Much to my own geekery, I am not a big Doctor Who fan. I lost interest over age, where I just couldn’t get involved with the newer series, due to their low-budget props, sets and rinse and repeat storytelling. Although its more modern series has certainly increased their set and effect budgets that have grown worldwide appeal, it still fails to lure me back into the whole Doctor Who universe.
The geek nature of Doctor Who and gaming, in general, is a perfect match that has been embraced across a number of videogames over the years, with very few ventures into the VR space. With VR’s slow-growing adoption and with the first female lead playing the role of the Doctor, it is a perfect time to tread in new territory with the release of Doctor Who The Edge of Time on to Oculus Rift and more recently, the Oculus Quest.
The game begins with you standing in a rather grim London launderette. This may not be the most flamboyant of environments to kick things off with, but this is the quirky storytelling of Doctor Who that I have learned to accept. The story unfolds as the Doctor contacts you through the launderette’s telephone and a TV screen that are located around you. After experiencing your first-time glitch, you soon learn that a reality virus is corrupting past present and future of the universe. The Doctor has been kidnapped at the edge of time and space, and with you now appointed as the Doctor’s new and only companion that can help her, you have to visit a number of time periods and locations to recover three Time Crystals and save the Doctor and, as per usual, the universe.
Along the way, you’ll encounter a number of familiar faces including aliens from the past series’ of Doctor Who, such as the creepy Angels, and of course, it wouldn’t be a Doctor Who game without the Daleks showing up too. The Doctor herself only takes form as a hologram of head and shoulders inside the Tardis. Voiced by the actress, Jodie Whittaker, who certainly manages to capture the same quirkiness as her role in the TV series.
The majority of the game has you exploring various locations and time periods, whilst solving some fairly simple puzzles throughout this game’s 2+ hours of gameplay. The game has an odd mix of being completely hand-held along the way, whilst also dropping you into a situation where you have no idea what you have to do. After some time you’ll soon be told what you need to look for, pick up, zap with your sonic screwdriver or interact with. It’s just a shame you are not told this at the very beginning. Instead, you are left poking and prodding the environment as you look around to figure out what you have to do to progress the story forward.
The lack of onboarding and also progression with the game’s lightweight puzzles are also hindered with a number of frustrating bugs in the game. I found a number of times I would walk out of bounds of the game far too easily where I would face a black screen as a result. Also, the game’s progression would only trigger correctly until I was either in the right spot or interacted with an object for the second or third time.
Playing the game on the Oculus Quest has had had its visuals fairly dialled down, which without shadows it can make some of the environments appear quite flat, dull and a bit muddy and boring overall. It’s not until you find yourself down in the dark basement corridors, along with the creepy Angels, that the visual fidelity becomes very fitting and somewhat acceptable, but compared to its cross-buy Rift version, its visuals have been lost that it loses its overall impact. But we have to come to expect this on the Quest’s mobile hardware.
From the game’s intro music, through to the atmosphere of the world around you, the sounds in this game are decent. All of the characters from the Doctor, friends as well as some of the talkative aliens have all been voice acted by their TV counterparts. This all helps to immerse you into the game’s work. It just a shame that the overall story and key gameplay elements mostly come across as a little dull and less as exciting as the overall presentation.
If you are a true die-hard fan of the Doctor Who series, there are a few hours worth of gameplay to scratch the itch of living and breathing a Doctor Who adventure. Key highlights include facing the Angles, picking up a sonic screwdriver and facing the series’ other key characters face to face in VR is certainly a journey worth experiencing. But for someone that isn’t as much of a fan, you may find the price of entry a little too high to warrant the overall quality of its puzzles and experiences that you will encounter in this game.