Back to the Future: The Game: Episode 4: Double Visions
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: 3/28/2011
As we move up to the penultimate episode of Telltale’s Back to the Future series, it’s important to look back and see how it has shaped up. We have had a decent starting episode, an underwhelming second episode, and great third episode. Here’s hoping that Double Visions keeps the momentum from Citizen Brown going.
Episode three left off on a cliff-hanger with Doc Brown’s alternate timeline wife, Edna Strickland, capturing both Marty and Doc (who is now First Citizen Brown) just as they were about to go back in time to fix this messed up chain of events. So now it’s up to Marty to break them out and get back to 1931.
That’s the part I was dreading; going back to 1931 just annoyed me because I was tired of it already from the first two episodes and there’s definitely a sense of fatigue when you’re back there again. Much to my dismay, you stay there for the remainder of the episode, which also ends in a cliffhanger that seems to indicate that the final episode will still take place in the same time period.
The good thing about this episode is that there is a great twist near the end that I was NOT expecting at all and credit must go to the writers for that curveball because it really sets up the final episode to be something really interesting.
Story/Modes Rating: Great
I’ve mentioned pretty much everything there is to mention about the graphics in my previous reviews and Telltale keep the graphics pretty much stable throughout this episode as well.
The sad fact is that the 1931 locations really don’t look as good as the 1986 version of Hill Valley, especially Citizen Brown’s imposing office which is my favourite set from any Telltale game. That said, young Doc Brown’s messed up lab looks just like how I imagined Doc Brown’s lab to look when he was younger and there’s plenty of stuff piled onto more weird stuff in such a small place.
Graphics Rating: Decent
Like for graphics, there really isn’t anything that can be said for sound that I haven’t said already in previous reviews. AJ LoCasio is still an amazing Michael J. Fox impersonator and Christopher Lloyd is still recognizable as Doc (though his voice has gotten noticeably older).
Much of the theme music from the movies is also used here in the game which does give it a boost in the immersion factor, but most of the time you won’t notice the music.
Sound Rating: Classic
I’ve already bored you enough already with how much I hate the controls so I won’t repeat myself here.
In the review for Citizen Brown, I mentioned how part of the game let you embark on three simultaneous quests that can be solved in any order you wish. I liked that idea and it’s great to see that Telltale have re-used this concept for Double Vision, with the only difference being that the branching point comes later in the game rather than in the middle as was the case in Episode Three.
The challenge is similar to previous episodes, which is to say not much and the finale was somewhat disappointing, not because it wasn’t great storyline wise but due to the fact that there is no real way to fail it so you can keep messing up till you succeed. Reminds me of the joke in Curse of Monkey Island where a character didn’t think it was possible to die in Lucasarts adventure games and I guess Marty or Doc dying a horrific death just wasn’t go to go down well when pitching the project to Universal.
Control/Gameplay Rating: Poor
Double Visions lasts just about as long as previous episodes, somewhere around the three hour mark depending on how fast you are, which is on par with most episodic point and click adventure games released by Telltale. Like most episodic point-and-click adventure games, there really is no reason at all to go back and play the game again unless you want to see a little bit of dialogue you missed the first time around.
Replayability Rating: Dreadful
Double Visions is about as difficult as the previous episode, which is at least a step up from the very easy second episode. As always, you have a hint system to help you along in case of any trouble.
It’s this very hint system that makes me wish the game was harder. Make it make us beg for mercy Telltale!
Balance Rating: Decent
There really hasn’t been any sort of gameplay improvement since the first episode in the series, and I really think this is a reason that blows one of episodic gaming’s biggest talking points out of the water: the ability to fix errors in your game due to consumer feedback between episodes.
This is impossible since the release schedule is hectic with less than a month between episodes. That’s nowhere near enough time to do any improvements and even if it DID manage that, that’s like using your own consumers as beta testers.
Originality Rating: Dreadful
While this episode features two things I liked from previous episodes (the instant danger from “Get Tannen!”Â and the multiple objectives from “Citizen Brown”Â) it doesn’t pull them off as well. The danger evaporates early in the game, and the middle part drags on and is not as much fun as episode three.
On the plus side, the finale was undoubtedly the best of the four episodes so far and it looks to set up an awesome final episode.
Addictiveness Rating: Enjoyable
I always thought releasing two episodic adventure series would cannibalize both developer resources and Telltale’s audience – the other game being Jurassic Park, of course.
Imagine my surprise when Jurassic Park was pushed from an April release date (which would mean it would run parallel with Back to the Future) to a fall release date.
Now if only Telltale had did that a long time ago instead of neglecting the marketing budget for Back to the Future in favour of Jurassic Park, but I guess since they’re not selling the series by the episode like they did back with previous series it doesn’t really matter as long as they get as much first day sales as possible.
Appeal Factor Rating: Decent
Allow me to speak about Jurassic Park for a little while longer. In fact, let me also speak about the Walking Dead game that Telltale also has announced. It’s pretty obvious why the good folks at Telltale have chosen to use the episodic model for their games: they didn’t have the budget to release a full retail game. Isn’t that what was supposed to help indie developers get money? Releasing games in episodes so people can continually fund the project while it’s in development?
But now Telltale is making games based on Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and The Walking Dead. Surely by this time they have a budget to make a full length game like the Lucasarts classics of old?
Miscellaneous Rating: Poor
Short Attention Span Summary
Double Visions keeps the momentum going from Citizen Brown and has one of the best twists in Back to the Future history near the end but at this point in time, the series’ no frills gameplay is getting old and I can’t wait for the final episode just to be done with the series. Not a good sign at all.