Mon 5 Sep 2011
So, I have come to the end of my Back to the Future adventure at last. A little behind schedule but not outatime. I have been disappointed, and then drawn back in by Telltale’s latest periodic more times than I can count; but has the fifth instalment succeeded in ending my experience and leaving a smile on my face? Read on to find out.
The story so far: Marty has travelled back in time to help his old friend Doc Brown escape from prison in 1931. Predictably, Marty’s messing around in the past sets in motion a series of events that change the future for the worst – but this time, it’s Doc’s future! It is a great set up, and the season has done a great job with Doc’s past and alternate future, introducing some brilliant new characters and producing thoughtful and deep character arcs worthy of the Back to the Future canon. But it’s not the story that’s been bothering people over the months the game’s been filtered out; it been the gameplay.
You see, Back to the Future: the Game suffers from being the game Telltale chose it to be; a cookie-cutter adventure born completely out of the typical Telltale mould. The puzzles, the meat that makes up much of the game, are for the most part unimaginative. And I don’t mean they are easy and aimed at casual gamers – because that’s fine. I mean they are so boring I’m struggling to remember one as an example. To Telltale’s credit, they did include plenty of “cinematic puzzles” – the puzzles I always liked best from Sam & Max – where the player is in a cutscene and has to advance it by solving a puzzle. These tend to be self-contained, logical and fun – but really they are just interactive cinema and often repetitive; there was a “car puzzle”, a “mechanics puzzle” and a “conversation puzzle” in almost every episode, for example.
“Cinema” was the impression I was left with after playing Outtime. The episode was certainty the most cinematic of the lot, with great dialogue, set pieces and the most exciting story. Besides the episode starting off far too slow, I can’t say many bad things about the pace, either. Once you team up again with “proper Doc”, it starts getting really fun and transports you through an adventure across times and alternate realities like a Back to the Future game should.
The issues were the same as the whole season: patches of paceless plodding around in unpopulated and sterile-looking environments, wishing you were back in a cinematic; a click-everything-until-it’s-solved puzzle or two; lip-synching that’s just plain odd… there were just fewer of them this time around.
I set up the test at the beginning of this review of whether Outatime left me with a smile on my face. It did. In fact, when Back in Time started playing and the credits began to roll I had a giant grin on my face! If you’re prepared to sit back, blast through the puzzles with the hints on and enjoy the cinematics, Back to the Future: the Game is a fun experience in the spirit of the my favourite 80s movies and a worthy addition to Marty and Doc Brown’s story.
Mark’s score for Outatime: 4 of 5 starks
for Back to the Future: The Game: 3 of 5 starks
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