Exploring a fully re-created Tardis and then facing off against the Daleks in virtual reality… it’s the stuff Whovian’s dreams are made of, right? Well, it’s what you’ll get to do in Doctor Who: The Edge of Time – the new adventure based around the famous Time Lord’s adventures that has just launched on virtual reality headsets.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time puts you in the role of the Doctor’s companion, but not a familiar one you would’ve seen in the series – instead, you’re just an unfortunate soul who finds themselves dragged from their local launderette in an effort to help save the universe from some evil time-hacking threat. The Doctor herself has found herself trapped in some far-off dimension too, so it’s up to you to find some Time Crystals and save everybody. Tough job, right? Well, fortunately you’ve got an AI replica of the Doctor to help you out along the way, so you won’t be working alone.
One thing I have to praise Doctor Who: The Edge of Time for is its authenticity and eye for detail. The script itself is packed with the quirkiness and charm that you’d expect from the TV series, whilst having Jodie Whittaker on board to reprise her role as the Doctor is undeniably neat. Even the series’ opening sequence is impressively re-created in virtual reality, which is something that will surely bring a smile to any Doctor Who fan’s face. Whether it’s when using the Sonic Screwdriver to solve puzzles, entering the Tardis for the first time, or encountering the deadly Daleks, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time deserves praise for offering such an immersive and authentic Doctor Who experience.
Gameplay-wise, the player is sent to an assortment of locales and tasked with exploring the environment, solving puzzles, and then finding the Time Crystal in that area. It’s a basic premise that’s easy enough to follow, whilst action-sequences and even horror-like moments re-create some of the thrills from the TV series. You might not necessarily associate Doctor Who with horror, but believe me, there’ll be some moments in the gamethat will really give you the heebie-jeebies.
The problem is, the gameplay never feels all that exciting. The puzzles are varied in design, but they’re always easy to solve and don’t do anything I haven’t seen before in virtual reality – the fact that you’re given a hint how to solve each puzzle almost immediately doesn’t help either, with the player given little chance to just get stuck in themselves. Even the action-focused sequence is on-rails and just features basic shooting, which is a bit of a shame because it could’ve been the highlight of the whole package (I won’t spoil it here). It’s almost as if the game just wants you to feel like you’re part of an easy going Doctor Who experience as opposed to a challenging one – it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it might leave some gamers feeling a little underwhelmed.
It doesn’t help that movement in the game is so slow. The game features both teleportation and smooth movement, so there’s something here for both virtual reality newbies and veterans – if you use smooth movement though, you’ll have to deal with both an incredibly slow movement and turning speed. There are multiple speed settings in place, but even the highest is too slow. It’s a shame because the environments themselves all look great, especially the Tardis, but exploring them can feel like a bit of a burden.
It also has some other flaws, such as the frequent loading screens and the graphic pop-in that occurs in some of the larger areas. Neither of these are game-breaking issues by any stretch of the imagination, but they were certainly noticeable during the game’s roughly two-hour runtime. That might seem short to some but it felt meaty enough in-game, and besides, it’s longer than a typical Doctor Who TV episode so I can’t complain too much.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time offers an authentic virtual reality experience that manages to capture the vibe of the show perfectly, whether that’s with the quirky script, the impressive Tardis, or simply re-creating the fear that the Daleks strike in every Whovian’s heart.
From a gameplay perspective though, it plays things a bit too safe. There isn’t much of a challenge to be found across the puzzles or action sequences, and there’s also nothing here that PlayStation VR gamers wouldn’t have seen before. I did enjoy the surprisingly effective scares though, but also couldn’t ignore some of the more frustrating issues such as the slow movement speed, frequent loading screens and graphical pop-in.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of Doctor Who: The Edge of Time will come down to how much of a fan of the series you are. If you love the Doctor’s adventures, you won’t want to miss out on this fan-service fuelled adventure – if you’re just here for the gameplay experience alone though, you might just find yourself feeling a little underwhelmed.
Developer: Maze Theory
Platform(s): PlayStation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
Check out the official website through this link.