BTTF – Episode 2 – Get Tannen

February saw the release of the second of five episodes, in Telltale’s continuation of the Back to the Future storyline.  I’ve certainly gone back and read my review of Episode 1 over, and questioned whether or not I was too generous in giving it 5 out of 5 stars.  I have two answers to that, the first, being that I don’t change my review scores–they are my first instincts, and I stick by them.  The second, being that Episode 1 excelled at the job it was supposed to do–setting the stage, and whetting your appetite for the rest of the episodes.  Telltale managed to nail the setting, nail the characters, the voice acting and overall audio, and pull the player back into a beloved universe in a believable set of sequels.   Now, let’s look at the next entry, and see if it can carry the torch, set pretty high, by the first game!

The Story

You talkin' ta me, butthead?


The game’s story is a bit difficult to discuss, without divulging spoilers.  Last episode, we saw Doc and Marty, poking around in a Depression/Prohibition era Hill Valley.  While everything seemed to be wrapped in a nice, neat little package, Marty and Doc arrived to a 1986 Hill Valley, that was almost as bad as the one in the second movie.  With only a general idea of what went wrong, and a fair idea that their most recent exploits were to blame, Doc and Marty jump back to prohibition in Hill Valley once more.  Returning characters are the younger Doc Brown, Marty’s grandfather, and the gangster-wanna-be grandfather of Biff, Kid Tannen.  As in the last segment, you have only a couple hunches to go on, and you quickly find yourself wrapped in a web of problematic plotlines and intertwining stories, that you must try to untangle, without creating another, nightmare future for you and Doc Brown.

The Gameplay

Do youse guys have a hoverboard?

If I was to have my head whacked against a bathtub, until I could find one complaint about the game, I would have to say that I am still not crazy about how close and finicky the camera can be.  It certainly doesn’t take away from the game experience, but I really can’t find any faults in the game.  Episode 2 follows the same point-and-click gameplay that Telltale has perfected, thus far.  It’s amazing how the setting of the game seems more confined, this time around, and yet, there is so much more going on.  With the introductions over, in the last episode, I found myself much more invested in the events unfolding, this time out.  As Marty, you end up getting tangled up in all sides of the Hill Valley citizens, rubbing elbows with Kid Tannen, befriending the local police, working with community members, all while trying to make sure you don’t blow your cover, or make things worse than they already are for your future family.  Marty gets a bit more of a hands on approach this game, with a couple more strategic action sequences.  In a nutshell, Telltale stuck with the formula that’s worked so well, and managed to add a bit more, to keep the player hooked.

The Verdict

"Give me the almanac!" Oh wait, wrong timeline!

So, as mentioned at the beginning of the review, I stated that I wondered if I had over-scored, and possibly over-hyped, the first episode, and set myself up for disappointment, with the remaining chapters in this section of Hill Valley’s history.  Thankfully, that analysis was as dead wrong as the caricatures on Kid Tannen’s speakeasy walls.  Telltale took a wonderfully crafted environment, and set of characters, and ramped it up to 88mph!  Sure, the plot may sound similar to a the tale played out in the movie trilogy, but did we really want or expect a far deviation from that story driven bungling of clumsiness through time?  I don’t think that this game is as dark as The Empire Strikes Back, but it did eclipse it’s opening act, in the same manner.  Not only can I not wait to see the next story arc, I can’t wait to see if Telltale will choose to continue Doc and Marty’s exploits in future games.  If you waited to jump into Back to the Future, then you have two great episodes to catch up on, let Telltale take you back in time!

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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