Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode One: City of the Daleks
First posted on 01 March 2014. Last updated on 01 March 2014.
The game is available at GamersGate.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games
The series is comprised of 5 episodes:
- Episode One: City of the Daleks
- Episode Two: Blood of the Cybermen
- Episode Three: TARDIS
- Episode Four: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada
- Episode Five: The Gunpowder Plot
There are hardly any sci-fi fans who have not heard of Doctor Who. Created originally as a television series by BBC in 1963, Doctor Who is now the longest (though not continuous) running sci-fi television show of all time. In Series 5 (2010) of the show, the Doctor is the played by Matt Smith, and his travelling companion Amy (Amelia) Pond is played by Karen Gillan. Commissioned by BBC, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is an episodic game series developed by Sumo Digital originally as downloadable games to supplement the show in the UK. The games have since been made available worldwide, published by Legacy Games. Episode One: City of the Daleks is the first episode of the series.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is a third-person point-and-click adventure where you take on the protagonist roles of the Doctor and his companion Amy. In this episode, Amy wants to go back in time to 1963 to attend a Beatles concert in London and meet John Lennon. The Doctor sets the coordinates of the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), a time machine housed in a blue police box, for the trip. Upon exiting the TARDIS, however, they find themselves instead in a post-apocalyptic London in Trafalgar Square. Later, after meeting up with Sylvia, the sole survivor of the catastrophic attack by a mechanical extraterrestrial race called the Daleks that has left the city in ruins, the Doctor learns that the invasion is made possible by a crack in time and space caused by the Eye of Time. To save humanity from destruction, the Doctor and Amy must travel to Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks, to locate and destroy the Eye of Time. Using his trusty sonic screwdriver, the Doctor infiltrates the Council Chamber in the capital city of Kaalann to confront the Dalek Emperor and prevent it from using the artifact to become a time lord and supreme ruler of the universe. Doing this successfully will restore the correct timeline and save humanity.
Downloading and installing the game is straightforward without any glitches. The game does not include a separate game manual. After creating a player profile, you are presented with the Main Menu from which you can select Play, Options, Help, or Quit. In the Options menu, you can select Controls, Display, Sound (including Subtitles), or Change Player. Once the game begins, if you are ever stuck, you can talk to Amy who will always provide a helpful clue on what you need to do or where you need to go next. If you are still stuck, you can also use the Esc key to get help on the immediate objective. There are no save game slots to make manual saves. Rather, after each milestone has been reached, an auto save is made by the game. If you want to return to the game later, you can use the available auto saves to do so.
Gameplay is mainly targeted at casual adventure gamers who are also fans of the show. Navigation is done by using both the mouse and the keyboard. I find it easiest to use the keyboard to walk and the mouse to turn or pan. In certain places, you are also able to climb up or down. During stealth mode, you are automatically crouched down when the enemies are near. If you ever get exterminated by the deadly Daleks or the poisonous Varga plants, you will be resurrected to the last autosave checkpoint to try again. Throughout the game, you are constantly reminded of what your next task is. As a bonus challenge, you also can find hidden collectable cards on the previous Doctors, past characters and monsters, and trivia about the show.
The plot is that of a typical episode of Doctor Who as seen on television. Although many of the details may make most sense to only diehard fans of the show, the story is sufficient to almost survive as a standalone adventure. My only criticism is that the game also follows the television show in its length, making it a rather short adventure.
The character models for the Doctor and Amy are instantly recognizable and closely resemble the actors who portray them respectively. According to the developer, the characters are animated using rotoscope technique where actors' movements are captured and animators then trace over their footages frame by frame. Built using the proprietary Immersion engine, the interior of the TARDIS also looks like that from the television show. The game features the familiar opening Doctor Who theme composed by Ron Grainer as well as the voices of Smith and Gillan playing their own roles. As in the television show, Smith speaks with a very English accent whereas Gillian speaks with a broad Scottish accent. Lip synchronization is good. Even the voices for the Daleks sound the same. Ambient music, ranging from light orchestral to dramatic, is present throughout. Sound effects are aptly done.
As expected in a short game, there is a distinct lack of puzzles. There are several maze puzzles which are menial at best. There is also a rewiring puzzle which is simple to solve. The most difficult puzzle is a coded puzzle, in which the symbols have to be rotated and entered within a certain time limit. As the symbols appear progressively faster with time, matching the correct symbols becomes more difficult. Beyond these puzzles, the only challenge in the game is to avoid getting killed by the Daleks and the Varga plants. Limiting your resurrections is a feat within itself.
In sum, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode One: City of the Daleks is quite an enjoyable game. While fans of Doctor Who will undoubtedly relish the experience, non-fans of the show will also likely gain some pleasure playing the game. Compared to previous computer games featuring Doctor Who, this game is definitely among the better adaptations of the franchise.