In the Back to the Future‘s fourth episode, Double Visions, it’s clear that we’re getting to the end. The small plot segments in previous installments are finally being tied in, action is reaching a fever pitch, and conveniently all the minor characters’ stories are being wrapped up so they’re out o the way for the grand finale.
(As with the rest of our episodic reviews, we’ll avoid spoilers for this episode but have no problems spoiling the previous ones. We’re also not talking about the engine or character designs, since they’re not new from episode to episode. They’re meant to play in order, and you can look at our reviews of the first, second and third episodes for information on those.)
It seems the series likes kicking off episodes with action sequences and crazy plot developments. Most would have these scenes be the ends of the previous parts, and that would even make sense from a narrative standpoint, so to have the wrap-up of the 1985-Edna setting at the beginning of this part (that’s largely about 1931 again) seems a bit strange. It’s possible that Telltale wanted the variety that having both settings in the game brings.
In a design decision that is just starting to bore us, everything centers around a laundry list of objectives for one specific goal. (Last episode, it was the demerits.) What’s most frustrating, we think, is that these goals just aren’t the interesting parts of the world. We know it can work; thinking through it, the first Back to the Future movie was structured in a way that there were multiple goals to getting Marty’s parents to fall in love. The third installment, Citizen Brown, had many alternate-timeline references, and those were great. The beginning piece of Double Visions makes some nice movie references, but the latter arc relies too much on original ideas to really capture that nostalgia.
To try to crank up the sense of urgency (or just possibly to try to make recycled environments look different), Double Visions uses more tight shots and dynamic camera angles. This creates a bit of an old-Sierra feeling, where you enter largely static views where items have carefully-curated places on the screen. If they went all the way with this, it’d be great! As it is, it’s just a bit off, as Marty himself blocks your view or gets stuck trying to navigate these tight, cramped environments.
All that said, the story’s hanging in there, and after playing Double Visions, we’re still excited about the season finale. We’re hoping it’s the best yet, and with the frantic pitch an end can reach, it has a chance.