Thursday, June 23, 2011

Double Visions Review

Double Visions is the fourth episode of the episodic Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games.  After a troubled start, with the first two episodes being criticized for a lack of originality in puzzles and numerous bugs, things started to seem to be getting better with Episode 3: Citizen Brown.  Unfortunately, Double Visions takes many step backwards.

This game takes place in two different time eras, the Citizen Brown alternate 1986, and 1931.  The beginning section in the alternate 1986 is excellent, and the cutscene of the Marty and Citizen Brown escape is choreographed so well it actually felt like a scene from the film.  However, the rest of the game is spent in 1931, and the game goes downhill fast from here.  I do like 1931.  I enjoy the characters of young Emmet and young Edna a lot.  However, while 1931 seemed fresh and exciting in episode 1, it's gotten really dull by this point.  Telltale did try to liven things up by having new locations.  The new locations are Emmet's new lab, and the technology of the future presentation at the Hill Valley High School.  The problem is that these are the only two locations for the majority of the game.  The puzzles have Marty going back and forth between the two locations, which becomes very tedious very quickly.

The main problem is that there are some bugs in these two locations that make them very frustrating.  I had to turn on pop up text because the clickable areas for objects were incorrect.  I'd often find Marty leaving Doc's lab rather than interacting with an object, since the clickable area for the door extended too far into the lab.  Turning on the pop up text revealed where the clickable area was, but that was a bandage rather than a solution since pop up text is supposed to be an optional feature.  The most frustrating location was the highschool.  Often I'd try to leave the area and I'd bump into Trixie who was pacing at the bottom of the screen.   This would trigger a conversation with Trixie, even though I did not press any button to make this happen.  With her walk path being right where Marty needed to be, this happened to me quite a few times.  Another very annoying bug is that there was an instance where there was no voice and only subtitles.  This was frustrating to me when I played with subtitles turned on, since it broke the story's hold on me.  With the subtitles turned off, it would be even more frustrating, since you would actually miss a part of the dialog.

On the plus side, the puzzles have more variety this time.  I enjoyed the puzzle where Marty had to find a way to leave the highschool.  The puzzle with Emmet's invention actually stumped me, and I had to end up looking up a hint.  It is nice to see Telltale adding variety and a harder difficulty level to the puzzles.  The art design, voices, and music are all top notch once again as well.  It's a shame there aren't any new characters in this game, however.  The returning characters are the ones that I enjoyed the most in the previous games, but new characters would have went a long way to making the return visit to 1931 a lot more enjoyable.

After an excellent third episode, it's a shame this game took such a huge step backwards.  The framing sections are fun, at the beginning and end of the game.  However, it really drags in the middle.  There are only two locations for the majority of the game, and those locations are riddled with bugs.  The puzzles are more fun this time, and the music, voices, and art design are top notch as usual.  However, there are no new characters introduced (nor are there any new alternate versions of characters already seen), and although the characters that are in the game are the most interesting of those seen so far, they are not enough to carry the game on their own.  The ending sets up the final episode excellently, as usual.  But, in the end, that's all that this episode seems to be: a way to set things up for the much more ambitious finale.

Update: 12/1/15: Since I wrote this review, a remaster called the 30th Anniversary Edition has been released. The improved textures aren't really that noticeable, however they also managed to get Tom Wilson to reprise his role as Biff. Biff only appears in a silent cameo in this episode, but since the episodes are only available as a package deal, if you want to play it, it's worth getting the remaster if you've never played the game before. If you've already played it, it's not really worth picking up again, unless you're a big Back to the Future fan.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

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