Doctor Who is a mainstream phenomenon in the UK and a cult hit around the world. It’s enjoyed by millions of people every year when it airs on our TV screens and is one of the BBC’s biggest franchises. Yet, despite its sizeable audience, no Doctor Who game has ever really made a mark.
That’s not for the lack of trying: Sumo Digital’s Doctor Who: The Adventure Games was a valiant effort but was released and quietly canceled without barely a murmur. Supermassive’s attempt, The Eternity Clock trilogy, was canceled after just one installment. Worlds in Time, an MMORPG, was shut down just two years after its launch. There’s a pattern emerging, isn’t there?
All this means I went into a preview build of Doctor Who: The Edge of Time feeling a little apprehensive, desperately wanting a great game that did justice to the show I love so dearly, but not really thinking it would do so. And I’m pleased to report that, while it is flawed, Edge of Time is finally a Doctor Who game that, well, feels like Doctor Who.
It’s a VR title in which you play a friend of The Doctor–who, incidentally, features the likeness and voice of Jodie Whittaker. The style of play changes dramatically from level to level: one mission I played was a horror-themed trudge through an alien forest planet filled with creepy glowy-eyed creatures, while the next section was pure puzzle game based around lasers and light refraction. Later levels, I was told, include a more action/shooter-focused segment in which you control a Dalek shell and a separate encounter with the Weeping Angels, though I didn’t get to play these.
The highlight, however, was piloting the TARDIS. It may have, in reality, been a simple memory puzzle to get the engines whirring away, but there was something very special about stepping inside the Doctor’s iconic ship and pressing its buttons and twisting its knobs (whatever it is they do). It was a moment that reminded me of the power of VR–that if you can suspend your disbelief, you really can get lost in other worlds.
That’s not to say The Edge of Time is perfect–visually, as with many VR games, it leaves much to be desired. And as fun to wield the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver is, it doesn’t allow as much interaction with the game world as I’d like. It can unlock some predesignated doors, for example, but not every door like it would in the show.
In a strange way, however, these issues give Edge of Time a low-budget feel that helps it match the quirky and endearing approach Doctor Who made its name on. Yes, there’s a visual glitch here and there, but the series was once famed for its continuity errors and flimsy sets–it’s part of the charm. What’s more British than trying to be dramatic and just falling short?
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is “coming soon” for PSVR, Oculus, and HTC Vive.