-Obviously a game for fans made by fans with help from the original team and cast
-Amusing dialogue and characters with good voice acting
-Glad to see new scenarios and not just a rehash of the movies’ plots
-Wraps up the story with subtle hints to ties with future episodes in addition to the cliffhanger
-The timeless soundtrack. Of course
-Clunky controls, unstable framerate
-Although expected: Easy and short
Telltale Games has been making a name for itself by taking beloved franchises of different degrees and turning them into episodic point and click adventures. They started off humbly with Sam & Max and then Strong Bad, but are now turning to large movie franchises that have a place firmly in most of our hearts from early childhood.
In addition to the upcoming Jurassic Park games, Telltale has just released episode one of Back to the Future: The Game titled “It’s About Time” on PC, Mac, and PS3. I played it on PS3, and have no point of comparison for the other versions.
Anyway, the game starts with a nod to a classic scene from the original timeless (or timeFULL) movie, but quickly moves on to a fresh plot that takes place after the events from the trilogy. This was a big relief for me. I love the movies, but a retelling with such a different medium would likely not be very successful.
The first thing I noticed after a new plot was the voicework. While I knew that Christopher Lloyd was returning to voice Doc Brown, I was very impressed by the rest of the voice cast who had to imitate the iconic voices from the movie. A.J. Locascio does a fantastic job with Marty, and I was perhaps even more impressed by the work done by Michael X. Sommers who voiced George McFly. It was easy to tell that it was very important to the developers to recreate the treasured atmosphere from the movies.
In that vein, this episode seems particularly set on making the game feel right at home within the franchise cannon. Throwbacks and settings in the opening scenes have enough nostalgia for the entire 5 episode series.
In terms of the new content, the dialogue options are largely plentiful and largely quite funny. It’s worth it to not progress the story – even when you know how to – just to hear all the things the characters have to say.
Beyond that, however, it’s never really a challenge to figure out how to continue. Anyone with a little bit of experience with point and click adventures will have the common sense to know which items to use with what and what to do next. Still, this could be a product of an introductory episode, and it’s not as if the experience wasn’t enjoyable.
In fact, the only time I didn’t enjoy my time with the game was when Marty would start walking in a way I didn’t expect, have weird collision detection, or when the game had some serious framerate hiccoughs. The game looks fine visually, but I can’t imagine it’s taxing enough on the PS3 hardware to justify such lag. But this is a pattern I’ve seen with most Telltale games, so I imagine it’s just a result of some coding not being as tight as it could be.
That being said, the lag isn’t constant, and it’s hardly enough to be a major point against the game.
It’s About Time is a very satisfying Back to the Future game. It’s not about action, but – strangely – neither were the movies, really. It supports itself with wacky characters, memorable dialogue, and ridiculous time-travel scenarios. The point-and-click format can be a little frustrating, but it’s ultimately a great fit for the franchise, and this first episode shows a lot of promise for the next 4. And if Telltale follows in their own footsteps, the episodes will only get better from here.