WPR Reviews: Doctor Who The Adventure Games – City of the Daleks

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The Doctor has been long overdue for a proper video game. He has had a few games in the nearly 50 years that the franchise has spanned but since 1997, there has only been a board RPG game. But now it’s evidently a good time for the BBC to produce a new game based on the Timelord’s adventures, so we have the first of four Doctor Who Adventures, City of the Daleks. Developed by Sumo Digital with Charles Cecil of Broken Sword fame on board, it’s certainly something to be excited about. The first episode came out a few weeks ago for the sweet sweet price of free and here is our review of it.

As you may have already guessed, this first episode revolves around the Doctor’s longest and most overused enemy, the Daleks. The Doctor and Amy (both accurate recreations of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan) go to visit London in 1963 only to find that the whole of the city has been destroyed by the Daleks. The time travellers must avoid them while trying to find out how the Daleks did this and later on, go to their home planet of Skaro.

The first thing I’ll mention is how faithful Sumo Digital have been with the licence at hand. Everything, from the iconic voices of the Daleks to the TARDIS to the conversations between the Doctor and Amy, have all been faithfully recreated in the game. It even begins with an opening cut scene that gives a summary of the episode before playing the opening credits to the TV show. The same can be said for the end credits. You get the feeling that Sumo Digital really wanted to make this game for the Doctor Who fans, which is no surprise considering that the BBC are heavily involved with it.

The game is a point and click adventure so if you’ve played anything like the Monkey Island or the Sam & Max games then you’ll know what to expect. Like the more modern titles of the genre, this is a 3D adventure where you control the Doctor with the WASD keys but still click on stuff to find out more stuff and solve puzzles to further your progress. However, where as the Telltale games for example use fixed cameras, this is more like a third person adventure with the camera revolving around the character you are controlling.

“Sumo Digital really wanted to make this game for the Doctor Who fans,”

Of course, the main guts of any adventure game are the inventory and conversation systems.  For the former, there is a very simple and streamlined system in place. Any time you want to use an item, just press space to bring up your inventory, click on it and then use it on whatever you’re aiming at. There are only 3 slots available (The Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver takes up one of four slots) but you never need more than 3 on your person at one time. I thought it was a very easy system to use and it means anyone can pick the game up, rather than just adventure game fans. As for the conversation system, it is absolutely…standard. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Whoever you’re talking to says one thing, you give a reply and so on and so forth. There’s no bells and whistles to it but there’s nothing wrong with it either. It makes things simple enough for the mass consumer that the BBC are clearly aiming at so I have no problem with it.

The main problem that the game suffers from is that it is simply too easy. It doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. After all, it’s being aimed mainly at a casual audience and of course, a lot of kids watch Doctor Who. That being said, it would have been nice to see something more than collecting items and solving the occasional puzzle, which is often nothing more than “place one thing in another thing”. Even if the puzzles can’t be slightly challenging, they should at least be varied, especially when the short attention spans of children are involved. I also feel the game could have been a bit longer with it coming in at just a little over two hours but I again refer to my kids comment. As for replay value, the only reason to go back is if you really enjoyed it or want to find all of the collectables cards scattered around the levels.

In conclusion, you’ll only truly enjoy this game if you’re a Doctor Who fan. If not, you’ll find nothing more than an adequate adventure game that holds your hand more than you’d like. But if you are a fan, then you’ll find enough between the faithfulness to the show and the gameplay to really enjoy it and for the low low price of free, can you really say no?

(The second episode, Blood of the Cybermen, is out this weekend. You can download City of the Daleks here)

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