Today we're talking about Back to the Future: Ep 1 - It's About Time from Telltale Games, makers of The Walking Dead games. I have to preface this by saying I have never seen Back to the Future, the movie (I know, right?). All I really know is that you drive a Delorean sort of fast and time travel and 1.21 gigawatts or something. There's also a coffee shop here in Chicago that has a Delorean in it. Yeah... that's about all I know about Back to the Future, and not knowing about the movie is what hurts this game the most.
The game starts off with extremely heavy exposition, characters doing the classic talk-about-everything-they-are-doing even though no one talks like that, and after all of that I still don't know what's going on. All of this is delivered with voice acting that's difficult to understand at times, and mediocre at best, otherwise.
After this introduction we're eventually dropped into the Doc's lab. His belongings are being sold off because he went missing months ago when he went time traveling with the Delorean blablabla. So we arrive at his lab, gain control of Marty, and are given our first objective: "search Doc's lab for something dangerous."
1. Why do I want to find something dangerous?
2. What qualifies something as dangerous? Pretty much anything can be dangerous.
So at this point I don't know who any of the characters are, I don't know what's happening in the story, and I don't know why I'm being asked to do something or how I should do it. The best part is that the thing you end up finding to advance the game – a notebook – is pretty much the last thing you'd think of when trying to find something dangerous.
The camera shifts awkwardly between sections of Doc's lab as you click on every object to find anything that seems to make a meaningful advance in the game's state. The characters are saying things, but I don't care about anyone. Not the Doc who I was blabbed at for a minute before he disappeared, not Marty (who I'm playing as) who acts the classic Adults-Just-Won't-Believe-Me Character, and especially not Biff, a character who seems to have slammed at least four beers in front of my character while attempting to act cutely obnoxious while all signs point to him being a raging alcoholic, a fact Marty's dad, the last of the four thoroughly unlikable/unknowable characters, seems to brush off and treats Biff as if he were just Marty's older, more annoying, brother instead of a crazed sociopath.
The first puzzle required less bullshit adventure-game-logic than it did determined click-on-everything-and-something-has-to-work logic. The second puzzle was a different story and it took me two in-game hints to solve it, the second of which essentially said "here's how you solve it, dummy." Spoilers: you have to give a shoe to a dog to advance to the next area because apparently all dogs, when they smell a shoe, run off to the location that the shoe came from because all dogs have a sense of smell that precise and do that all the time. Anyways, I got to the next area but luckily my half hour had expired and I was "outa time".
Maybe this game is fun if you love the movie, already have background on the characters/story, and therefore have a reason to care. But I suppose someone who has never seen the movie probably would never pick up this game in the first place (thanks, Humble Bundle) so I guess it's sort of my fault.
Join me on Thursday as I play at least half an hour of Beyond Good & Evil.
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