Considering myself a fan of Family Guy and Seth MacFarlane in general, I was intrigued upon the announcement of Back to the Multiverse and being able to control series favorites Stewie and Brian as they travel through the Multiverse. Seemingly created for die-hard fans, Back to the Multiverse contains awful offensive and racist jokes around every corner, which are only spoken for the sheer shock value of them. Recurring gags from the show are carried over such as Meg getting ripped on anytime she appears, Brian smoking when he gets a chance and even Peter gets to battle against the Giant Chicken.
Bertram, Stewie’s half brother, has gotten hold of a Multiverse Remote made famous in the “Road to the Multiverse” episode and plans to travel the Multiverse amassing an army to kill Stewie once and for all. It certainly sounds like it could be the basis for a Family Guy episode, but then you realize Stewie and Brian are utilizing an arsenal of weaponry to slaughter hundreds of nameless characters through a rather short and disappointing narrative. Each level is based off a different theme such as the Evil Santa universe, in which the North Pole has been converted into a weapons factory due to everyone in the world buying Christmas gifts online, as well as a Quadriplegic level with every character handicapped in one way or another.
Through each of the levels you will find yourself doing the same thing, running from Point A to Point B, killing everything in sight and disabling alarms or hitting various switches to reach the next area. Secondary objectives have you collecting items to unlock bonus materials, but they aren’t enticing enough to play through the game a second time, if you missed some the first time through.
Much like the Lego titles, dying doesn’t have any real consequence throughout most of the game, until you reach the final boss where the difficulty spikes tremendously. Upon death, you lose a small amount of cash and spawn relatively close to where you died. Strangely enough, I was surprised to not see Death appear or hear any of his dialogue from the show, although he does appear in a couple of the levels. A sorely missed opportunity.
Playing co-op with a friend alleviates some of the frustration with the game since it will take you less time to beat the levels than it takes playing by yourself, but the hard part is convincing someone else to play the game with you. The bare-bones – local-only – competitive multiplayer only supports up-to four players and doesn’t allow bots to fill in empty spots. The maps are way too big for the small amount of players and spawn camping becomes a major problem as there are only a couple different spawn points for each team – most of the time I ended up spawning at the same exact spot.
While the show’s humor for the most part revolves around cutaway gags and flashbacks; Back to the Multiverse contains neither of those. Brian and Stewie banter back and forth throughout the game, but the majority of the dialogue is recycled lines straight from the show that feel out of place. Every time Stewie picks up a health item he says, “Ah, the breakfast thing.” While I knew exactly the episode the dialogue was from, in relation to the game, it has no bearing on the action on-screen. Even if you do recognize the line, it still doesn’t fit since, it was from the episode when the Griffin’s became a reality TV show with Stewie talking to the camera about knocking his breakfast on the floor. Unless he is eating the Band-Aid box, I fail to see the connection.
Even as a fan of the show, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the reason for this game to exist. Back to the Multiverse is nothing more than a string of some of the worst and most offensive dialogue from the show wrapped around a poorly implemented third-person action game. It doesn’t appeal to me and I’m a fan of the show. The game even took a jab at itself with the last line in the game mentioning how you shouldn’t expect a sequel since it won’t sell well enough to warrant one. Heavy Iron Studios might be breaking the fourth wall, but at least they are honest.
Note: The Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse review was written based on the PS3 version of the game.