RELEASE: 02/2011 | PLATFORM: PS3 | DEV: Telltale Games | ESRB: T for Teen
It’s exciting to see when developers like Telltale Games play bring their unique take to some fun franchise licences. Their point-and-click style, adventure games remind me a lot of the Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read, in which, players are presented with a decision and that decision decides the next direction the narrative will take. The story-focused game style adapts well to established books and movies. Previously, Telltale Games has adapted a Jurassic Park story set within the parameters of that movie. This game, based on the classic 80’s film Back to the Future is sure to be a hit with movie fans, just maybe not all gamers.
The Back to the Future The Game was originally sold in episodes, which can now be purchased bundled together. Low priced episodic games have become Telltale’s calling card. This game is quite affordable at $3-5 for a hour or two of gameplay in each episode. There are five in all, sequential, adding to a larger narrative arc. For all you continuity sticklers, this game takes place during the beginning of the first movie. Huh? You’ll have to play to see what I mean but all the main BttF characters are accountable like Doc Brown, Einstein (the dog), and Biff. You’ll play as Marty (duh) the time traveling, rebellious youth. Time to pack up the Delorean, you’ll be making quite a few stops in Hill Valley, California present, past and zanny alternate versions.
The graphics are straight out of a story book, cartoonish, in the highly stylized/b-boy fashion that is ever so popular. They are cutesy yet they appeal to a younger, more innocent side of myself. The character’s features are modeled after their movie counterparts; almost as if the actors sat for caricature drawing of themselves. Sadly, this is no Pixar work of animation, in fact the animation looks quite dated when compared to the standards of today’s major game releases.
Gameplay is varied between navigating a 3D area and NPC character questioning. The game maps are generally small and are littered with clues and interactive objects. “Clicking” on these clues and other highlighted items result in some interaction, either taking an object, investigation or questioning a person. Throughout the game, Marty will be tasked with puzzles to solve to meet his goals; such as throwing Einstein a stick to distract a crowd or finding some alcohol to use as fuel. Slow moving, single solution problems with little or no consequences. The majority of these puzzles are right on the nose and easy to solve; some however, require a clue. Clues are readily available and will help highlight the required action you need to take.
Repeat: This is not an action game! Adventure games such as this are focused more on puzzles rather than any physical challenges. What little 3D navigation you do have is quirky and will have you spinning the analog stick all over the place. Brace yourself for some long scenes in-between puzzles.
Where this game falls short in gameplay, it makes up for in charm. Bob Gale, the screenwriter of the Back to the Future movie trilogy penned the story for the game. His attention to detail and love of the franchise is obvious. I see these point-and-click style games as the future of children's books. This is the kind of game I would expect to find on the iPad. It could very well be the developer’s plan to build games that could be easily ported to a touch screen. All things considered, Back to the Future The Game is fun; but for a major console release, even as an inexpensive downloadable title, it falls pretty short.
Looking forward to Telltale Games other properties, The Walking Dead and Fables.