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PC/Mac Game Review: Back to the Future – The Game: Episode 3

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Marty McFly is back… again.  Telltale Games has released the third episode in their Back to the Future: The Game series and this time we find poor Marty back in 1985, but a (different) alternate 1986.  As with the other entries in this episodic franchise, it is a fun, but at times stilted, experience.

We have to assume that if you’re reading this review you fall into one of three larger categories:  lover or at least exceedingly quizzical about all things BTTF, hater (but potentially still quizzical) about all things BTTF, or that you’re simply waiting to see if Telltale delivers a decent experience over the course of the season before you buy the game.  Perhaps we should draw a Venn Diagram with these three categories, because you may very well find yourself in more than one of the above groups.  That being said, this article will mostly focus on the third of the larger groups because there’s probably no talking to anyone in the first two.

As you would expect—let’s face it, Telltale would be insane to change things at this point—the game remains in their traditional puzzle format.  Essentially, you go around, grab every object that you can, and talk to people in order to learn how you should go about using all those objects that you’ve grabbed. 

The beauty of this is in its simplicity.  As there’s little alteration in the format from their other titles, Telltale can spend their time crafting an in-depth fun story and interesting puzzles rather than having to reinvent the wheel every time.

Of course, that’s the problem too, at times the game feels overly simplistic and unable to cope with you, as the player, wanting to do anything that the game doesn’t want you to do.  One more than one occasion during this episode you’ll go about trying to solve the current problem in a way that seems perfectly logical to you, but that isn’t the way the game wants you to solve it and you will, therefore, fail. 

The best example of this we have from the current episode is a moment when you, as Marty, are trying to find Einstein who happens to be hiding.  You have in your possession a truly disgusting edible treat that the pooch likes and know that he’s hiding in one of three locations.  Your logic may dictate that you hold out the treat and move around to the possible spots, figuring that you’ll entice the dog out.  Your logic would in no way be flawed except for one tiny problem – that’s not the way Telltale wants you to find the dog and so Marty will refuse to execute what you’re telling him to do.

 As for the story that takes place within this alternate 1986?  Yeah, we’re not going to tell you a lot about that.  Look again at our assumption above – we figure that if you’re reading this review you’re waiting to buy the whole game and just about everything that happens here in this alternate 1986 is an outgrowth of the first two episodes.  If we told you that Doc… excuse us, Citizen Brown was running an alternate Hill Valley and that it had a lot to do with Edna Strickland, Kid Tannen, and a rocket powered drill it wouldn’t mean all that much… unless you know who Edna Strickland and Kid Tannen are and what went down with the rocket powered drill. And, you won’t know about those things unless you’ve played at least one of the first two episodes, and if you have, you probably don’t need us to tell you what this game’s all about, because it’s like the first two except that the plot has progressed.

We wouldn’t suggest that Back to the Future – The Game: Episode 3 is perfect, you will find yourself frustrated by some of its shortcomings.  That being said, the plot that Telltale has constructed with the series is a fun one, and the problems that Marty has to fix are amusing.  The graphics aren’t knock-your-socks-off outstanding but pleasing enough and the voice talent does a good job.

We still definitely recommend that all fans of the film trilogy and/or Telltale’s usual brand of wacky puzzle fun check it out.

Back to the Future: The Game – Episode 3 is rated RP (Rating Pending) by the ESRB but other episodes have been rated T (Teen).

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.