Doctor Who is the longest-running sci-fi franchise in the world and has been to some pretty strange places, but Maze Theory and Just Add Water’s video game is the first to take the Doctor to The Edge of Reality. Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels abound for your hapless protagonist, so what are you waiting for? Allons-y!
The plot kicks off with the unnamed protagonist at a launderette in London when the Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker, contacts them to say that they are stuck on the edge of reality as a reality virus is eating away at the universe and they need the protagonist’s help to put everything back in order. You’re then whisked off through London and hop across space and time to find the Time Crystals that the Doctor needs to put everything right. As far as Doctor Who plots go, it’s fairly standard, if a bit more dramatic than most. Jumping around from Victorian London to a Cyberman ship to the Temple of the First on Metebelis IV is great fun, and the change in locations means you’re never in one place long enough to get bored.
However, the biggest drawback to the plot and to the game is that some things are never properly explained, as it seems unspoken that the player is already familiar with Doctor Who and the universe associated with it. While that means there’s not unnecessary chatter going on, it also makes it highly inaccessible to outsiders. Even to those familiar with the franchise, there are things not properly explained, such as “Why should I listen to this random voice coming out of a tablet on a potentially hostile alien planet without knowing who they are?” Things like this seem to be answered with “Because the game says you gotta” when really an extra paragraph or two of dialogue could make a world of difference in strengthening it.
Given that the plot itself and dialogue are well written, it feels that things were trimmed to try and speed the action along, which was frankly unnecessary. The game's lack of save points in between chapters is also at best an inconvenience but seems to be similarly geared toward moving through the game as fast as possible, jumping from one chapter to another without time to mosey.
Even when it comes to the game's fun little collectibles, the pages for the Journal of Improbable Things, and items for the Miniscope, there’s not much explanation. Those unfamiliar with the Classic story Carnival of Monsters from the Third Doctor’s run will be scratching their heads at what on earth a miniscope is exactly and why it’s relevant, as the Doctor’s haphazard explanation doesn’t really explain it. At the same time, for fans of the Classic and New series, the Miniscope is a treat as it holds gobs of fun shout-outs to all of the Doctors and some of the series most memorable moments, like the supercharged baseball bat that Ace attacked a Dalek with or the 3D glasses that the Tenth Doctor used in the Battle at Canary Wharf.
Despite the lack of explanation, if you’re familiar with Doctor Who and willing to accept hopscotching over some plot holes, the game is a great deal of fun. While the mechanics play the same in each area, you solve different puzzles and have to deal with each of the Doctor’s foes in a different way. From the blacklight maze with the Weeping Angels, which is as scary as it sounds, to the Dalek-vision run through the temple, they’re all highly entertaining, though the Weeping Angels bit did have me almost fall off my sofa.
The characters that the game introduces are also quite imaginative and slot perfectly in among the Doctor Who canon. Your ally, Emer, is the Emergency System of a downed ship that was saved by the Doctor and is tagging along with you to now save reality. She’s plucky, delightful, curious, and knowledgeable, with full access to the Tardis’ databanks. There’s also the Zlysters and Tazmas, aliens who feed on attention and devolve into hideous monsters when not given enough, and the terrifying CyberReaper, a Cyberman who cannibalizes other Cybermen for their parts to continuously upgrade himself. Basically a less cute version of Wall-e. I’d love to see any of these characters pop up in the show, particularly the CyberReaper, though between that and the Weeping Angels, I may have to start billing BBC for my nightmare therapy.
Graphics at The Edge of Reality are, unfortunately, not great. It’s quite clear that the game is a port from a VR game, and while I do appreciate being able to play it without hurling, it still looks very much like a basic VR game. The graphics do have a certain PS2-era charm about them, but the Doctor, when seen, looks rather, well, decidedly not fantastic. Still, if you don’t mind the kitschy retro look, the detail in the environment and the objects you get to examine do make up for it, and each setting has that imaginative and bizarre vibe that you would expect from Doctor Who.
A special shout-out of course needs to go to Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant for their excellent voice performances, as well as Jennifer Saayeng who voiced Emer. Whittaker brings her infectious rambling confidence to the role and whilst Tennant gets to mess around, he also delivers an enormously powerful monologue that is the emotional highlight of the plot.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality is wonderful fun for anyone who is already a fan of the franchise, and it’s a great prototype that shows the long untapped potential for what Doctor Who video games could and should be like. Though the lack of plot explanations is a stumbling block and the PS2 graphics could certainly be better, Whittaker and Tennant’s performances carry the well-plotted core of the story through and deliver a smashing experience for seasoned fans.
TechRaptor reviewed Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality on Xbox Series S with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
- Excellent Performances By Whittaker, Tennant and Saayeng
- Fun Core Plot With Differing Play Styles
- Graphics Are Clearly Meant for VR and Look Outdated on Console
- No Save Points In Between Chapters
- Lack of Plot Explanation At Times