Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS

Posted by Mervyn Graham.
First posted on 01 September 2014. Last updated on 01 September 2014.
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Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS
The Doctor finds Chronomites harmlessly inhabiting the time riptide.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS
Amy discovers a strange bottle hidden behind a clock.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS
The Doctor needs to set off a reverse Tachyon Feedback Loop to rescue Amy back from the future.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS
The Doctors makes a recording to communicate with Amy in the future.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS
The Doctor bargains with The Entity to save Amy.

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 the 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 BBC Wales Interactive. Episode Three: TARDIS is the third 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, the Doctor and Amy are in the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), a time machine housed in a blue police box, chitchatting about disastrous holidays gone wrong. Suddenly, the TARDIS lurches violently, its door flies open, and the Doctor is sucked outside into a time riptide. Amy activates an air bubble outside the TARDIS to help the Doctor breath. Following the Doctor's instruction, Amy goes to his private Drawing Room in the TARDIS to try to find a way to rescue the Doctor. Unfortunately for Amy, she knocks over a strange bottle in the room by accident, unknowingly releasing a dangerous creature known as The Entity who in turn infects Amy. Soon after Amy rescues the Doctor, another forceful time riptide sends Amy through a lesion in time a thousand years into the future. It is up to the Doctor and Amy to work together to repair the time lesion, before the Doctor can save Amy from The Entity.

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. Compared to previous episodes, this episode is by far the shortest game of the series so far. In fact, the episode is entirely confined within the TARDIS, making the exploration rather claustrophobic. The episode is also very linear, in that all tasks must be done in a strict set order. I most enjoy fiddling with all of the controls on the console inside the TARDIS. This is possible when playing as either the Doctor or Amy. On the other hand, I am disappointed that many of the puzzles in this episode are regurgitated from previous episodes. The only new puzzle is a trivia quiz, with each question pertaining to the previous different incarnations of the Doctor. 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. Despite the shortened length, there is a lot of dialog to wade through, even though that there is little interaction between the Doctor and Amy. This episode sees the introduction of a trio of new lifeforms or adversaries for the Doctor to deal with: The Entity, a creature of pure energy that fees on time; Chronomites, tiny harmless blue creatures that inhabit the void between space and time; and, as a teaser, a gigantic fearsome underwater creature that the Doctor and Amy will meet in the next episode.

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. For the first time in the series, the console that is the centerpiece of the TARDIS is shown in great details. 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 Gillan speaks with a broad Scottish accent. Lip synchronization is very good. Ambient music, ranging from light orchestral to dramatic, is present throughout. Sound effects are aptly done.

In sum, Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Episode Three: TARDIS is quite an enjoyable game, albeit its shortened length. 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.

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