by Chris Capel
reviewed on PC
“Science should be messy and unpredictable, otherwise, where’s the fun in it?”
Regarding the puzzles in this episode, there are once again none that will really have you guessing… unless you have missed something. In fact that happened to me several times this episode. Despite knowing exactly how to complete a puzzle I was disallowed to because I did not have the item I needed yet, or had not clicked in the right place. I know it is a staple of the adventure game and one I am used to, but to be honest, it is particularly annoying here because there are so few places to actually go. You will have discovered puzzles long before your ability to complete them.
One particular puzzle in Young Emmett’s lab is actually made aggravating simply by poor design. Up until this point there has not been tiny-sized interactive points in any of Telltale’s games. This stood for a very good reason: “pixel hunting” in adventure games is one of the worst things about the genre, meaning the only way to find some key point of interest is by scrolling the mouse all over the screen.
This particular puzzle requires players to click on two tiny buttons situated on a small machine of Emmett’s. If you press the machine itself you either get a comment by Marty or have to sit through a cutscene of him trying it out. If you miss the buttons Marty will exit the entire area and you have to watch two “traveling” cutscenes before you can return to the lab as the machine is placed right in front of the door. Never has this series or any Telltale episode required such precise selection, which would have been much easier in the old days with item names showing on the screen.
“Just trying to understand the female mind.”
That one annoyance aside though, I did not have much of a problem with this episode in its entirety. The puzzles can be quite satisfying, even if they do end up taking on the classic “three trials” approach done many times since The Secret of Monkey Island twenty years ago. At the very least they have good payoffs, even if your ultimate goal is the destruction of a relationship that is making two people very happy. That is one of the reasons I have learned to love adventure games though – you often have to be a complete and utter dick in them.
I do have to mention that my graphics card had an extreme overreaction to the Anti-Aliasing on a couple of occasions in a way I have never experienced in the first three episodes. As it seems that no one else appears to be having the same trouble I will not mark it off the final score for the game. Other than this anomaly, it was a pretty polished episode.
However, I must admit to being a bit disappointed at the lack of objects to examine throughout the episode. Part of the joy in the best adventure games for me is clicking on lots of random items and hearing the protagonist make some snappy comeback. Telltale are usually good with this, but I felt that with Double Visions they dropped the ball a little. For example, there is even an obvious plaque outside the Science Expo that Marty cannot read.
“Technology for a better tomorrow, and all that.”
Telltale’s Back To The Future series continues to go from strength to strength with its characters, story and writing. It does seem that this has come at a cost to the strength of some other areas that the developer usually excels at. The poor layout of Emmett’s lab, simple puzzles and the lack of some really obvious things to examine certainly seems to point to that.
I am still very much looking forward to finishing the story later this month and can recommend it heartily to Back To The Future fans. I am very relieved that Telltale have postponed Jurassic Park. Sometimes you just need to take your time.
Story continues to hook me and is taking some nice twists, characters also superb and likeable
Short once again, Emmett’s lab poorly designed, pixel hunting, annoying when you can’t solve a puzzle immediately