Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime

Posted by Erik-André Vik Mamen.
First posted on 02 July 2011. Last updated on 05 July 2011.
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Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime
The science exposition is where young Emmett will be showing off his new invention.
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime
The picture radio is destined (or not) to be the entertainment for the future.
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime
Marty has some choice words for Edna!
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime
Marty watches as Emmett flies his contraception in the air.
Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime
An iconic scene from the game pays homage to the original movies.

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

In Back to the Future: The Game Episode 5: Outatime, Marty McFly finds himself once again lost in a timeline when his own future seems distant—and unlikely. His problems stand in queue, and he has to resolve some major conundrums before he is able to return to his own timeline back in 1986. Worst yet, his chances of achieving this feat seem rather remote, as so many events in the alternate timelines are rapidly transpiring out of his control.

In the previous episode, Citizen Brown (Doc Brown's counterpart in an alternate timeline) agrees to help Marty to rid of Edna Strickland, Citizen Brown's future wife, in order to restore the original timeline. Soon after, however, he gets cold feet and decides to act on his own accord. Instead of getting rid of Edna, he comes to believe that he can be in a happy relationship with her as long as he does not become obsessed with science during his youth. Not surprisingly, with so much of the story in this episode depends on the back story from previous episodes, for gamers who are unfamiliar with this series thus far, jumping in at this last episode is plain pointless.

While Citizen Brown tries to stop his younger self, the young Emmett Brown, from participating in a science exposition, Edna is also trying to stop Marty from restoring the original timeline. As if these are not enough problems for Marty already, Marty soon finds out that his very own existence may be in jeopardy because his grandfather Artie McFly is about to marry another woman rather than Marty's grandmother. Even the town of Hill Valley itself becomes threatened by alternations in the timeline.

Most of this episode's story takes place at the Hill Valley Science and Technology Exposition, where young Emmett is supposed to show off his invention that will spark his interest in science. However, Marty discovers that Citizen Brown had kidnapped young Emmett and that Edna has convinced the police to shut down young Emmett's exhibit. Naturally, it is up to Marty to foil their plans.

Akin to Telltale Games' other episodic series, all of the episodes in this series have been released on a rather rapid schedule. Even so, it has taken half a year for the series to come to a finale. Many players will encounter difficulties with remembering every detail of each episode's story. If these episodes have been released together as a single game, most players will likely have an easier time making sense of the story as a whole. For some gamers, it may not be a bad idea to wait until all of the episodes have been released before playing them in a single run-through.

Newcomer voice actor A.J. LoCascio lends his voice playing the role of Marty, replacing Michael J. Fox who is unavailable to reprise his role from the Back to the Future movies. In this episode, however, Fox makes a surprise cameo appearance, voicing as Marty's grandfather William McFly and a few other surprise characters. It is quite a treat, but rather funny at the same time, to hear LoCascio and Fox bantering against each other, all the while knowing that they have both portrayed the character of Marty decades apart. Together with Christopher Lloyd reprising his role as Doc, the cast alone will satisfy the appetite of any Back to the Future fans.

Previous episodes of the series have been plagued with odd game glitches and bugs, perhaps owing to the rapid development cycle that Telltale Games has adopted in order to meet the tight release schedule. It makes sense that the developer has decided to take extra time to polish this final episode to ensure a shiny ending to the series (or this season). Compared to previous episodes, there are now more hotspots to examine and interact with as well as more puzzles to solve. Alas, this episode is far from being free of glitches and bugs. Invisible walls are aplenty, wherein Marty is unable to walk in some directions that do not have any physical hinder. As well, in a particular scene, a barrel is seen rolling down a ramp but somehow appears upright where it is needed even after taking some unlikely turns. Lastly, there is a jarring bug in which an item already appears at a place before it is to be placed there by Marty. Even though the item appears on screen, the game behaves as if the task to place the item there has not yet been completed. This leads to strange commentaries made by the game's characters that make no sense at all.

Looking back at the series as a whole, it is clear that Universal Studios (which holds the license to this franchise) has given Telltale Games nearly free reigns to do more or less whatever it wants with the franchise. It is also clear that the series has been developed with a primary focus on storytelling. The puzzles, for the most parts, exist only to provide motivations to advance in the story.

The game takes a lot of liberty in deciding how changes in the events of the past affect the events of the future, even at a cost of creating inconsistency in the logic of the game's story. As Doc states, "the ripples in the time stream haven't caught up with us yet". While this is somewhat consistent with the logic used in the movies, the idea is oddly executed. In previous episodes, rather small changes in the past are seen to have a great and an immediate impact on the future. Thus, it seems very unlikely all of the meddling done by Marty of the past somehow has not altered the future even further. In the end, however, it needs to be accepted that time travel is simply used as a fictional device in the storytelling for the game.

With the recent announcements by Telltale Games on the development of newer game projects based on other franchises licenses, including Jurassic Park, Law & Order, and King's Quest, it is conceivable that the developer may be spreading its development resources too thin to sustain all of these projects. Compared to other episodic series previously released by the developer, this series has been plagued with more glitches and bugs. Interestingly, the last words to appear on screen in this episode is not "The End" but rather "To Be Continued". As such, fans of Back of the Future may be comforted to know that the adventures of Marty and Doc will likely continue in some distant future—or quite possibly some distant past.

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