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Back to the Future Episode 4: Double Visions

Once More Unto The DeLorean

Internet comedy capitalizes on the humor of the moment, but even the most popular memes wither once a society grows tired of the joke. It doesn’t take much repetition for one creative idea to become a gimmick. This is the rut that Telltale’s Back to the Future series is in danger of falling into.

Marty McFly has bounced between the 1986 and a 1930s versions of Hill Valley so many times now he’s probably beginning to feel whiplash. After discovering that his version of 1986 has turned into an Orwellian police state, Marty makes his daring escape from a rehabilitation center and then travels back to the 1930s for a third time, where he hopes to finally right his many quantum wrongs. Thanks to Marty’s previous exploits, a young Emmett Brown has started dating the uptight newspaper reporter, Edna Strickland. To restore his version of 1986, Marty must break up young Emmett’s relationship while reigniting the young scientist’s interest in theoretical physics.

Like the rest of the series, there are a few exciting and humorous moments, but if you’ve been following it for this long, you’ll likely feel like you’ve experienced these plot themes several times already. I was hoping we’d get to see another time period by now, but it’s clear that won’t be happening at this point.

Telltale’s puzzles have always been this series’ weak point, but they are particularly feeble in Episode 4. Most of the puzzles boil down to matching objects within the environment to the meager selection of items in your inventory. Others require grueling trial and error. One enigma in particular – where Marty must take a brain scan of young Emmett – might be the series’ most tedious puzzle yet. It’s also disappointing to see that many of the bugs I first ran into while playing Episode 1 are still present this far into the series. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a character model will disappear or sound effects will miss their mark.

Despite its faults, Back to the Future Episode 4 remains a pleasurable nostalgia trip for fans. Among other clever winks to the film series, Marty blasts a few people off their feet after hooking his guitar up to a car-sized speaker and rides around town on a makeshift skateboard. Like every episode before it, Double Vision ends with a twist, which helped build my excitement for Telltale’s next (and final) entry, but I hope Episode 5 tries to break the mold.

If you want to know more about Telltales Back to the Future series, check out my reviews of Episode 1, 2, and 3.

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