There’s something exaggeratedly British about Doctor Who’s brand of science fiction, with its focus on the cerebral above the brawny, and its foppish protagonist who’d sooner talk his way out of a tight situation than resort to violence.
That’s presumably why puzzles and mini-games are the order of the day in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, Super Massive Games’ attempt to bring the enigmatic Doctor to console gamers. And whilst it’s a little flawed, and at times horribly frustrating, there’s enough here for fans of the series to get their teeth into.
The game takes you through four different periods in London’s history, from a storm rattled Elizabethan grain store, through a smog choked Victorian wool mill, a present day Cyberman invasion, and a distant future London that’s been all but annihilated by the Daleks. You’ll also have to face off against Silurians and, in one of the game’s more inspired set pieces, sneak past a group of The Silence whilst making sure you keep at least one of them in your eyeline at all times.
You control either the Doctor, complete with his Sonic Screwdriver, or, after breaking out of the Stormcage prison, River Song, who wields a reasonably ineffectual blaster. You hop between time zones, solving puzzles in one to change things in another. It’s a clever (if obvious) system, and means you get to see the consequences of your time-line meddling actions.
At the core of The Eternity Clock lies some pretty simple platforming. You’ll bound around, pushing switches, stealthily creeping past enemies and clambering up shattered buildings. There are times when your leaps don’t quite work, but more often that not getting to where you need to go is a reasonably hassle free experience.
Once you get there, there’ll be a mini-game puzzle to complete. These range from pipe-mania style pressure release tasks to futuristic hacking games that need you to protect four nodes from red blocks of data while letting the blue blocks pass. None of them are particularly tasking, but they’re entertaining enough, and there are enough variations, that their constant presence never quite annoys.
The Eternity Clock does have some nice ideas, and it’s presented reasonably well too. The voice over performances from Matt Smith and Alex Kingston, reprising their roles from the TV show, are particularly good, and whilst the graphics sometimes look a little dreary, there are some real stand out moments that show the imagination and talent of the team behind the game.
It isn’t going to convert anyone to the Doctor Who cause, and if you’re not a fan of the television series, then it’s best that you give the game a wide berth, but those with even a basic knowledge of the time-travelling Gallifreyan will find a lot to like here.
It’s clumsy in places, and it’s pacing isn’t perfect, but the story is strong enough to drag fans from set piece to set piece, and when the inevitable cliff hanger ending rolls around, you’ll know whether you’re a true Doctor Who devotee depending on how anxious you are to find out what happens next.