From the Edge of Time to the Edge of Reality, The Doctor gets into more misadventures.
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Developer: Maze Theory Ltd,
Just Add Water Ltd
Publisher: Maze Theory Ltd,
Another Indie, Neon Doctrine
Release date: 13 Oct, 2021
Depending if you are talking about the classic or the modern Doctor Who will impact which Doctor I will class as my favourite. From the classic era, it has to be the Fourth Doctor although that is mostly because I have the misfortune of not really getting a chance to see the first and second one. The BBC channel we had sadly only aired the Third Doctor through the Seventh on its loop. I have managed to see a few of the first and second Doctor adventures but with many of them being lost to time or otherwise not available, I have to go with the Fourth. From the modern era, the Tenth Doctor is my favourite. With the Tenth making an appearance in The Edge of Time/Reality I knew I had to pick it up. Also, with the events of the Thirteenth Doctor’s Timeless Children, I am not sure how factually accurate it is to call the Doctors by their numbers anymore, but I will assume you know who I mean. It’s starting to get a bit chilly out so I best don my colourful scarf as we go off to procure some jelly babies, allons-y.
Regrettably, I do not currently have access to a Virtual Reality headset so I was never actually able to play Doctor Who: The Edge of Time. Fortunately, Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality appears to be a non-VR version of Doctor Who: The Edge of Time although I am currently unable to personally verify if there are any differences. Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality has the Thirteenth Doctor trapped and you, a random person who happened to be doing their laundry at the time, are the only person who can save the Doctor… and the universe in general.
The game itself is relatively short if you are good at puzzles and can quickly figure out solutions, however, it might take a little more time if you are not. The game does help you solve the puzzles as you go along by giving you verbal clues, so people of any puzzle solving skill level should be able to enjoy it. The game can get a bit annoying or distracting at times when it spams the same dialogue repeatedly as it waits for you to perform the action wants, however, sometimes you are too busy searching for hidden items to move on. There are tons of pages and trinkets for you to find and collect. The pages give you information and the trinkets are just fun to look at and see if you can remember the episode they are from.
The game suffers from being in the dark a bit too much which makes it difficult to find things, however, that is probably the point to create challenges and make the game last a little longer. You do get a flashlight which has a blacklight setting to help you both see in the dark as well as look for clues. It is used quite a bit especially in the earlier levels. You also get access to the Thirteenth Doctor’s sonic screw driver which oddly enough doesn’t seem overpowered in the game. It is mostly used to perform simple tasks like turning something on or opening a lock. You also have the ability to pick up random objects, however, most of them are just inventory clutter not really used much.
Let’s talk about the gameplay a bit. You play as a companion of convenience to the Doctor. You aid her in her quest by collecting time crystals in three separate times and places. Each of these places has their own unique challenges for you to overcome. I won’t spoil any of the puzzles, they are easy to solve with the hints given in the game, but I would like to talk about some of the things you encounter in the game. I have to say the creepy Weeping Angels area was very enjoyable although quite short. Having to find your way through the maze while keeping an eye on the angels was quite fun. Hearing the scraping of the statues as they move when you lose sight of them. You also get a chance to be a Dalek of sorts which turns the game into a bit of a shooter rather than a puzzle/adventure game. Oddly enough, despite not having the ability to jump, you still have a platforming section too. Every area you encounter is mildly maze like but generally it isn’t too hard to find where you are going or what you are looking for.
The rating on this game is actually lower than I wanted to give it. I in fact did enjoy this game quite a bit, however, it is quite buggy to the point of game breaking at times and the save system leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that can be fixed over time, but for the time being, I feel compelled to tell it like it is. You will find yourself in a position where interacting with an object is either impossible or very difficult and fiddly. There are a few cases I could mention, but the biggest offender was the collecting of the three artifacts as they rotate around you in amongst the clutter. It was easy to identify which object you needed to grab, but pointing at it and clicking did nothing. The first object was a clock I clicked on countless times before it counted as collected, the second item, a tablet I never could get it to collect even after over 10 minutes of trying. This led me to quit the game and come back to it later to try again. The next time all three items collected easily. Had I known I was encountering a bug rather than a challenge, I would have tried that sooner, but the save system also prevented me from wanting to try that. Looking it up online, I can see that the item collection bug is rather common, especially affecting the tablet, so it is a bug that will need ironed out with patching. There was also a bug in the library section where you burned books, if you burned the wrong book, they do respawn… or at least they are supposed to. Changing between timelines, waiting in general, etc. often caused the books to not respawn making progress impossible. Now I can hear you saying, just save more often and then reload your save before you burned the wrong book! Obvious solution there! However, that’s where my concerns with the save system lay. The game only has auto-save, there is no quick or user input saves. That’s fine, however, auto-save only saves at the beginning of a new stage. This means everything you do between stage changes, doesn’t save if you quit before completing the current stage. All dialogue will need repeating, all hidden items refound, all puzzles redone. Sure, you can quickly relocate things you already found and redo puzzles once you know the solution, but it is still quite time consuming. Such as the library level, you have to hunt through town to find the place and even if you remember where it was, you still have to walk a lot, unlock the gate, walk more, pick up all hidden things, enter the building walk up stairs, walk up more stairs, collect more things, pass through a time change, find items, play the long message, change time a couple more times, solve the puzzle, find the four books to try again. Then unless you keep going, solve the next puzzle and press on, probably through the entire next part of the level (unless it does save there, I didn’t chance it), finding your way through the maze while being hunted until you return to the TARDIS and complete the stage. If you encounter any bugs, crashes, power outages, life events, etc. before completing the stage, you are right back to the start again next time. Also, I had a one time save glitch that actually reset my progress back to almost the start of the game when I was in the Dalek area, it for some reason reloaded back to the first time I visited the TARDIS. The next time through went fine, not sure what was up with that. Speaking of the Dalek area, that area seemed to either be buggy or oddly forgiving and excessively hand holding. As you progressed through the part where you were a pseudo-Dalek, if you get yourself destroyed or fall in a hole, the game seems to fast forward you further into the level, rather than back to where you were or an earlier checkpoint. I am not entirely sure if I got the full benefit of the level or if I skipped most of it.
