Also on: PC, PS4, Switch
Publisher: Maze Theory
Developer: Maze Theory/Just Add Water
There?s a slight possibility that I didn?t enjoy Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality because I?m not all that familiar with the series. I have vague memories of watching it years and years ago (Wikipedia tells me this may have been back when they were still on the fifth or sixth Doctor, to give you an idea of how long ago we?re talking), I know what a Dalek looks like, and I know of the Sonic Screwdriver because of a previous boss who was a massive fan, but beyond that, it?s one of my pop culture blindspots.
That said, unless the series has turned into a cheaply made, dimly lit, steaming pile of garbage, I?m pretty sure that it?s not a lack of familiarity with the source material that made it hard for me to enjoy Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality.
To be fair, the game started its life back in 2019 as the VR-only Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, so it?s quite possible something was lost in the transition. I mean, that game got middling (at best) reviews, so I don?t know how good an excuse that is, but it may go some of the way towards explaining why this game is so awful.
Of course, even if you accept that argument, it still leaves plenty of blame to hang on The Edge of Reality. For example: visually it?s a mess. The default brightness settings are so low that you literally can?t see anything — though you quickly discover that when you turn up the brightness, it makes reading anything on a white screen virtually impossible. It also makes some of the puzzles nearly unplayable, particularly one Bop-It-style puzzle where items light up in the order in which you?re supposed to press them; with brightness increased, the illuminated items are so lit up you can barely even see the screen.
Mind you, this Bop-It puzzle issue is equally emblematic of how poorly-made the puzzles are. In another location, I had to insert plugs into a board — only to discover that once they were in, they were stuck there, no matter how often the game told me I needed to take them out and try again. While none of the puzzles are particularly hard, the game still makes them more challenging than they need to be with directions that are often incomprehensible and controls that stubbornly refuse to do what they?re supposed to.
I?ve read elsewhere that The Edge of Reality?s one saving grace is that it puts Doctor Who fans up close and personal with their favourite universe. The problem with this is that it doesn?t, really. You don?t play as The Doctor. In fact, you don?t even play near the Doctor, since she?s off trapped somewhere else, and she?s just telling you how to rescue her. Likewise, you don?t get much of anything else from Doctor Who, since the world is so sparsely populated that there are barely any Daleks to be found.
Again, I don?t have a ton of experience with Doctor Who, so I may be the completely wrong person to be judging The Edge of Reality. But given that the series has been around for about sixty years, I?m perfectly willing to accept that it?s a fun, substantive universe. Unfortunately, none of that comes through with this game.
Maze Theory provided us with a Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality Xbox One code for review purposes.