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BACK TO THE FUTURE
BACK TO THE FUTURE REVIEW
Date Played Jan 2017

Back To The Future was made in the days before Telltale Games really developed its own unique take on this genre and is more along the lines of a traditional point-and-click adventure. Although based on the film franchise, it's a unique a story that takes place six months after the events of Back to the Future 3. It's not necessary to have seen the movies, but the story opens with the premise that the audience has a certain base knowledge. The game is released in 5 seperately listed and installed episodes, but it's high time they packaged this in a single download. You'll have to individually download, launch, and set your options for each episode.

If you're not familiar with the films, which are a little long in the tooth now, you play as Marty McFly, an animated version of the real-life actor Michael J Fox. The year is 1986 and Marty is a teenager and friend to an elderly eccentric inventor named Doctor Emmet Brown. Doc is obsessed with time travel and having converted a Delorean sports car to a time machine, he sends his dog, Einstein, on a trial run. When the Delorean doesn't return, Doc realizes he has made a serious mathematical miscalculation, changing something in the past that has now affected the present. This causes him to fade out of the current time. Several months later, as the bank is foreclosing on Doc's belongings, the Delorean appears with Einstein and a cryptic message from Doc to Marty on how to use the time machine to locate him. Each episode deals with the results of jumping into different timelines with Doc and Marty trying to find the way back to the correct future.


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Although Back To The Future does what Telltale is good at, developing characters and telling a decent story, this older game is far more puzzle oriented than their later releases. However, you can just begin to see the walking simulator formula that Telltale would eventually adopt for all its future games. But modernizing the old-style adventure genre was to come later and at this point, Telltale was yet to reach it's character-building and story-telling zenith. Back to the Future was in many ways still stuck in the traditional adventure formula.

As I've said often enough, I'm not a fan of traditional point-and-click, but at least Back to the Future utilizes movement keys for walking instead of clicking at the edge of the screen to progress the character. There isn't too much back and forthing either, which is another thing I dislike. Although there is some of this, it's not excruciatingly painful like some adventure games. You do revisit the same areas, but in different time frames, which makes these locations seem fresh as various things change according to the year. Even though all the characters remain, their ages and physical appearances differ according to the points in time. Only Marty remains unchanged as he tries to put things back in the order they should be in. Although Doc is not playable, as the inventor of time travel, he always remains a central part of the story. Doc does the science and Marty works at untangling the mistakes.

Back To The Future does still suffer from some irritating multi-step puzzles that require being triggered through specific actions. There is also the usual fair with adventure games concerning long dialogues. For the most part, the puzzles are not particularly hard, but some pixel hunting can leave you scratching your head at times. Fortunately, if you get stuck, there is a progressive hint system and you won't have to resort to a walkthrough for the answers.

Telltale uses a caricature art style, which some people find appealing, but others do not. It's really a matter of taste. What everyone does agree on is the superb voice acting, especially for Marty's character, which mimics Michael J Fox to a tee. Some critics, however, found the 1930s time line for the story uninspiring and pointed to a disconnect with episode 3, and an end game that leaves on a cliff hanger. There were also complaints about the lip syncing being off. If you're a staunch Back To The Future purist, you'll likely find lots of plot holes and a discordant ending. It's one of the fallouts of basing games on well-known and beloved franchises. People are going to pick holes in plot discrepancies that don't align with the established lore.

I got this game for a song in a Humble Bundle and was pleased enough for the sake of seeing how Telltale games have evolved. Although they have established a fairly good reputation, it's not all a bed of roses and some of their games are more well-received than others. Much of the attraction is that their games are based on other well-known media, which drives up the nostalgia meter for some people. Back to the Future is one of those games. Until The Walking Dead came along, it was the most successful game in Telltale's catalogue.

As old time Adventure games stand, Back To The Future fairs quite well. But with all games, it's a matter of personal taste. Basically, their mechanics irritate me to the point of negating my enjoyment in the story. However, if you like this genre, then you can't go too far wrong with this one but, in my opinion, it's incredibly over-priced at the writing of this. This may be due to its re-release on consoles as a 30yr anniversary edition celebrating the title in its various forms.

Game Issues Experienced
You may experience problems running the game if it is not installed on the same drive as the Steam Client
Development Note
Telltale is largely known for building games around successful franchises in other venues such as films, TV shows, and comics. In 2010, they announced the making of Back to The Future in a deal with Universal Pictures that also allowed them to use likenesses of the original actors Michael J. Fox as Marty and Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown. At the same time, they also announced a game based on the Jurassic Park franchise.

There were three films spanning from 1985 to 1990, but in collaboration with the film's original creator, Bob Gates, the game story is new and occurs in a time frame that takes place after the third movie ends. Once the project was made public, Telltale conducted a survey on its site that asked Back To The Future fans what they would most like to see. Later they admitted that adhering to the films time lines was a great challenge and many ideas had to be scrapped due to conflicts that would have created paradoxes with those stories.

Back to The Future (the game) was released in a 5 episodic formula over a fairly short span of time. Although it received generally positive reception, most reviews were critical of the easy puzzles. On one thing however, they were unanimous, which was praise for the outstanding quality of the voice acting.

After release, Back To The Future became Telltale's most successful game to that point. In Oct of 2015, a 30th anniversary edition was released for Xbox and PlayStation. However, Jurassic Park (the game), released in Nov of 2011, did not fair nearly as well receiving very poor reviews and being cited as a barely interactive movie that was not much fun to play.

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Other games in series:   None
GAME INFORMATION
  • Genre: Graphic Adventure
  • Developer(s): Telltale Games
  • Publisher(s): Telltale Games
  • Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PS3 & 4, Xbox 360 & Xbox One, Other
  • Release: Dec 2010 - June 2011,
  • Mode(s): Single-player
  • Media: Download, Optical Disc
  • DLC Available: No
  • OS: Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7
  • CPU: Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz or equivalent
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Hard Drive: 2 GB free space
  • Video: 256 MB, DirectX 9.0c
  • Sound: DirectX 8.1
  • Shader Model:
  • Input for PC: Keyboard & Mouse
  • DRM: Drm-free or Steam
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Official Modding Tools
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To indicate what kind of performance you may get, compare your specs to the system this game was played on. You can also try  Can You Run It
  • Version: Steam Download
  • OS: Windows 7 SP1
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K; 3.40GHz
  • Ram: 8GB
  • Disk Drive: DVD/CD
  • Video: ATI Radeon HD 7870 2GB
  • Shader Model: 4.1
  • DirectX: 11
  • Input: Keyboard & Mouse
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