Double Visions has arrived just in time to make good on its 'April' release date, as the fourth episode of Back to the Future: The Game. We're one away from the finale of this season of episodes, and so far it's been a reasonable recreation of the movies, although ranging from bland to intriguing in terms of plot, and easy to 'autopilot' in terms of difficulty. However, as the end approaches, so too does the last chance for this series to break out and become something truly special, so can Double Visions make us take a second look at all of this?
Double Visions follows on directly from the cliffhanger at the end of Citizen Brown, as Marty is trapped in an alternate 1986 where Edna Strickland is attempting to brainwash Doc's alternate version, 'First Citizen Brown'. Trying to spoil as little as possible, we will say that Marty ends up escaping this conundrum along with First Citizen Brown, and together they head back once again to 1931 in order to correct the timeline.
For the most part, this episode fails to capture the same level of intrigue that was found in Citizen Brown, as it introduced the alternate 1986 setting and Doc. This story, like the first episode, once again feels rather bland for the most part, as Marty is faced with traipsing around 1931 again in small, sparsely populated environments. We got a couple of chuckles throughout the four hours it took us to finish this episode, as there are some pretty clever lines thrown in. All we'll say is the game's best moments come when you realise Marty's generally been pretty selfish with his time travel based meddling in the past, and the fact that he's finally called out on this by a certain individual and the divide this creates is actually a pretty insightful and inventive plot point.
Double Visions actually plays a little better than Citizen Brown thanks to a little more inspiration in its puzzle design. In a couple of instances, you'll be placed in situations where you'll have everything you need in the one location, but there's a rhyme and reason as to how you're supposed to use them, rather than just a specific (and rather limited) order as seen in the 'action' sequences of previous episodes. That said, there are a few occasions where you have to use the same solution for a couple of different puzzles, which is fair enough if it's necessary to 'teach' players a certain use for an item, but sometimes the answer is always obvious, Marty's guitar being one example.
While the atmosphere in Double Visions is a little bland overall, involving leisurely strolls to a science fair and the Hill Valley courthouse in sunny 1931, the gameplay's pacing seems to have been improved as well. Telltale's familiar 'solve three puzzles' structure can be seen if you look hard enough, but it seems to react a little to your actions with cut-scenes at key moments, and makes you feel a little less like you're just playing through an interactive movie.
As we're revisiting two time periods we've already seen in Double Visions, the general style of the game isn't anything drastically different, but Telltale do manage to fit in a few new locations, including Hill Valley High School and the Citizen Plus chamber. The voice acting is once again very well produced, although while Christopher Lloyd is still great, he does feel a little more subdued this episode. Unfortunately, there are a lot more bugs in this episode than we've seen in the past, with several very noticeable spelling errors in dialogue options, weird glitching with some objects and characters failing to appear for parts of cut-scenes.
Overall, Double Visions is another 'good' entry into Back to the Future: The Game. It advances the story in an interesting direction, even if it takes a little mucking about in blandness to get there, the puzzles are a little more engaging and fun than they have been in the past and the game generally flows quite well, even if it doesn't feel particularly climactic as we rapidly approach the end of the series. If you've come this far in the Back to the Future episodes, there's no reason to fear this one, just don't expect anything too earth shatteringly-awesome, although at this point that's seeming less and less likely. Just enjoy the general feel-good Back to the Future atmosphere, which the series seems to continually pull off quite well.