Back to the Future: Back in Time

A cooperative adventure game.

After the fantastic experience of Pan Am by the same designer studio and publisher, I was tempering my expectations for Back to the Future: Back in Time, for two reasons: one, I like the films but I’m not a huge fan, and two, I’m not really a big fan of co-ops. But once again I was entertained and impressed by the quality of gameplay and production by Prospero Hall and Funko Games. Back to the Future: Back in Time is a lot of fun.

As characters Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Lorraine and—err, the dog—you’ll run around the 1955 town of Hill Valley trying to get Marty’s parents to fall in love, fit the right parts to the time-travelling DeLorean, and get the car to the right spot at 10.04pm to accelerate to 88mph and restore the timeline. Each character has a collection of tiles that double up as either movement actions or dice rolls of particular types to meet dice challenges, and you can get more special tiles as the game progresses. This ingeniously dictates the number of actions you have each turn, and also means lots of juicy decisions about how you use your finite supply of tiles.

While this is going on, thematic events and obstructions are popping up all over the board. There’s an escalating level of ‘trouble’ represented by three decks, but worst of all there’s Marty’s nemesis Biff, who is constantly trying to chase after Marty’s parents and thwart their romance. Defeat is cleverly represented by a board on which the photo of Marty and his siblings is broken up into tiles; as victory slips away you turn over these tiles to show their images disappearing …

That ‘love meter’ represents perfectly how every element of this game is beautifully themed and redolent of the original movie. And of course, the graphic design is absolutely spot on. The choice to use illustrations in a kind of Hergé Tin Tin style is brilliant, the colours and typography are stunning—evoking the 50s period without being too cornily retro—and the production (with the exception of the very thin player mats) is top quality. They even put a toy DeLorean in the game. And yet somehow the game is priced far lower than most games these days; I don’t know how they do it, but it’s amazing value.

And most importantly, even for someone not really into co-ops like me, the game is heaps of fun. We were lucky to squeak through a win on our first run-through, but we had some lucky rolls and card draws, and I can tell the level of challenge here is just right. There are lots of fun decisions and plans to be made about how to use your limited supply of tiles, whether to beat challenges, stop trouble cards, get Marty’s parents together to raise the love meter, stop Biff from throwing a spanner into their romance, moving the DeLorean—the list goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Prospero Hall and Funko are hitting it out of the park lately, and this is another winner. If you’re a fan of the film this is a no-brainer purchase, but even if you’re not, check it out as a fun, beautifully produced, and engaging co-op.

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Update Log

Date Version Changelog
Nov 2021 1.1 Added missing Trouble Challenge section
Dec 2020 1 Original release

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