Marty McFly… a dork?!
As we left the last episode, Marty had successfully put Kid Tannen behind bars and undid the changes he and Doc had made in episode 1. Unfortunately the younger Doc and the attractive but intrusively ultra-conformist Edna Strickland now seem to have started a relationship… a relationship that leads to some big changes in Marty’s “present” of 1986. Doc Brown is now First Citizen Brown, and Hill Valley is like something out of 1984 (I don’t think the similarity in dates is a coincidence). There is no catch-up prologue or “previous on”. It’s straight in, so make sure you are up to speed.
Right off the bat, Citizen Brown is a lot more entertaining and involving than either of the previous episodes, and that is saying something. Hill Valley is clean, sterile, and terrifying for anyone who values free will. Rack up too many demerits (for such crimes as kissing in public or owning a dog) and you get “re-educated”, and anyone who has seen that ‘Time and Punishment’ Halloween story from The Simpsons will know what that means.
I’ve gotta admit, I kinda like you like this.
The main reasons you will enjoy playing Citizen Brown is the ongoing story and, from a fan standpoint, seeing all the characters bar Marty transformed by the new timeline. I won’t spoil any of the story, but I had been enjoying it so far anyway and it really hits a peak here with some wonderful twists.
The characters are also utterly superb. There are a couple of new faces from the films, including Marty’s mum Lorraine and his girlfriend Jennifer, who are now respectively a secret alcoholic and a punk rebel. Jennifer is particularly of note, not just because she’s now a much more interesting character (even Marty admits as much) but also because she’s played by Claudia Wells. Wells played Jennifer in the very first film, but couldn’t appear in the sequels because of personal reasons.
Just like in the last two episodes, and indeed all of Telltale’s games, the voice acting is uniformly excellent. AJ LoCascio continues to amaze as Marty as does the always great Christopher Lloyd, and Claudia Wells does a great rebel, but it is Rebecca Schweitzer as Edna Strickland who’s impressing me the most. She’s played three completely distinctive iterations of the same character, at different times in her life, over the course of three episodes!
She’s been acting really odd lately, almost as if she didn’t like my constant supervision!”
I don’t know if Telltale simply had more time on this episode, but one thing is clear: it’s definitely a lot more polished than episodes one or two. Graphical and sound glitches that occurred in both previous episodes have been snuffed out, and the whole episode flows smoothly. While that does mean that time shoots by and you will quickly find yourself at the end, you will not be wandering around Hill Valley with no clue what to do.
There are two problems with this though, although both are debatable. Firstly, as I’ve just mentioned, it will be over in no time at all. The Back to the Future season has featured Telltale’s shortest episodes, and the tradition continues here. Unlike episode two however, where it felt like things were cut at the last minute, episode three fits together perfectly. You will be sad that it’s over so quickly, but you will leave satisfied. This came as a relief, as I was worried that Telltale wouldn’t be able to recreate the satisfaction that I felt after finishing every episode of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse again.
Secondly, the puzzles flow perfectly too, and that means that the majority are very easy. Most of them you will solve quickly with just a bit of experimentation rather than brainpower, but that isn’t really a criticism unless you expect that from your adventure games. If you want difficult puzzles look elsewhere, but if you want puzzles that are fun to solve, Citizen Brown has you covered.
There’s only two things I’m allergic to – dogs and disco.
Back to the Future Episode 3: Citizen Brown is easily the best, most fun episode of the season so far. The whole episode feels polished and carefully plotted, not just in regard to the story but the puzzles too. The only problems stem from it being far too short and far too easy, but the puzzles are at least fun to get through.
The story continues to get more twisted, and every time it’s looked like Marty and Doc have sorted things out something else goes wrong. I know what they have to do, but at this point I’ve no idea how they’re going to accomplish it – and I’m absolutely itching to find out. For a Back to the Future fan like me, Telltale couldn’t realistically have done better.
Story getting really great, more polished, moves smoothly.
Still too short, only a few puzzles.