Back to the Future: The Game (Episode 1)

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Back to the Future: The Game (Episode 1) Game Poster Image
Enjoyable first chapter in movie-based episodic series.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game is about saving your friend, Doc, who is trapped in the past. This isn't sending out a bad message, but the lead character, Marty, isn't squeaky clean (see Role Models section).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marty McFly is a courageous, nice teenager who wants to save his friend, but he swears a bit and steals items -- such as alcohol and a mobster's hat by posing as a shoe shiner.

Ease of Play

This adventure game is very easy to play. Controlling Marty's movements is simple because of limited options (click the mouse and push in a given direction) and selecting dialogue from a list of options is a breeze. Opening the inventory to get items might take a little practice.


There are a few animated scenes of violence, including police and gangsters shooting at each other during a car chase and one scene of someone getting punched in the face.


The game has some language not suitable for young ears, including a few instances of the word "s--t" (spoken by Doc and Biff). Other words include "damn," "hell," "heck" and one instance where Marty says "Jesus Christ, Doc! You disintegrated Einstein!"


This is a game based on the popular movie of the same name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The game includes references to alcohol and cigarettes. In fact, one of your missions is to steal gin from a soup kitchen run by bootleggers. Ms. Strickland looks through binoculars and yells "Hey you kids, put out those cigarettes!" There is also a reference to "drunken bums."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Back to the Future: The Game (Episode 1) isn't rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as it's a digital download, but there are some inappropriate themes and language for younger ears. Specifically, there's swearing, and one of your missions has you stealing alcohol from mobsters at an illegal gin establishment (pretending to be a soup kitchen).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byAdam N. February 12, 2018

Not for kids, despite looking like it

I play games with my daughter who is currently eight years old. We have played some really great, age appropriate titles - Rime, King's Quest, Slime Ranche... Continue reading
Adult Written byvalentinD August 30, 2016

good game

it's okay for the tweens to play with it.
Teen, 16 years old Written byMarty McFly May 30, 2012

Back To The Future 1-5 (The Bad)

Since CSM does not have the rest of the Series Reviews up I will go ahead and state the bad parts here.

1: There is a drunk cop most of the game (3-5)

2: Edn... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byGamersnews32 April 28, 2021

Entertaining adaptation of beloved film franchise

Back to the Future: The Game consists of 5 episodes heavily inspired by the films, while also being a completely new story & narrative, with some new ch... Continue reading

What's it about?

BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE GAME (EPISODE 1) takes place after the three Back to the Future films. Marty McFly (voiced by a Michael J. Fox sound-a-like) travels back in time -- to the dirty thirties, no less -- to rescue his friend Doc (voiced by the real Christopher Lloyd from the film trilogy). McFly uses Doc's souped-up DeLorean, with his faithful dog Einstein, to zap back in time to bring Doc back to the future -- but he runs into some resistance by the police, mobsters, and a younger Ms. Strickland, a peppy newspaper reporter. By solving puzzles, exploring Hill Valley in the 1930s, and interacting with the townsfolk, Marty can complete his ambitious goal -- or can he?

Is it any good?

This first downloadable episode in the 5-part series is an excellent adventure game. The puzzles are thought-provoking but not too challenging. For example, in one scene you need to tell your imprisoned friend Doc about a formula that's being muttered by the younger Doc walking around the town. Because you have a tape recorder, you're able to capture what young Doc is saying and play it back for your friend who is sitting in a jail cell (remember: the two Docs must never cross paths for it could disrupt the time-space continuum!). While on the short side, this first tale in the series is ideal for those who love a good story, have patience to solve puzzles, and enjoy clicking on dialogue to get the info you need from characters. Note: the $24.95 price covers all five games.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether Telltale Games should've made the game more appropriate for everyone instead of for teens and adults. That is, does the swearing really add to the experience?

  • Also, families can also talk about whether they like the idea of episodic games or would you rather have the entire story in one download? Do you mind waiting for Episode 2 if it takes a month or longer?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $24.95
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Release date: December 23, 2010
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love being transported into other worlds

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate