Back to the Future: The Game Episode 4: Double Visions
First posted on 10 May 2011. Last updated on 30 June 2011.
Back to the Future: The Game
The season is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode 1: It's About Time
- Episode 2: Get Tannen!
- Episode 3: Citizen Brown
- Episode 4: Double Visions
- Episode 5: Outatime
Marty McFly keeps getting lost in time! He is also doing whatever possible in his power to restore his own timeline. In the previous (third) episode, Marty returns to an alternate timeline in 1986 and finds that the town of Hill Valley has been turned into a police state—with Citizen Brown, Doc Brown's counterpart in this timeline, as the ultimate ruler. He also learns that Edna Strickland has married him and is more or less the real power behind the throne. Just when Marty is finally able to convince Citizen Brown that he must alter his own past to restore the correct timeline, Edna captures both of them and foils Marty's plan.
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 4: Double Visions continues on immediately with the events of the previous episode. Marty and Citizen Brown are now imprisoned in a brainwashing facility, where troublesome citizens are being reprogrammed to become "model" citizens. After Marty escapes from the cell and rescues Citizen Brown, Marty convinces Citizen Brown to repair the time machine and return to 1931 to prevent Edna and him from ever getting married. Needless to say, the plan to restore the original timeline goes awry once again. Further, the consequences for not fixing the troubled timeline will be most severe.
Even more, Marty now faces a difficult ethical dilemma with this plan, since it means he must destroy a couple's relationship that is currently healthy. It is obvious from the story that Emmett and Edna are truly in love, and it feels both evil and awkward for Marty to intentionally cause mischief to break up the couple.
Most of the characters introduced so far in the series make their return appearances in this episode. Moreover, since some parts of the story are set in 1986 and other parts are set in 1931, a few characters such as Emmett are seen in this episode in different versions from the different timelines. It is entertaining to see how some of these characters grow to be very different over time. The oddest case by far is Edna, who appears in the first episode as a sad and lonely old lady in the original timeline. In the alternative timeline, however, Edna is portrayed as a powerful and controlling woman. Her young counterpart, on the other hand, is much more innocent, with high ideals and unbending social principles. Likewise, young Emmett has changed somewhat since the second episode. He is now in love with Edna, who has slowly and subtly started to control him. It is surprising how much the older Citizen Brown resembles the older Doc Brown, even though they have presumably lived a completely different adult life in the different timelines.
The biggest disappointment of the series so far has been the trivial puzzle solving needed to the complete the game. To this end, it is good to find that the quality of the puzzles has actually improved in this episode. Several puzzles now require more clever thinking than those from earlier episodes. Still, the objectives of the puzzles are kept fairly simple. For example, early on in the game, Marty writes up a list of tasks that you (as Marty) must complete so that Edna will break up with Emmett. A particular task from this list requires you to repeat a near identical solution 5 times. The game's built-in hint system is also too generous, and you can miss a good deal of information by following it blindly. Fortunately, most of the scenes in this episode are new, so at a minimum you no longer walk endlessly around the same few scenes to solve these puzzles.
The greatest strength of the series continues to be the story. In fact, this has been my own strongest motivation to complete each episode. How will the actions in the past alter the future? If any moral is to be learned from the series, it is that the slightest alteration can have an enormous impact on the future. Even for minor and stereotypical characters, seeing how the alternative versions of them turn out is undeniably fun.
As the penultimate episode, it remains to see how the series will wrap up in the next episode. The story is by far the most interesting part of the series. While this episode also tries to be humorous, many of the jokes in it fall flat. Like many fans of the series, I too long for a strong closure in the final episode, so that the series can end on a high note which the franchise so truly deserves.