Review: Back to the Future: Episode 4

The time has come: the penultimate episode of Back to the Future: The Game is here. The story continues from where episode three left off, with Marty imprisoned in the twisted, ‘perfect’ version of 1986. Marty first has to plan his escape from prison and then work out just how to get his timeline back on track and undo the alterations in the past to fix space and time.

After narrowly escaping the Citizen Plus programme in the opening section, you have to wait for Doc outside as he fixes the DeLorean; it’s taken him six months to get it working again, but to you this only seems like a matter of minutes. This is the first hint that the DeLorean isn’t working properly, as Doc intended to arrive only seconds after he departed to fix the DeLorean, rather than minutes. It gets even worse when you show up in 1931 two months later than intended and you’ll have to do a lot more than you were hoping to do to rearrange the timeline.

Unfortunately, that dreaded feeling of repetition has settled in now we’re at the fourth instalment and the charm has faded. We’ve seen the areas before – both the twisted 1986 and the classic 1931, the year when everything went wrong – and we’ve met all of the characters before, from young Emmet Brown, to Citizen Plus Doc, to Edna Strickland. Whilst the way the story was told in the first two episodes avoided repetition, and the third episode was a completely new setting with a great plot; Episode 4 merely revisits these areas and doesn’t add enough into the game to make it stand out.

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[drop2]The gameplay remains solid for the most part, although it could have benefited from some quick time events in the more action packed sections, as many of these are simply cutscenes which leave you feeling left out, destroying the feeling of danger altogether. The puzzles and quests – as excellent as some of them were in previous episodes – feel dull, confusing and have lost the charm that they had before.

They just don’t work like they did in previous episodes and also fall prey to repetition; one puzzle is just a mix of the young Emmet’s laboratory puzzle from the first episode and the mood changing puzzle from Episode 2.

Since we head back to 1931 in Episode 4, the plot begins to tie in with the first two episodes and come full circle. It’s great seeing it happen, but it’s executed poorly. In fact, everything about Episode 4 seems to be poorer than the previous instalments. The story fills in some plot holes, but there’s nothing superb or fantastic about it: the writing is nowhere as near as hilarious, the references have become stale and this all leads up to a disappointing ending. Add this to some annoying glitches, including dialogue not appearing, and Episode 4 is easily the worst of the bunch.

Thankfully, the voice acting in Episode 4 remains excellent and they’ve really nailed the sound; all of those little jingles, songs and sound effects are used very well throughout the episode. As I come to the part where I repeat myself about the graphics being decent, but nothing outstanding, we come to the conclusion of this review. Repetition’s a funny thing, it can be useful in some cases, but in Back to the Future’s case it just doesn’t help at all.

Pros:

  • Excellent voice acting with great sound.
  • Most things aren’t bad, just not as good as before.

Cons:

  • It’s like we’re playing the exact same game again, only worse.
  • Poorest episode in the series.
  • Puzzles have become dull and aren’t thought out well.

Oh dear, what happened, TellTale? We’ve had three excellent episodes with a superb story and good puzzles that don’t bore you, and now we’ve been given this? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a rubbish game per se, it’s just that compared to the previous episodes, this is a blip on the radar. It’s by far the poorest episode and the sound alone isn’t going to save it. So, is it down to repetition in the series or was Episode 4 just not as good? It’s a bit of both, really; a different setting would have made it better, but that doesn’t remove the fact that it’s just a poorly made episode in comparison to the others.

Here’s hoping the finale won’t suffer the same fate.

Score: 5/10

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13 Comments

  1. Hopefully we get these on the store when its back up!

    • Yeah, we haven’t even got episode 3 yet, let alone episode 4 :/

      • Yeah, I can’t wait to play Episode 3 “/

  2. Have been thinking about getting this series for a while, but for obvious reasons couldnt for the last 3 weeks! Anyone recommend them? Also, if you pay for them now I assume you get all the released episodes at once, right?

    • Yes, the first the episodes are excellent. And yes, you’ll get them all (on Steam?)

      • Via PSN/PS3?

      • I think there’s only 2 episodes out in the EU so far!

      • Yep, just the two for now, “It’s About Time” and “Get Tannen”.

  3. Was by far the most disappointing episode. But I think the score is a bit too shallow. I’d give it a 7 maybe. I’m sure episode 5 will be the best though, Telltale have a tendency of saving the best for the last.

  4. They are shite sadly.

    • I don’t think so, this one let me down though :)

  5. Bit of a large drop in score. Hopefully Ep5 is a return to form.
    I’m just looking forward to Ep3 on PSN, hopefully soon.

  6. So far I’m loving the story in the first 2 episodes but the controls and graphics do let the game down quite a bit. Still, as a huge BTTF fan, it was always gonna be a purchase for me regardless :D

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