Review – Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

I had never heard of Doctor Who before moving to England back in 2009. It was basically impossible to resist the urge of watching at least one episode of the long-lasting show, as well as Top Gear, back in those days, as everyone in school would talk about it. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the series, but I do have an appreciation for it. Everything from its setting, characters, sense of humor, and most importantly, the fact that it’s been going on for more than half a century, with the whole world now being a fan of it. Doctor Who games are few and far between, but the latest offering, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, grabbed my attention as its developer was promising to bring the rich world of the series to virtual reality. I was just wondering if it would pay off or if it would feel like yet another cheap cash grab for VR systems, like Planet of the Apes and Angry Birds did before it.

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Fanservice time!

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time doesn’t let you play as the Doctor per se. Instead, you control a regular simpleton tasked with finding the Doctor by collecting a handful of time crystals, and then stopping a reality-bending evil force with the help of her abilities. It might seem a bit off-putting, as you don’t play as the franchise’s main character, but it makes a lot of sense. Considering that this is a virtual reality product, the developers wouldn’t have been able to use Jodie Whittaker’s likeness in a first-person outing. Relegating the Doctor as a mentor of sorts, telling you where to go and giving you hints if you’re stuck on a puzzle, ended up being a great fit for the character, with Jodie delivering a fantastic performance, full of witty lines and an overall cheerful personality, just like her version of the Doctor on TV.

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Meet VR Jodie Whittaker.

As a game itself, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is your typical first-person puzzler for VR. It’s far from being a revolutionary title, but I’ve seen worse. You walk through linear levels, solve some puzzles with your motion controls, then proceed to the next set where you’ll do the same thing. Most of the puzzles are pretty simple, consisting mostly of grabbing an object and then using the show’s famous Sonic Screwdriver on it, but some of them are pretty clever, often involving deciphering codes written on walls or having to deal with multiple lasers in multiple rooms in order to activate a ton of switches all at the same time. That’s when the game shines. There are some good puzzles in here, but that leads to one of the major flaws in this game.

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That jolly old British sense of humour.

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is a very short game. It might not be as criminally brief as other VR games like Batman Arkham VR, but I doubt it lasts for longer than a handful of episodes from the show. The more interesting puzzles usually show up at the end of each level, when things start to become interesting. I know you can’t make long virtual reality experiences in VR without risking the user becoming a dangerous vomit machine, but I feel like the game could have had a couple more levels in order to feel a bit meatier.

Another issue lies in the gameplay. Once again, this is another victim of the lack of analog sticks on the Move controllers. If you press the main Move button on the left controller, you move forward or backwards, depending on the position of your wand, with the face buttons acting as 45-degree camera shifts. If you press the Move button on the right controller, you teleport to a spot in front of you. The triggers act as your typical interaction buttons, with the right trigger usually reserved to the Sonic Screwdriver. You can also play the game with a Dualshock control, but the movement becomes more sluggish, and the camera controls are so bad they made me feel sick pretty quickly. I have never felt as sick with a VR game like this before. Not even Farpoint or Doom VFR managed to upset my stomach as much as this game did when I had the stupid idea of testing it with the Dualshock.

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Are we back to Bloodborne’s Yarnham?

At the end of the day, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time feels like a theme park attraction. You step into the ride, interact with pre-recorded footage of a famous actor telling you that only you can save the world, do a few mundane tasks, and then it’s over. It’s a game with good visuals and a fantastic performance by Jodie Whittaker. However, it doesn’t innovate at all when it comes to its gameplay and its duration is far too short for something based on such a long-lasting franchise. With that being said, it’s a decent licensed product and most certainly the best Doctor Who game out there. Just make sure to play with a pair of Move controllers.

 

Graphics: 8.5

Some environments, such as inside of the TARDIS, are well-detailed and provide a sensation as if you were part of a Doctor Who episode. The other environments aren’t as exciting to explore, but they are still well-crafted and full of interactive objects. The framerate is also rock-solid.

Gameplay: 6.0

Your standard VR puzzle fare: walk around, interact with some characters via the radio, push a few buttons, and solve some puzzles. Controlling the game with the Move controllers is a bit cumbersome at first, but functional. Controlling the game with the Dualshock will make you vomit in minutes.

Sound: 9.0

The famous Doctor Who theme song is present in here, with the rest of the soundtrack being decent at best. Jodie Whittaker’s cheerful and upbeat performance is fantastic, being easily the game’s highlight.

Fun Factor: 6.0

There are a few clever puzzles here and there, but what makes this game so special is the amount of fanservice it provides. It’s basically an interactive Doctor Who episode, and sadly, it isn’t much longer than one of the show’s special episodes.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is available now on PSVR and PC.

Reviewed on PSVR.

A copy of Doctor Who: The Edge of Time was provided by the publisher.

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