PC Review: Back to the Future: Episode 1: It’s About Time

Doc’s in trouble once again and only Marty can save him…

Back to the Future is one of those licenses that never translated well into videogames, so Telltale had quite the task ahead of them in making a decent BTTF game, especially one that takes place after the third film. Could they manage to fit the story in to make it relevant to the story canon and how could they bring back fond memories of the trilogy?

It’s About Time takes place a few months after Back to the Future Part III. It begins with a tutorial which is a re-telling of the first time the DeLorean jumps into the future at the mall car park. But oddly, the DeLorean doesn’t reappear and Doc vanishes instead, Marty awakes to find it was all a dream and he heads to Doc’s to stop the sale of his house only to find he’s too late. After a trip down memory lane with the amplifier and teaching Biff a lesson, the DeLorean suddenly shows up with Einstein inside and a few clues to where and when Doc is.

It seems that Doc has got himself locked up in 1931 and is set to be gunned down on the steps of the courthouse. Of course, Marty arrives to be reunited with his old friend and has to convince the 1931 Emmett Brown to invent a rocket powered drill to bust him out of jail, but he has to contend with Brown’s father’s expectations that Emmett becomes involved in law, not science. As well as handing a subpoena to Marty’s grandfather and dealing with yet another Tannen by the name of Kid who’s essentially a Mafia-type boss during prohibition.

This first episode really sets up a great reintroduction into the Back to the Future series and has all the traditional things that you would expect, including running away from Kid Tannen and his cronies and their unlucky runs-in with…you’ve guessed it, manure. The puzzles are pretty simple though, and you can even get a number of hints in the menu to tell you what you have to do. There’s no real challenge to be found and you can complete the entire episode in about 90 minutes, if not less.

One thing that confused me was how the DeLorean turned up in the first place, since it had previously been destroyed by the train at the end of Part III. Luckily, Doc explains all that if you get into a deep enough conversation with him, which also clears up why Clara and his kids aren’t with him. I’m glad that Telltale thought this through, otherwise plot holes galore would descend and the fans would not be happy! It’s About Time has the classic Back to the Future feel about it, even with its visual style that is more animated than realistic. It’s also good to hear Christopher Lloyd reprise his role as Doc Brown, he does an excellent job as if he never left the role. The voice-actor who stands in for Marty McFly also does a brilliant job and sounds just like Michael J Fox did when he played the character.

I was sceptical that they wouldn’t be able to recapture the magic of BTTF and I’m so glad that I was wrong. The visual style suits the series well, it also looks superb and runs smoothly, facial animation is fluid and although only parts of Hill Valley are accessible in Episode 1, I expect that more and more will open up in the further episodes. When you finish the episode, you are left on a cliff-hanger and even see a trailer for Episode 2, which looks excellent…I cannot wait.

The Verdict

It’s About Time is an excellent entry into breathing new life into the Back to the Future story. Marty and Doc’s friendship has gripped us for years and it’s great to see them in a new adventure together. The first episode is a bit easy, but serves as a nice welcome after the long hiatus from Part III to It’s About Time. I only hope the next episode can continue this, I almost wish I had a DeLorean so I didn’t have to wait till next month for Get Tannen!