Doctor Who: Edge of Reality – A TARDIS Sized Misfire
Xbox Series/One, PS4/5, PC
I have been a Whovian for a long time. While I never got into Doctor Who’s original incarnations as a child I latched onto the 2005 Reboot and have been hooked ever since. I have watched every season so far and got my wife and eldest spawn into the show. I even went so far as to get a T.A.R.D.I.S. tattooed on my leg, so when the opportunity came around to review a video game based on the long-running franchise I jumped at the chance to join the Doctor and save the universe. The best episodes of Doctor Who combine tension and suspense with bursts of action to keep the viewer engaged with the story. Unfortunately, Edge of Reality does not succeed in drawing the player in the same way, instead trudging along without any atmosphere, leaving the whole experience feeling flat.
An upgraded version of the 2019 VR game Edge of Time, Edge of Reality has been modified to run on consoles and PC with traditional controls. Despite the modifications that have been made to the base game it is very apparent that the controls were developed for VR, with simple interactions with items and objects. The reliance on the VR interactions really limits what the player can do, even with all of the extra controls available. Your time will be spent walking around the environment trying to find the right object to interact with, whether that be with the Doctor’s all-powerful Sonic Screwdriver or objects you find around the world.
Oh, I should mention that you are not The Doctor. The Doctor is trapped as a virus that is rewriting reality tears through all of time and space. With the help of some good old fashioned wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, you are bestowed the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver to help you on an adventure that takes introduces you to some new foes along with facing the Daleks, Cybermen and the Weeping Angels.
For those who don’t know, the Weeping Angels are creatures introduced in the modern reboot and are the most terrifying creatures in the Doctor Who universe. If you have gotten this far into this review without having seen the episode “Blink” then allow me to elaborate. The Weeping Angels are apex predators. They are fast, able to close large distances in the blink of an eye and the only way to stop them is to look at them. An in-built defence mechanism turns them to stone when someone is looking at them, leaving the instant a person blinks as the moment they can attack. Now you have an idea of what these creatures can do, you can imagine my trepidation when I realise I have to make my way through a winding crypt with these creatures potentially hunting me.
That is until I came across the first Angel.
After a little jump scare and a rise in the music, I was paralyzed. How was I supposed to navigate this crypt while having to look backwards at the Angel behind me? As I slowly backed away I realised I did not know which way to go. I had to turn around and look for the tell-tale marks on the floor that was my guide. Heart racing, I quickly spun around hoping to get back around before the Angel could get me.
It hadn’t moved at all. Not only that, I soon discovered that none of them moved. This game took the most terrifying creatures in the Doctor Who universe and neutered them, these creatures to nothing more than a jump scare. Knowing I could just walk past the Angels sucked out all of the atmosphere the game had built up. There was no longer any fear or trepidation. More importantly, there was no longer any challenge.
While this was an obvious design choice, possibly one made due to the game being developed for VR first, other glitches make the game a major challenge to play. On occasion, there were items that I could not interact with despite needing to progress, but the most challenging one came when I was in control of a Dalek shell, utilising its blaster to destroy other Daleks and shoot drones out of the sky. This was made all the more difficult by the blaster wigging out whenever I was moving backwards. It was something I was able to work past but extremely annoying.
If you can look past these issues there is still a decent Doctor Who story here. Jodie Whittaker stars as the thirteenth Doctor but there is also a special appearance from David Tennant, tenth Doctor and consistently voted as the best Doctor ever. While the story involving the Tenth Doctor is an add on crafted for Edge of Reality, it ties into a storyline from the show and it is great to see Tennant back in the saddle, even if only as an add on to the main game.
While fans of Doctor Who will get a kick out of the story and see David Tennant reprise his role, the lacklustre gameplay and glitches make this a game that is hard to recommend to those that are not die-hard Whovians.
Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with code kindly provided by the publisher.