Back to the Future Episode 2: Get Tannen

This Nostalgic Ride Begins To Run Low On Gas
by Ben Reeves on Feb 16, 2011 at 07:00 AM
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: PC

Going back in time to correct past mistakes is a powerful fantasy, and Telltale’s Back to the Future series takes full advantage of this dream. In Episode 2: Get Tannen, Marty McFly must travel back in time to correct alterations to the time stream, and save his town from an oppressive mob rule. Fortunately, I don’t feel a need to travel back in time and stop myself from playing this nostalgic romp.

This series sadly lacks episode recaps, so here is the refresher. After Doc Brown gets tied up in a 1930s bootlegging operation and thrown in prison for arson, Marty travels back in time to rescue his friend and mentor. Episode two picks up after Marty has freed Doc from the back of a police wagon and the duo travels back to their own time. Unfortunately, the pair’s meddling has resulted in a future that is controlled by the Tannen gang, so Marty and Doc hop back in the DeLorean and travel back to 1931 to prevent the assassination of Marty’s grandfather and send the notorious gangster Kid Tannen to prison, as has occurred in their original timeline.

This time paradox dilemma harkens back to the classic movie trilogy, but the gameplay fails to take full advantage of this crazy scenario. Aside from one puzzle where you hide from your past self, you could almost forget that there is another version of Marty running around this world.

Most of that world is constructed from repurposed environments found in the first game, but you do get to scope out a few new sections of town and meet a few odd but lovable Hill Valley characters. Unfortunately, movement within the world still feels a little stilted and I’d love to see a more organized inventory system.

Most of the game’s puzzles are fun to solve, and it’s exciting to watch their solutions play out, but matching your inventory to objects in the environment is rarely a challenge and the game falls back on the same gimmicks all too often. One sequence, involving finding the right mood music to get a depressed police officer to talk with you, felt particularly overdone. While I’d love to see this series sparkle with a little more creativity, Telltale’s Back to the Future adventure series remains a short but sweet tribute, and the game’s cliffhanger ending ensures that I’ll be back for Episode 3.

If you want to know more about Telltales Back to the Future series or haven’t played the first episode, check out my review of Episode 1 here.

Game Informer's Review System
Concept Craft an original story that spins off of the Back to the Future trilogy, then fill it with a few clever adventure puzzles
Graphics Telltale’s art style is exaggerated and a little goofy, but every character is recognizable, and the environments are fun to look at
Sound If you didn’t already have the Back to the Future theme memorized, you will after hearing it looped on end for two and a half hours
Playability The standard point and click interface feels very dated here, and it would have been nice if Marty ran a little faster
Entertainment Even casual fans of the movie series can appreciate this digital homage, and while a few puzzles fall flat, most provide a satisfying solution
Replay Moderately low