Doctor Who: The Edge of Time PSVR Review- Intergalactic triumph or sonic screw-up?

There is no arguing the Doctor Who is a global phenomenon. Love it or hate it, it can’t be denied that it is one of the most recognisable programs on television. Over its many years of existence, it has attracted a large and dedicated fan base of those who like to call themselves “Whovians” (each to his own!). Like the directors of the final Skywalker saga, films have found, such fan bases claim a certain amount of ownership over their beloved franchise and they are notoriously difficult to please. Developers Maze Theory and publishers Playstack have therefore firmly placed themselves in the “Whovians” crosshairs with Doctor Who: The Edge of Time which I believe is the eponymous Time Lord’s first outing in VR. So have they managed that difficult balancing act of producing a great game and keeping a ferociously loyal fan base happy? Grab your sonic screwdriver and join me in the Tardis to find out.

Gameplay

Doctor Who: Edge of Time starts off in a fairly dull (but beautifully detailed laundrette) but it doesn’t take long for The Doctor to make an appearance. The payphone rings and it’s The Doctor herself asking you for help. She appears on the wall-mounted TV screen and gives you the lowdown on the situation. She explains that she has been kidnapped and stranded at the end of the universe and a terrible virus has been released threatening to tear apart reality itself. Immediately the laundrette changes to what I can only describe as a rip off of Stranger Things’ Upside Down. The washing machines are now incubating horrible slimy aliens which are (allegedly) on the verge of hatching out and attacking you. With the Doctor’s guidance, you flee the laundrette, obtain the sonic screwdriver and escape in the TARDIS becoming The Doctor’s newest assistant. Your quest is to travel through space and time to track down three-time crystals to save reality, the Universe and The Doctor herself. No less than you would expect from a Doctor Who adventure. So far so good. The short section where you travel through the vortex of time following the TARDIS as in the credits of the TV series is pretty cool although it made me feel a tiny bit sick!

The game is played via the move controllers and it is fairly easy and intuitive to move around. You can teleport around the gaming area although it is not always necessary to do so. One criticism of the game is that your character moves painfully slowly and this can be frustrating at times. It is easy to pick up items and manipulate objects to solve puzzles and it is fun to wield the iconic sonic screwdriver. As always make sure you have sufficient playing space around you as you will find yourself twisting in all directions as you move through the levels. This adds to the immersion of the game and it is one of the things that makes VR such a joy to play at times.

Sadly the puzzles aren’t really anything we haven’t seen before and are a bit cliched, such as diverting Lazer beams, rearranging wires on a circuit board and looking for a code to crack a safe. You do get to use the famous sonic screwdriver and pilot the TARDIS thus enabling all “Whovians” to fulfil their Doctor related fantasies. There are genuine jump scares to be experienced in the section of the game where the Weeping Angels make an appearance and this is again something that VR does very well. The Daleks are quite scary and the adrenaline does start to pump when you engage them in battle. The puzzles, however, are a bit on the easy side and can be frustrating at times when it is not clear what you need to do. The game does handhold you at points but this is very inconsistent with many occasions when you are not offered any assistance at all when it is actually needed. However, even the most average gamer will eventually work out what to do and the game is not particularly taxing.

Graphics

As PSVR games go the graphics in Doctor Who: The Edge of Time are pretty good. There is an excellent level of detail and despite a few object popping issues, they do add to your immersion in the game. Many of the areas are a bit dark and dingy but this enhances the overall foreboding atmosphere of the game. The TARDIS is well rendered and the Daleks are….well Daleks. The Weeping Angels are as scary in VR as they are on the TV series and they really do provide the now expected VR jump scares. The holographic Doctor is spot on and again really immerses you in the game.  All fans will be excited to be able to look round the famous TARDIS and the effect of looking into it from the outside and experiencing its mind-bending physics is stunning. All in all a faithful recreation of the Doctor Who universe taking into account the PSVR’s graphic limitations.

Audio

The sound in my view is spot on and certainly adds to the immersion. Voice acting from the doctor herself (Jodie Whittaker) is excellent and she attacks a fairly middle of the road script with gusto. The familiar theme tune is present and correct and the credit sequence where you fly along with the TARDIS is a real treat for any Doctor Who fan. Hearing the Daleks shout “EXTERMINATE” is also a joy for fans. Just make sure you blast them first! My only complaint would be that the background music can sometimes interfere with characters speech and this can be annoying. I, unfortunately, couldn’t find a menu where I could either turn off or turn down the music. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game is really just a minor quibble.

Longevity

As with many VR games Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is disappointingly short. I managed to bash through it in just under three hours. In terms of comfort, I did not find myself needing to take any breaks and the dreaded motion sickness was pretty much absent. The only time when I felt the urge to rip the headset off was when I was being hunted by the terrifying Weeping Angels! In terms of replayability, I think you are only really going to play through this once unless you are an extremely dedicated fan. The puzzles and pathway through the game are fairly simple and there didn’t appear to be multiple solutions or paths. The on-rails shooting section was fun and I would happily to play through this section of the game again along with the Weeping Angels section. The addition of some DLC would be good but given the contained nature of the storyline, I am not sure how this would work.

Conclusion

To be honest whilst I have pretty much watched most if not all of the Doctor Who series I am not a serious “Whovian” by any stretch of the imagination. I do however consider myself a fan and was really looking forward to playing Doctor Who: Edge of Time. Whilst there are many nods to the Doctor Who Universe and lots of fan-pleasing enemies and elements included, the game in my view failed to live up to it’s potential. What you have is a fairly generic bog standard puzzler with the now slightly cliched VR jump scares wrapped in a Doctor Who skin. It is by no means a bad game and I did enjoy my time with it however I was left slightly disappointed that yet again the potential of making an excellent Doctor Who game has been missed. It’s definitely worth a look if you are a fan and only the most fanatical and obsessed Whovian will find fault with what is in effect a deliberately fan-pleasing effort. All in all an opportunity wasted but hopefully, the devs will add some further adventures by way of DLC and therefore lengthen the game and add a bit of variety.

 

I award Doctor Who: The Edge of Time a Thumb Culture Bronze award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

For more articles from Tristan, click here

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