Licensed video games are always fraught with the peril of hardcore fan expectations vs. actual gameplay. Add in the burden of Doctor Who’s nearly 60-year franchise history and a baker’s dozen of Doctors, each with their own fans and detractors, and it seems foolish to even attempt to adapt the property to the gaming world. Thankfully, the developers of this game get it mostly right, with valuable voice acting assists from the current 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, as well as fan-favorite 10th Doctor, David Tennant.
The story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but involves time fractures that can only be fixed with time crystals found by you, a seemingly random person called into service by the 13th Doctor. Playing across nine different levels in a free-roaming first person perspective, you face off against some light puzzles and classic Doctor Who baddies the Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels as you work to repair the damage and save the universe. Yes, you don’t actually play as the Doctor, just more of a pseudo companion who acts on the Doctor’s orders.
So how does Tennant’s 10th Doctor figure into the game? Well, he’s barely present, only appearing in glorified cameos late in the game that amount to no more than 5-10 minutes of screen time. Still, Tennant’s script manages to fit in three hearty “allons-y”s in that short time, overdosing his catchphrase in an attempt to make the most of his small role. His Doctor appears when the time fractures are getting severe, so he’s wholly independent of Whittaker’s 13th Doctor, having no direct interaction with her although hilariously expressing his bemusement at her gender and imagining the reaction of River Song.
For her part, Whittaker is outstanding in her vocal contribution to the game, giving it her all in a very well-acted role. She’s not present all the time in the game, making way for an AI guide character named EMER for significant chunks of game time, but this is definitely her game. If you’re not a fan of her Doctor, you may want to keep calm and find a different game, but you’ll be missing out on a fun ride through the timestream.
Gameplay involves solving puzzles and accomplishing objectives on each level in order to advance to the next, such as infiltrating a Cyberman base ship, making your way through Victorian London while avoiding Weeping Angels, and using stealth to sneak past Daleks before taking over a Dalek casing and blasting them to bits. And yes, you get to hang out in the Tardis too, and fiddle around with the controls to your heart’s content. The Cybermen and Daleks aren’t very threatening, since they’re so slow and uncoordinated that they can easily be outrun and outmaneuvered, but the Weeping Angels offer some legitimate menace and require a little strategy as you have to keep remembering to walk backwards away from them in a cramped maze of tunnels rather than try to run.
The graphics are passable if unremarkable, with some significant framerate issues in a couple of levels that will hopefully be resolved in later patches. The game was released two weeks ago but is still actively being patched, with two major updates dropping during the three days I was playing the game this week. The UK developers are clearly still keen to continue optimizing the game, as I received timely replies and requests for more info after DM-ing them with a couple of minor bug reports.
There are two sets of collectibles hidden throughout the game, one a set of objects representing Doctor Who lore such as Tom Baker’s scarf and Ninth Doctor’s leather jacket, and the other a collection of journal pages to be reassembled. Unfortunately, there’s currently no chapter select, so if you miss anything on your first playthrough, you’ll have to go through again from the beginning to mop up any missing items. Thankfully, the game does retain your previously collected items when you start a new game, assuming you got to a save point after collecting them the first time.
The game is fairly brief, with my leisurely exploration of every nook and cranny clocking in at five hours. Gamers uninterested in exploration or collectibles can probably finish comfortably in 3-4 hours. Frankly, it’s a perfect length for the game, and I applaud the lack of time-wasting padding, although gamers paying full price may feel a bit shortchanged.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality is now available on pretty much every current system. I played on Xbox One, but it’s also available for digital download on Xbox Series S/X, PS4 and PS5, and Steam, with Nintendo Switch coming soon.