Back to the Future Episode 3: Citizen Brown

Back to the Future Episode 3: Citizen Brown Review
by Ben Reeves on Mar 28, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Rating: Teen
Reviewed on: PC

Alternate reality is one of the mainstays of science fiction. It’s not hard to understand why. In real life it can be exciting, even cathartic, to imagine what might have been if we’d acted differently during any given situation. Within mirror realities of established fiction, there is often a playful charm to seeing heroes become villains and vice versa. Episode 3 of Telltale’s Back to the Future adventure series turns Hill Valley on its head, and shows that one man’s vision for utopia can be everyone else’s nightmare.

After Marty and Doc return from their 1930s adventures, Doc vanishes and Marty discovers that his present timeline has been drastically altered. The citizens of Hill Valley are a brainwashed mass who live under the thumb of an alternate version of Doc Brown. A thousand cameras ominously record the town’s events as brainwashed citizens like Biff Tannen go about their lives as model citizens. Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer, has even become a repulsive punk rocker whose every line of dialogue pressed against my nerves like a cheese grater. In order to obtain a meeting with this reality’s version of Doc Brown, Marty will have to stir up enough trouble within Hill Valley for its overseers to take notice.

From a tech standpoint, this series remains largely unchanged, so my previous complaints about the inventory management and awkward environmental navigation still stand. However, in terms of story and humor, the series may be hitting its stride. From jokes made at the DeLorean’s expense to the innocent antics of Biff Tannen, this entry in Telltale’s adventure series is the funniest to date.

Thankfully, the game’s puzzles also seem to be a bit more challenging this time around. It took me a couple minutes to figure out how to escape from a crashed DeLorean at the beginning of the game, and discovering the secret stash of booze Marty’s mother keeps hidden in town will require some inventive environmental manipulation.

While it would be nice to see some side quests or branching environments worth exploring, and a few minor glitches result in some awkward scenes, Telltale’s Back to the Future remains one of the better film adaptations in video games, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes as Telltale begins to build towards a conclusion. If episodes 4 and 5 build on the series as much as this entry has, you won’t want to miss it either.

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

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 song 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