Reviewed: April 7, 2011
Released: March 29, 2011
With Telltale’s Back to the Future series having hit its stride, it seems like you’d either be sold on the series of not. Still, Back to the Future - Episode 3: Citizen Brown is probably the best of the series so far, and stands to potentially convince any fence-standers. With Marty stranded in an alternate 1985, where Doc Brown has turned his eye to mad sociology and runs the city as a dystopian police state, Citizen Brown presents the most compelling alternate timeline in the series to date, as well as a return to the more elaborate puzzles of the first episode.|
Starting immediately after the second episode left off, with Doc Brown disappeared and Marty stuck in a talking billboard outside of Hill Valley, Citizen Brown puts the player in the role of getting a meeting with Doc Brown and making him realize the cracks in his perfect city. A good amount of time is spent learning and manipulating the rules of the city to get Brown’s attention, leading to a series of interesting puzzles that stretch across Hill Valley’s locations, including a new take on the town square that players of the first two episodes will recognize.
The game’s dialogue is pitch-perfect, with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc Brown, and AJ LoCascio stepping into Marty’s role with an uncanny interpretation of the character that I could barely distinguish from Michael J. Fox. Telltale’s writing is spot on, hitting many of the movie series’ running jokes, while being more than clever in its own right. While there aren’t as many outright jokes as there were in the previous episodes, the dystopian absurdity of the audio tour stands out as one of the episode’s highlights, including the reminder that citizens must remember which identical blue recycling bin to put trash in.
The game’s graphics are charming; with a cartoonish bent that pervades the game. The character designs fit their roles in the game, and while the differences in the level of caricature can be momentarily alarming, as the comparison between Marty and Doc Brown’s proportions took me aback when I first noticed them, the interpretation works better, and the characters have more life and expression to them than a more realistic approach would have. Meanwhile, the music draws its cues from the films, with numerous familiar themes coming back around, and fans of the movies’ scores will find a lot to recognize and enjoy.
The gameplay itself is a relatively simple adventure game. The puzzles are all either dialogue-based or involve using items straight from the inventory with little combination or other elaborate inventory tricks to be found. A robust help system will ease players who can’t boggle through the solutions through the game, though the puzzles are straightforward enough that veteran players might not find much to challenge them. The puzzles seem to be back up to par with the first episode, ending up in me resorting to hints rather often. It’s bound to be less of an issue for more proficient adventure players, but the short ride is back to being fairly fulfilling for players across the spectrum.
For fans of the films, you can hardly go wrong with the Back to the Future adventure games. If you’ve already bought the first, then you know the kind of quality you’re in for. If you’re hesitant and looking to see if it’s maintained throughout the series, then you’re in luck, because the Back to the Future games are still right up there with the gold standard that Telltale’s set for licensed adventure games.