This finale is action-packed, adding variety and some surprises to an overused formula.
Back to the Future: The Game has become one of Telltale’s best episodic franchises ever. Many fans were eagerly waiting for this highly anticipated finale and even though the season has definitely had its high and lows, it’s really nice to see how Telltale manages to wrap up such a complex story. Fortunately, Outatime offers a nice change of pace and delivers a really solid conclusion.
When the adventure begins Marty needs to pick up a static accumulator from Emmet’s house and take it to Hill Valley’s Science Exposition. There, your main objective will be to help Emmet win the contest in order to restore all the different timelines, doing this will take you many places and you’ll have a chance to interact with many characters and things you’ll find in the environment. As you probably know, most characters featured in previous games are back, like Marty’s grandfather, Trixie, Edna, Officer Parker and so on.
As usual, this episode picks up right after the end of the last one, in this case “Double Visions”. As soon as Outatime begins you’ll notice that the episode goes back to the highly praised dark tone so proper of the movies, and all of those who have played previous games of the season probably remember “Citizen Brown” as this was the first to use such an interesting approach to tell the story, making it much more adult and complex. Here, characters are portrayed in a very intricate way, giving the feeling that they aren’t just mere puppets that you move or interact with. Instead they seem more like people who respond to what happens to them or react according to their personalities. The moments of emotional poignancy so proper of the films have been translated to the game in a really accurate way, making the whole plot a little more convincing and as if there were actually serious consequences to your acts, even when there’s simply no way you can lose.
A very important issue with the series has always been its repetitive nature, but fortunately and to avoid this, some new settings are introduced in Outatime. The most prominent one is probably the Hill Valley Expo itself, though there are some additional ones featured later on in the game. Though most of these places are rather small and not very detailed, it should be noted that there are a couple of them, so it’s really nice to see new elements even at the end of the season. As a consequence of the inclusion of these new places, the setting takes on a different approach and the main plot and the whole story seem much more cohesive. The game in general feels longer than previous iterations, but what’s really amazing is that its introduction is so well-paced that you never get bored, as the game keeps rewarding you with new things to do or discover.
Additionally, “Outtatime” has retained its sense of humor and you’ll hear some witty jokes here and there. There aren’t really that many laugh-out-loud moments like in other Telltale games (like Puzzle Agent or the Sam & Max series), but the movies always had this weird sense of humor that was really distinctive, so it’s good to see these in the finale. There are also many winks and nods to elements already established in previous games and also from the movies. Though it’s really not necessary to have played or seen all of them recently to understand some of the references, it may be confusing if you haven’t.
Also, there’s some swearing in the dialogues and the episode makes a couple of references to some mature topics which involve things like politics or other complex themes. That’s to say that the game is not appropriate for children. You’ll hear some references to anarchism, subversive activities and more words of that nature that kids may have problems understanding.
Furthermore, there aren’t many new and ingenious puzzles included in the adventure. For example, the first one, in which you need to move from room to room in a maze-like space isn’t necessarily very difficult, and this is the perfect example of how toned down the whole experience has become. The gameplay is still weak and you’ll spend more time watching sequences than playing the actual game. In any way, the popular hint system is still present so there’s simply no excuse to not finish the story.
Something that may seem surprising is that this finale actually manages to tie all the loose ends of the season in a really fulfilling way. Still, if you think about all the different inconsistencies related to time travel or if you want to take into account all the parallel timelines that occur at the same time and how they influence each other you’ll probably find that the whole story is incongruous. Ultimately, the conclusion is more than adequate considering what happened on all the previous installments.
Graphically, the game looks really good, but even if you play it on higher settings you won’t notice any significant improvement from a technical perspective. I’ve ran into some inconsistencies while playing the game for reviewing purposes and even though most of them didn’t affect the experience, they were more than unpleasant as I had to restart the adventure a couple of times. On more than one opportunities Marty went through a solid wall, so I was trapped in room from which there was no apparent escape. It’s quite odd, as I’ve played every single game in the series and even though there were some minor glitches here and there, they never affected the gameplay. Overall, and apart from some flaws, Telltale should have been twitching the graphics engine to make it much more polished and consistent than it is, so it’s a shame that at this point in the series you can find inconsistencies like this one.
In conclusion, Outatime represents a worthwhile experience especially for those who have been patient enough to see how it concludes. If you loved the movies and played all the four previous iterations you simply owe it to yourself to see the ending. You’ll find some interesting surprises along the way, you’ll see much more action and you’ll probably feel nostalgic. If this sounds good to you, you’ll enjoy this finale.