the game. If,
ten minutes in, the character is dressed in a white shirt, blue pants and
yellow hat, the chances are extremely good that, fifteen hours later as
the final credits roll, the character will still be dressed in a white
shirt, blue pants and yellow hat.
Not Edna Strickland.
Young Edna's wardrobe is so delectable that, by the fifth episode and for
precisely 0.68 seconds, I actually contemplated becoming Edna Strickland
just to wear her clothes. Her taste, unfortunately, deteriorates with age.
(The pink sweater with the paw prints on it, for instance.)
changes are essential in a game that is set in various time periods.
Still, kudos to whomever designed Edna's wardrobe.
"This is your cue to
skedaddle." Willie McFly, Patriarch
Puzzles in this final
episode are varied. Though you do still use the inventory, most of the
items' uses are obvious, rather than non-intuitive. Challenges include
using or ill-using the Expo exhibits (including a maze in the Glass
House), dialog triggers, memory association puzzles, and positioning items
before initiating a sequence. An endgame car chase requires you to
synchronize three flux devices -- this (as well as the
catch-the-static-accelerator challenge at the beginning) is mildly timed.
The challenges are suitable and clever; in terms of difficulty, they fall
into the "easy to medium" territory. If you are looking for hairpulling
puzzles you won't find one in the final episode. Puzzles that aren't
obstacles bringing the story to a dead stop are actually a positive
contribution here -- the dramatic urgency in many of the scenes is
As in previous episodes,
OUTATIME has three options for navigation: mouse (click-and-drag),
keyboard (WASD or the arrow keys) or a game controller. Either I'm
adjusting to the click-and-drag technique, or it's getting easier to use.
In this final episode, there are so many interactive areas that it's
possible to forego click-and-dragging and move around almost everywhere
just by clicking on hotspots.
I experienced a glitch
that disabled the door handles in the House of Glass. The glitch was
resolved by uninstalling the game (while retaining the saved games) and
Quick List for Back
to the Future: The Game -- OUTATIME
The fifth and final
episode in the series, featuring Emmett Brown -- a man of many names,
times and places -- and Marty McFly -- a brash kid trying to keep everyone
focused and everything sorted. Hill Valley, California, in colorful 3D and
three different time periods. A complex plot, excellent dialog and
voiceovers, multiple confrontations, and a satisfying ending. Close-ups
and facial animations make character interaction unusually engaging. To
understand the story, you should play the previous episodes before this
Inventory and dialog
challenges, setting the scene and then triggering the right hotspot. No
sliders, no sound puzzles, no color based puzzles. One maze. Two of the
challenges are mildly timed. None are in the "dastardly difficult"
category. You can't die.
Third person perspective.
Three options for navigation: mouse (click-and-drag), keyboard (WASD or
the arrow keys) or a game controller. The Options menu provides access to
different graphical and auditory tweaks, plus hint features. Dialogs can
be clicked through; they contain occasional spicy language. Appropriate
for older children and up.
No problems with
installation. One glitch that required uninstalling and reinstalling the
game (previously saved games worked fine after the reinstallation). About
six hours of gameplay.
Aimed at fans of the
Back to the Future films and those looking for a polished game with
memorable characters, comic dialog, and a twisty, satisfying plot.
Final Grade: A-
What I played it on:
Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Core i5-750 processor
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
Back to the Future: The Game can be purchased
via download from
GameBoomers Review Guidelines