Doctor Who is a franchise that has spanned many mediums over the decades since it first hit television screens, and captured the imaginations of viewers of all ages. Fans have been able to enjoy the franchise beyond the screen, with books, comics, and audio dramas that expand the universe in interesting new ways.
But one area in which the franchise has seemed to struggle has been video games. There have been some poorly made side-scrolling adventures that were barely Doctor Who, text adventures, and puzzle games. There’s even the recently released Doctor Who game that’s dealing with NFTs that sounds absolutely appalling and downright disgusting. These games have failed to really capture the spirit of the show or make players feel like they’re playing the Doctor. But one that came pretty close was Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock.
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is set within the events of the 6th series of the modern show, putting players in control of the Doctor (Matt Smith) and River Song (Alex Kingston) as they navigate London through broken time periods in an attempt to stop time from falling apart. The story begins as all good Doctor Who tales do, with the TARDIS flying out of control and dumping the Doctor in modern day London to try and figure it out. He doesn’t get much time to do so, as the TARDIS vanishes, and he finds Cybermen taking over. Things get even more complicated when time corridors enable him to move between different periods in history, all with their own enemies to face, like the Silurians, Daleks, and the Silence. Thankfully, River Song is on hand to help him through these puzzles, shoot some villains, and flirt shamelessly with him.
The game-play is a fairly simple affair, as the game is a side-scrolling adventure, seeing you directing your characters across the screen, occasionally jumping up to higher levels, or dropping down to things below. Whilst this is not the full 3-D adventure some fans would have been wanting it still manages to be a pretty interesting game by utilising a number of puzzles that can require you to perform certain actions in one time to effect another, such as destroying a wall in the Victorian era so that it’s not there to block your escape in the modern day. Much of this is done by switching between the two leads and utilising their different skill sets.
Compared to some of the other puzzle games on offer for Doctor Who this approach is downright mould-breaking. Instead of overly done match-3 games, or point and click adventures where you’re investigating every item on the screen, you’re having to think a bit harder, and use different skills as the puzzles vary. It’s nothing world shattering for sure, and the game doesn’t do anything that other games have done better, but it certainly feels like a big step forward for this franchise at least.
The game really shines in its attention to detail, however, and is jam-packed with Easter eggs and fun things for fans to spot. You get survivors in the background of scenes asking why Torchwood isn’t helping against the alien invasion, there’s a destroyed double decker bus in the one scene that’s the same one from ‘Planet of the Dead’, and lines from past episodes get reused. There are also collectables for each of the characters that are full of fun nods and extra info. The Doctor collects hats, and you’ll find the First Doctor’s cap, Vincent van Gogh’s straw hat, and even the hat worn by the Valeyard from ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’. Each of these discoveries comes with a fun line or two from Smith. And River gets to collect pages from her diary which reveal some past adventures for the character as we learn she’s met the former incarnations of the Doctor. We get her insight into each of them, and it’s delightful for fans of their relationship.
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And I think that’s who this game is really designed for, the fans. It’s not the kind of game that’s going to get a lot of attention or wow audiences for breaking new ground, but for those of us who love this universe and these characters it’s just fun to spend some time with them. The performances from both Smith and Kingston help with this a lot too, and both of them bring a lot of the charm and flair of their screen performances to the voice acting.
It’s a shame that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock didn’t do better upon its release, as it ended plans for a further two games to be produced, and leaves this story hanging with an ending that promises more, but that we’ll most likely never get. However, if you’re a Doctor Who fan, particularly one of the 11th Doctor, and want to spend a few hours having a bit of fun, this game is definitely one that you’ll want to try out.