For well over fifty years The Doctor in his (and now her) many incarnations have travelled across time and space. They’ve battled Daleks, destroyed Cybermen, and even placed entire planets in pocket universes to save their own people from an ongoing Time War. The Doctor, however, is yet to achieve one thing. Appear in a worthwhile standalone video game. So will Doctor Who Infinity break that trend, or confusingly make the idea still no science and all fiction?
Infinity is the latest in a run of episodic games that titles such as Life is Strange have made incredibly popular on the same platforms BBC Studios are targeting with this release. Unlike the competition, however, the first episode is not free. You can download a tutorial that gives you an example standalone sequence where The Doctor and The Master… sorry, Missy… stop the villain of the sequence from killing innocent people, by charging up their weapons in a take on the old match three style puzzle. Once you complete the tutorial, you unlock the ability to download episode one, for £4.99. You also have the option of paying in advance for the first three episodes for £11,99, saving you a whopping quid on each story. Please do contain your excitement…
Credit where it’s due, the developers have tried to not only make the game appeal to fans of the series by rendering it in a comic book style (meaning it could probably run on a Commodore 64 and still look crisp), but they have also brought in the cast to record the dialogue so that the voices are accurate (in later episodes even classic Companions and Doctors have recorded content for the story). Your Commodore 64 might struggle with that bit come to think of it. So the fanservice is there when it comes to detail, it’s just a shame the game itself is, well, boring.
I don’t understand how a product with the wealth of narrative, characters, locations and fictional scope can create such drab games. After seeing LEGO Dimensions create the amazing Doctor Who level set where you play through an original episode of the show in LEGO form, that includes every Doctor to date as well as numerous voice acted companions… how can everyone else get it so so wrong? Who thought an ongoing match three puzzler was the way forward for a science fiction adventure series? And don’t think the match three format is simply the opening mission. No the entirety of at least episode one is match three. The mind boggles. Hell, I’ll say my idea for a game right here because it’s that obvious what someone should do! The Master kidnaps every old incarnation of The Doctor (The Five Doctors style) and traps them on enemy ships and planets. It’s then up to the current Doctor to hunt them all down platformer style, defeat each monster, and acquire a new skill from each Doctor saved. Culminating in a final boss against The Master themselves where every skill acquired is needed to defeat them and save the universe. There, narrative done, self-explanatory! LEGO I expect a cheque in the post if this eventually happens…
It’s not just the lack of real gameplay or narrative that are problematic. Even the recorded dialogue drains you as you hear Missy mocking your choice of move the same way for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. How hard is it to record more put-downs as dialogue? And the sound effects used when matching three, or an enemy launching an attack, are irritating to the point of muting the audio.
Overall I’m very disappointed when Doctor Who should be such a simple show to make a game for! With the platforms, technology and ability used for other massive titles such as Zelda or the Batman Arkham series, making an open world and rich Who title should be as easy as waving a Sonic Screwdriver. I just hope another fifty years don’t pass before a decent game for this long-running series regenerates.
Beard Score: 4/10
Publisher: Tiny Rebel Games
Format: Steam, iOS, Android