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Semi-Live Blog: Doctor Who Adventures

Featured post

Update – all done!

I’ll fix this into a nice and tidy post later, but for now keep refreshing to see my thoughts on City of the Daleks as I play. I make no apology for typos, gibberish or nerdery.

(Yes, this is happening with the newest stuff at the bottom. C’mon, you can cope.)

I would by lying if I said it didn’t feel amazing to be immediately greeted by that theme tune. GOING ON AN ADVENTURE GOING ON AN ADVENTURE.

‘Please type in your name below.’ In any other game, I’d write something clever, or one of my various web-handles. Here, it’s just ‘Alec.’ It’s just ‘Alec’ because that means Alec is going on an adventure with the Doctor.

Full range of resolution options – good. Worried this would only cater for rubbish PCs.

When you exit, the Doctor and Amy scarper into the Tardis and close the door. Lovely.

Those new Renault Megane Daleks do look a bit nob, don’t they?

The Doctor and Amy talk about the Beatles. “Why does nobody ever want to meet Ringo?”

Acting seems a bit muted and unexicted compared to the bombastic series, especially Amy. She’s a bit muttery.

People a bit plastic-faced.

Does the proper pre-credits thing. Cliffhanger and… MUSIC. CREDITS. LOGOS. TARDIS IN A CORRIDOR OF FIRE. Exciting!

The Doctor keeps touching Amy. Like that, is it?

Tutorial-time. Slightly kills the air of dynamism, but it’s brief.

Matt Smith’s face is nowhere near as long as in real life.

Oh dear, collectables.It’s the end of the bloody world! Is now really the time to be picking cards up off the street?

‘FACT!’ There is education hidden here, people. Be careful. You might learn something.

Stealth-o-crouch happens automatically when enemies are near.

The Daleks have Metal Gear Solid cone of view effects. They’re also kinda cute.

Ew! Colin Baker’s face on a collectable card! That was completely unnecessary.

Oh God, Amy’s acting really is rubbish. What happened?

So far, it’s no puzzles so much as clicking on a thing and a thing happening. But, y’know, for kids. It’s interaction in a virtual world, and it’s games trying to do the TV thing. Interesting even if it’s not complicated.

First Sonic Screwdrivering. Opening a door. Well, he does do that in the show all the time.

Smith’s certainly not phoning it in, bless him. He is doing a sort of husky sex-voice, though.

Charing Cross Station manages the unusual feat of looking both post-apocalyptic and very clean.

Oh dear, that shot of a Dalek army looked like a screensaver from 1992.

Is… is the Doctor wearing leather trousers?

Amy seems to be suffering from St Vitus’ Dance.

Right, well, you can definitely get killed. It’s not that kiddie. Whimsically half-expected the Doctor to regenerate, but instead it went back to an agreeably recent checkpoint.

Electrified tracks. Why did it have to be electrified tracks?

Hum, a hacking mini-game. I felt slightly frightened upon starting it, despite it being incredibly simple. The logic part of my brain is weak.

OK, I actually can’t do this. Shouldn’t have drunk half a bottle of wine earlier, really.

Fusebox successfully rewired, Meer’s sense of gaming pride successfully destroyed. Genuinely hateful, pace-breaking puzzle.

Crikey. NPC deaths!

Urgh, more sub-MGS creeping about. Those Daleks aren’t very observant, given it’s broad daylight.

Risking my – and humanity’s – existence by trying to pick up a collectable card left near a deadly Dalek. Now isn’t the time, Doctor.

Ooh, off to Skaro, home planet of the Daleks. I don’t believe we’ve been there since the Tom Baker years, have we? Actually, maybe there was a rubbish Colin Baker story set there. I am such a nerd.

Amy simply doesn’t look like Amy. Or sound like her.

Either Amy starting to fade from existence because the Daleks mucking about with the timeline is a Back To The Future homage, or my name isn’t George McFly.

As Lewie says in comments, do look out the window in Act 2. Alien post-industrial horror-beauty. Very classic Star Trek, too.

Oof, it forcibly turned me 180 degrees when it decided I wasn’t going in the direction it wanted me too. Mean old game.

This town needs an anti-aliasing enema.

Dalek production line is a neat visual concept. More hokey stealthery, alas.

Kind of want this to end now.

Some bad grammar in the subtitles. On the plus side, the archicture of the Dalek world seems like a good mid-point between the Welsh warehouses of the show and the sci-fi strangeness that Only Games Can Do.

Increasingly convinced these controls were designed with a gamepad in mind. Really sluggish yet twitchy.

It’s just every mini-game in the world, basically. Wouldn’t mind if it didn’t hurt the otherwise cheery flow so much.

“I bet the security system will be tougher to crack now.” Nooooo.

The freaky giant Dalek Librarian eye looks a bit like a bottom-hole, I’m afraid.

Look, I’m trying to be upbeat and positive, but when a game makes me backtrack through the same annoying stealth area three times, I can’t keep up a convincing smile.

Quite excited about meeting the Dalek Emperor though, I’ll admit. He looks a bit like a Duke Nukem boss. Much chattier, mind. Same old Daleks – decide to have a natter with the Doctor instead of killing him. They always lose the same way.

The Daleks have a macguffin. Doc thinks he can talk them out of using it. MUSIC IS VERY EXCITED. So am I, despite myself.

Woah, crazy volume spike for “uh, Amy, run!” It’s like Matt Smith just crept up behind me and shouted in my ear.

“Ah, here we are again.” Yes. Yes we are. Some nice attention to detail in the view outside the window from this earlier, more ruined Skaro though.

More backtracking than Halo. That’s saying something.

So there are these maze games, where you have to drag objects around a simple layout without touching the sides, or you fail and have to start again. These grow in complexity and length – the one where you have to steer three parts around feels like outright contempt towards gamers. This is nothing to do with Doctor Who, and this is nothing to do with having a good time.

And done. Which is just as well, as I have to get up at 5 to catch a plane. Final thoughts? It feels Doctor Whoy, in its verve, in its gleeful pseudo-science, its banter and its nick-of-time coincidences. Unfortunately, it’s also highly annoying – electing to substitute real puzzles with repetitive maze games and haphazard sneaking. I don’t know how complete the other episodes are at this stage (I suspect they’re pretty much done, to be honest), but hopefully they’ll build upon what’s here, and what City of The Dalek’s players have learned, rather than simply repeat it.

It’s certainly going to be enough for young kids, though they may find some of the minigames quite frustrating. I simply question why it decided to cling to that bitty approach to quite this extent.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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