Episode 4 of Back to the Future: The Game is both exciting and bittersweet. It is exciting because it continues to feature the great writing and fun, intuitive puzzles that episode 3 brought to the table, yet bittersweet because it marks the approach of the end of the series. Sadly, the same flaws from previous episodes are still here, so if you weren’t won over by them, this one probably isn’t going to change your mind.
Gameplay, audio, and graphics are exactly the same as last month’s iteration. That is to say, the graphics are cartoonish and passable, the audio is vintage Back to the Future, and the gameplay remains as good as the previous episode in that the puzzles are fun, creative, and intuitive, without being as offensively simple as the first two episodes.
However, this episode’s greatest success is its story. While it has been fairly interesting for Back to the Future fans since the first episode, the story really came into its own in episode 3, with its 1984-inspired police state version of Hill Valley and numerous fun plot threads to work through. This trend continues throughout episode 4, which provides a number of great dramatic moments and solid laughs and provides an amusing but also critically important goal to work towards. However, throughout the latest episode, players are asked to question whether or not that goal is really the best possible outcome (or even if there is a best possible outcome). A twist in the final moments sends the story spiraling into a wildly interesting and unexpected moral gray area (think Chrono Cross). It sets things up for a finale that will truly keep players involved and guessing to the end. The preview of episode 5 offers a few foreboding bits of dialogue and hints at what players will be asked to do, but as of now, how things will pan out remains one giant, irresistible question mark.
There really isn’t much to say beyond that. If you’re invested in this series already, this episode is absolutely going to deliver. If you’re not a fan of Back to the Future or the previous episodes, it’s not going to change your mind. However, if you’ve been on the fence or weren’t sure that the series was going to deliver on its potential, now might just be the best time to jump in, with the climax on the cusp of release and the story panning out to be much more than it initially seemed.