The Game: Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock
Developer: Supermassive Games
Describe This Game in Three Words: You're the Doctor
Plot Synopsis: A deadly time storm threatens to rip the universe apart, and only a trip to the Eternity Clock, a planet that stands as the ultimate historical record of the universe, will allow the Doctor and companion River Song to save it.
Up Up: Aside from BioShock: Infinite, there was no game I was more looking forward to than Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock. It's easily the best Doctor Who game yet. You control the Doctor and River Song in a fairly straightforward side-scrolling adventure that has all the hallmarks of one of the old Shiny releases like Earthworm Jim or the criminally underrated Wild 9. You avoid enemies, solve puzzles and really do get the feeling that you're controlling the legendary Time Lord.
Matt Smith and Alex Kingston did their own voices, which adds to the feeling that you're right smack in one of the BBC episodes. Cybermen, Daleks, London, the TARDIS, everything has been lovingly rendered to the smallest detail, right down to little jokes like a building for the Tom Baker Cotton Company. Unlike in some games, the helper AI in this one is brilliant, with River always going where she's needed, sometimes making her smarter than the Doctor...well-played, Supermassive. Well-played indeed.
Non-Mario side-scrollers like Out of This World and the Oddworld series are one of the few genres of games that seem to resist making a comeback. Eternity Clock can stand proud among them as an example of the fact that you can make a good one in the modern era. It's the closest any of us will ever get to wielding the sonic screwdriver.
Down, Down: It's not all rosy, though. Even though you move in two dimensions, your enemies can move in three. It gets a little ridiculous making the Doctor do elaborate jump puzzles to accomplish something he could do by walking around the completely rendered background...something the enemies can do, by the way.
The game is also fairly glitchy. I had to reset it twice when elevators lowered through the floor. This sort of thing also tends to cancel out voice-over triggers, so you miss important information.
Finally, the writing could've used a bit of work. Going back in time to fix a pothole seems more like a Chrono Trigger side-quest than a mission for the Doctor in the middle of a Cyberman invasion of London. The dialogue can be a little eye-rolling, too, and every once in a while you could swear it was being written by Yahoo Serious.
Left, Right, Left, Right: Controlling the Doctor or River is simple and elegant. Every motion is fluid and of course the default is set to run. There are a few hiccups. Sometimes boosting a character up to a ledge makes it hard to pull yourself up. Using the sonic screwdriver as a lock pick is a fairly simple skill to master, but it's not as flawless as, say, the cryptographic sequencer from Batman: Arkham City.
B, A: Strangely enough, this is my first encounter with the eleventh doctor. I just started watching the series earlier this year, and the last episode I streamed from Netflix was the end of David Tennant's run. In a way the game makes perfect sense to me as the last thing I saw was a laughing Smith crashing the TARDIS to Earth, which is where the game picks up.
Start?: It's the Doctor. Either that sentence means nothing to you or it means everything to you. For the latter, Eternity Clock is an indispensible addition to the Whoniverse, and hopefully a sign of great things to come.
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