Back to the Future: The Game - Episode IV (PC) Review

Author: Dany Argueta
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, May 22nd, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/s/back_to_the_future_ep4/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Back to the Future: The Game is nearing its final episode, and the adventure has been keeping a steady momentum since the beginning. While the latest installment, Double Visions, takes players back to the year 1931 yet again, Telltale Games manages to make this repeat visit a fun one.

Picking up where Citizen Brown left off, Double Visions begins with Marty McFly and Citizen Brown (the “Doc” Brown of this alternate timeline) on the brink of being brainwashed and forcefully integrated into a totalitarian version of Hill Valley in 1981. Marty successfully pulls off an impromptu escape and returns to the year 1931 for a third time with Citizen Brown tagging along.

Unfortunately, the DeLorean isn’t working properly so Marty and Citizen Brown arrive at a moment where they only have a few hours to prevent a young Emmett Brown from going through the events that dramatically change the future. Marty sets off to lead young Emmett into his proper calling as a scientist, though a problem from an unlikely source may jeopardize the whole plan.

Welcome Back to 1931

As with previous episodes, Double Visions challenges players to seek out and use items at appropriate points to solve simple point-and-click puzzles. Telltale managed to make every Back to the Future entry approachable for gamers and fans of the film trilogy alike, so the puzzles -- while very entertaining -- are not terribly difficult. This sounds like the same old song and dance for those who have been keeping up with every episode at this point, but they might notice the puzzles have gotten a tad tougher this time around.  Fortunately, what we end up with is a decent balance: neither too easy nor to difficult.  I can't exactly provide concrete examples without context and delving into the realm of spoilers, but you will, for instance, be confronted with a harder version of the sequence puzzle seen in Episode 1.  For anyone who isn't too fond of challenges, the hints are still there.

Once again, A.J. LoCascio and Christopher Lloyd continue to deliver spot-on performances of Marty McFly and an alternate “Doc” Brown. Back to the Future fans are in for a treat with Double Visions as Lloyd has plenty of screen time and is granted a substantial role, beyond the mere “mentor” character that guides the player seen in early episodes. Lloyd may be on the mellow side here due to taking on the Citizen Brown persona, but having him around more often is a great perk.

Some of you might be rolling your eyes at the fact that Double Visions has you revisiting the year 1931 for a third time, which is understandable since you'd expect repeated visits to get pretty dull. Thing is, 1931 is a critical point in the storyline, so the return trip is expected. Rather than muck about Hill Valley’s town square for a third time, however, Marty gets to visit Emmett’s crowded lab once again and hang around a science expo that’s set to take place at Hill Valley High. These two places may not be as wide open as the town square, but they're actually a great deal livelier. In previous episodes, it was a little creepy to see Hill Valley’s town squares look like a ghost town with traffic and civilians mysteriously absent. This time around, players get a better sense of the place as an actual living, breathing community.

Audio Quality May Vary

Telltale has kept Back to the Future running smoothly since experiencing a few notable performance issues during the first two episodes, but the developer still hasn't quite nailed the discrepancies with voice, sound effects, and music volume. With all sound settings set at their maximum limit, the soundtrack is heard at an unusually low volume and almost drowned out when any character speaks.  Sometimes a few spoken lines come out quietly as well.  At this point, I'm not sure if this is intentional or has something to do with games that were made with the Telltale Tool; Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse and, more recently, Hector: Badge of Carnage had similar issues.

Final Thoughts

Double Visions proves Telltale Games can make retreading familiar territory refreshing and entertaining at the same time. While an old problem with the unbalanced audio persists and the point-and-click gameplay hasn’t changed much since the beginning, Back to the Future continues to uphold its reputation as a worthy follow up to the film trilogy. We eagerly wait to see how Telltale will wrap things up when the final episode, Outatime, arrives in June. 

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