The game definitely has a made for VR look and feel to it. Everything looks good, the inside of the TARDIS was quite detailed, each of the levels had lot of interesting things to look at (assuming you could see them in the dark). The inside of the Dalek was a bit hard to see, especially when your vision is being impaired by damage, but I did enjoy the Dalek eye effect. When the game isn’t bugging, the objects you need to interact with often have a bit of a glow or better detailed look to them to help you identify them. It’s worth taking the time to look around to find all the hidden items and details each of the levels has.
With the voice actors of the Thirteenth and Tenth Doctor reprising their roles as the Doctor as well as the supporting cast, the voice work in the game was very enjoyable. Sure, the repeated lines got tiresome, but it was still nice to have them there. The various enemies sounded like they did in the shows, other than the Weeping Angels who don’t actually have the ability to talk on their own… although their voice (maybe their victim’s voice) was quite creepy in the game. The subtle sound effects and atmospheric effects really help the enjoyment of the game. As mentioned earlier, the Weeping Angels moving around when you can’t see them was quite eerie and the jump scare like trill really added to the effect. The Daleks and Cybermen both sounded like their televised counterparts.
Controls and User Interface
The controls for the game were simple enough and there were a minimal number of keystrokes needed to perform all actions. The User Interface on the other hand left something to be desired. In what is likely a mixture of coding and bugs, the ability to interact with objects can sometimes be temperamental. You can see what you want to interact with then you have to make fine adjustments to your mouse location until the game registers that you are trying to interact with something and then it will give you the option to do so. If the object is stationary, it isn’t so bad just very fiddly, but if it is in motion, it can get really quite annoying to the point of being nearly, if not, impossible. Reloading your save will often lead to the game’s user interface to start working properly again, at least for a little while, but the progress loss makes you more willing to put up with it for as long as you can rather than have to redo everything.
The last part I would like to talk about in the User Interface could also have gone into the Audio section, and that is the hint system. The game needs to give you a break here. It will excessively remind you of what you have to do and also will help you solve it. I feel it shouldn’t start helping you solve the puzzle until you ask for help. Like for example (and this was a bug too) there is a picture above the fireplace that shows the life cycle of a firefly if you are in the correct time period. I was not in the correct time period, yet it said to look over the fireplace and talked about bugs and placing the books in the order of the life cycle of the firefly. That’s all fine and dandy, but I was never really given a chance to figure it out on my own. I was too busy looking for hidden items (and seeing if I could get the fez in the one time period). The game gave me at best 30 seconds, felt more like 10 seconds, to look around the room, collect the books, look at the paintings and solve the puzzle before blowing the entire puzzle and solution for me. The game seems to hate the quite times and will spam the same dialogue lines repeatedly ad nauseum when it has nothing better to do. It reminded me of Navi from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time level of pestering.
So, should you pick up Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality? If you already played the VR version, it is unfortunate but I am not sure what this new game offers that the other did not. The User Interface was a little off but manageable. If the game offered a better checkpoint saving system the bugs encountered would be more of a minor inconvenience than complaint worthy. The story was fun and it made it feel like you were part of a Doctor Who episode. If you are a die hard Whovian, then you probably would like to play this game. If you are not, then I am sure you could still have enjoyment here, but I feel like you would be missing out not being familiar with the series. If the game continues to get patches and the issues I faced resolved, I could see this being quite a fun Doctor Who adventure in both VR and stand alone. It is very short, and other than trying to figure out what you missed and where, it isn’t a game that lends itself to replaying much, but then again, reruns of Doctor Who are still enjoyable. I’ve finished it once, but didn’t manage to find all the collectables despite trying my best. Perhaps I will Save for Later until I can replay it in a more stable state.