I can understand why it's a challenge to make a video game based on Doctor Who that honors the spirit of the source material. The Doctor abhors guns, so a shooter is out of the question. You could make a platformer because the Doctor and his/her companions certainly do a lot of running, but there's not much of the show's soul in a jumpfest. Match-5 puzzle game? Well, now you're not even trying! Thankfully, the folks at the BBC, PlayStack, and developer Maze Theory have seemingly cracked the puzzle of what it takes to make a solid Doctor Who game with a VR adventure that casts the player in the role of the Doctor's latest assistant who must come to the rescue when she (voiced by Jodie Whittaker from the television series) needs help solving the latest universe-ending jam. Doctor Who: The Edge of Time released last week for the PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Vive Cosmos. Here's a bit of the press release that summarizes the experience:
Armed with the iconic Sonic Screwdriver, players will solve mind-bending puzzles, grapple with classic monsters and encounter new horizons in a quest to find the Doctor and defeat a powerful force that threatens to destroy the fabric of reality. They will face the infamous Daleks and other known faces from the Doctor’s world plus some brand new never-before-seen monsters as they travel through stunning cinematic environments that truly bring the show to life!
The Doctor has been hurled through time to the end of the universe. A virus that threatens to rip apart reality itself has been unleashed. Players can pilot the TARDIS on a journey across worlds both familiar and strange to recover a series of powerful time crystals that can repair spacetime and ultimately, save the universe itself.
I've been playing the game on PSVR and am impressed with what I've seen so far. I mean, I get to wave a sonic screwdriver around to make things happen, and that right there is at least 25% of what you need for a real Doctor Who game. The rest comes from monsters both familiar and new, an engaging story that feels like an episode of the TV show (even the opening credits have been reworked for VR, sending players hurtling through the time vortex in first-person), solving puzzles, and finally being able to remark for myself that "It's bigger on the inside" when I step inside the TARDIS for the first time. I have more to play before I'm ready to write a review and issue a verdict, but first impressions are solid except for one issue: as I unfortunately experienced with Borderlands 2 VR, playing the game for more than twenty minutes or so makes me incredibly nauseated. I swear there's a monkey's paw at work because the more I want to play a VR game, the more likely it is to make me sick. My girlfriend (who is also a gamer and Doctor Who fanatic) and I have decided to switch off playing every few minutes so that we can recover from nausea by watching the old fashioned 2D television screen while the other one wears the PSVR helmet. We'll solve the puzzles together and stave off stomach issues just like in one of those grand romantic montages from an old movie. I'd like to think that the Doctor would appreciate our teamwork.