Back to the Future: The Game – Episode 2: Get Tannen! Review

Even if the novelty of the first episode is wearing thin, this game is still a really fun experience.

It’s been about two months since the release of the first episode of the Back to the Future adventure series. Like Sam & Max, Puzzle Agent and Monkey Island, this series is also serialized into different episodes. Fortunately, you can now play the second part called Get Tannen!, which ‘ll take you once again to 1931 during the prohibition era, the same place you explored on episode 1. It feels really natural to pick up the adventures of Doc and Marty right where you left it a while ago. The first part relied heavily on familiarity and nostalgia making many references to the original trilogy. But, would this second part be able to capture the same charm? We’re about to find out.

During “It’s About Time” you rescued Doc Brown from jail, but some of your actions in the past caused some time “inconsistencies”. So Marty has to go back once again, this time to prevent his grandfather from being assassinated and help arrest local crime boss Kid Tannen. To do so, you’ll revisit most of the places that were introduced on Episode 1, but you’ll also go to some locations you previously couldn’t like the new speakeasy or Hill Valley’s most important hotel. If you take into account all the different timelines, alternate realities or possible time-paradoxes that exist into the game or may occur at any given point, the main storyline can be quite confusing or inconsistent. In any way, it’s not advisable to think about it too much.

Fortunately, things change soon in more engaging ways. As the storyline focuses on other characters it takes a different direction when compared to Episode 1, that doesn’t mean the plot is boring or anything but is simply different. Edna Strickland and Young Doc Brown are still here, but they have minor roles comparing it to the previous episode, also Kid Tannen is a key character and has the role of the main villain. The additional locations provide Hill Valley with more realistic elements and as a result, the city feels bigger, more complex and interesting.

Drunk people are funny people.

Meeting new characters in a game is always an amusing thing to do, here there are two new roles. Firstly we have Trixie Trotter, a world-famous singer and secondly we have Official Parker, a very unlucky cop who has lost faith in everything. Additionally, and as a trademark of the series there are many puzzles for you to solve, but they take place in only one small place and even in the same building. Also, most of them are really clever and amusing, but the thing is that they are way too easy. Of course, this was intentionally made by Telltale to reach a wider audience that isn’t necessarily familiar with this type of gameplay.

Some of the new puzzles involve following some complex dialogues, for example to enter the speakeasy you are required to match two parts of a phrase to make puns similarly to what you had to do on some other Telltale games like Sam & Max. But for most part of the game you’ll need to interact with many objects and items you find laying around. This type of gameplay makes sure everyone who plays the game has a lot of fun, so you’ll probably never get stuck wandering what to do next, mainly because the hint system is back and it works really well. Get Tannen! is incredibly short, even shorter than episode 1. You can pretty much finish the game in less than 3 hours and considering how linear the game is most people won’t be very impressed.

Where we’re going, we only need stupid policemen…

The rest of the “action” puzzles are back. Just like the ones featured on the previous episode, these are awesome as they are fast-paced and even when you don’t do a lot they feel really rewarding. These also create a fake feeling of tension that adds a little realism to the game, something that was proper of the trilogy of films. When you are part of these sequences you only need to dodge, move or roll quickly instead of having to use and combine many items from your inventory. Usually, you’ll feel you’re quickly reacting to something rather than being part of a very complex or creative puzzle, but at the same time it adds a lot of cinematic effects to a game based on a film.

The game uses the same graphics engine than its previous part and still looks awesome. Characters’ expressions are superb and act accordingly, though there are many inconsistencies with lip-syncing. The cartoony art became proper of the series of games and fits this really well. On the other hand, the soundtrack is incredibly good adding emotions like suspense, tension, humor and so forth. Some people claim they have found bugs and problems at specific points in the game. None of these appear to break it or anything like that, but it makes it feel much more rushed than Episode 1. Personally, I didn’t ran into any particular problems but then again, I didn’t play the game on the highest graphical settings so maybe toning it down a bit seems a safe bet if you don’t want to have any issues.

Though the game feels a little recycled and simple at times, it manages to be quite entertaining and funny. This episode also relies on nostalgia and it stills has a strong effect, let’s just hope that it doesn’t run out any time soon. Still, the series is acquiring its own identity and developers are exploring new territories and we already know that a few weeks from now we’ll all be enjoying a brand new part of this great episodic series.