Review: Back to the Future: Episode 5

After the fourth episode of Back to the Future not living up to our expectations, nor matching the quality of the previous instalments, does the fifth, final episode live up to expectations and return the series to the glory of the first three episodes? Or is it even more of the repetitive gameplay and confusing puzzles that we encountered in Episode 4?

Well, the truth is that it’s much better than the previous episode, but still a bit of a mixed bag; the story begins once again in Telltale’s favourite time period – 1931. The alternate Doc Brown, Citizen Brown, is trying to stop Emmet Brown, the younger version of himself, from getting into science as he believes his timeline is the true way that time should progress. So, it’s up to you to put time back on track once again and find Emmet so he may present his invention at the science fair and start his scientific life before you’re outatime.

[boxout]The science fair, at least, provides a different area to the usual Hill Valley centre, although it is a very limited area. The many inventions littered around the hall are quite enjoyable: the ‘House of the Future’ attraction has some charm to it, whilst the ‘Glass House’ acts as a puzzle, a maze of sorts, in which you must push the doors around to get to the exit. This is a fun puzzle and it isn’t too confusing, so it’s much better than the previous instalment in that respect.

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The gameplay is once again mostly solid, although the control problems still arise now and then and I encountered a major glitch featuring the Glass House I mentioned, in which I flew through the roof and got stuck. It seems to involve you more than Episode 4, with less of the action being in cutscenes and more involving in some good gameplay sections. It still doesn’t feel quite as good as it could, though; the pace is often slow, the game drags at some points (as much as it can for a two-hour long episode) and a lot more could have been done.

The build up works well, however – there’s a lot of small puzzles and quests which lead up to the halfway point, in which things take an interesting turn and you’ll have to travel through time to fix it. Unfortunately, you’ll only get to explore two or three other, very limited, areas up until the end of the game, which leaves a lot to be desired for a ‘finale’ to the series; up until the last section, it doesn’t quite feel enough like a finale should.

[drop2]The story itself is rather charming. Where the gameplay and setting fail to make an impact like a finale should, the plot succeeds. You get to meet all of the characters you’ve seen before, who are all backed up with outstanding voice acting, and even some new ones – including a voice cameo from the original Marty McFly actor himself, Michael J. Fox. It’s fantastic to hear his voice associated with Back to the Future again, and his character provides a good, unexpected link to the movies that all fans will love.

The humour and writing is once again back on top; there’s one reference to modern games consoles which is hilarious, and other jokes and bits of dialogue which will leave you with a smile on your face. Perhaps it’s because Episode 4 executed most of this poorly, or perhaps it’s just done really well – either way, Episode 5 should be experience by all fans of Back to the Future.

The final gameplay scene is quite fun; it’s similar to one of the scenes we’ve already experienced in another episode, but it feels more action packed than these episodes usually do and doesn’t leave you disappointed. Then, there’s the very final scene, which is an absolutely brilliant way to end the series, in fact, I’m fairly confident it’s hard to watch this without a smile appearing on your face; it’s the perfect tone for a Back to the Future ending and fits right in with the movies. Fans will love this.

Pros:

  • Solid puzzles and gameplay.
  • Great final scenes that put a good end to the series.
  • Superb voice acting, with a cameo from Michael J. Fox.
  • Story and dialogue is good.

Cons:

  • Apart from the last half-an-hour, it’s not much of a finale.
  • Once again it’s the same time period of 1931 for the most part.
  • Controls could be refined, and glitches are apparent.

I think it’s safe to say that Episode 4 was most definitely just a blip on the radar; Episode 5 is up there with the first three episodes story-wise, perhaps even better, although some gameplay sections drag and the areas, whilst a nice change from the centre of Hill Valley, are quite limited. The conclusion is nothing short of incredible, as is the voice acting and dialogue throughout. Whilst the final episode doesn’t act enough like a finale for most of it, it’s still a great episode and fans will adore playing this.

Overall, Back to the Future: The Game is an excellent way of continuing the series. There’s a lot of great material for fans to enjoy, and if you’re into the 1930s style of America, or a twisted futuristic version of Hill Valley, you’ll love the setting. Although there’s a major drop in quality in Episode 4, the first three episodes are really great and refreshing, with the final episode almost matching them. I’m not going to score the series as a whole, as I’m torn between a 7 and an 8.

Regardless, if you’re a fan of Back to the Future and you haven’t played this yet, you’re doing something wrong. It will not disappoint and for the most part, it’s Back to the Future Part 4, in game form. Just don’t expect individual adventures set in different locations and you’ll get a wonderful time with Marty and Doc in their travels, as they go Back to the Future once again.

Score: 7/10

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7 Comments

  1. Hopefully this is on the PS Store early next month!

  2. Have really enjoyed playing these games and I’m looking forward to this final episode.

    They’re not really up to much gameplay-wise, but they’re so, so good for B2tF fans.

  3. Never thought much of these episodes, ‘wonder how Jurassic Park will fare…

  4. I hated the demo of episode 1, the controls were some of the worst I’ve ever come across in a game. Would suit move really well as a point and click adventure with the nav to move around. Missed opportunity for both the devs and for move.

    • Not experienced it on PS3, I imagine it would make my complaints about the PC controls look like nothing.

    • Biggest mistake telltale made with these is having the movement done separately.
      I wanted Monkey island to be point and click for movement like the older games and the same with this. On PS3 that would then lend itself perfectly to Move.

  5. Just completed the last episode today.
    I don’t think I’ve enjoyed completing a game that much in a long time.
    Just sat through the credits with a stupid big smile on my face, listening to Huey Lewis…
    I wonder would they make another Back to the Future game?
    My Automatic Update did call it Back to the Future: The Game Season 1, does that bode well for a season 2?
    I hope so.

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