Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality has arrived for XBox, PlayStation and PC! Blogtor Who has spent the weekend puzzling, running, and jumping around a collapsing universe to bring your our review
Maze Theory’s latest game, Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality, builds on the previous VR only experience The Edge of Time, and functions both as remake and sequel. Approximately the first two thirds of this game plays out almost exactly as its predecessor. This allows players without a VR set up to finally discover those levels for the first time. But the final third of the game is completely new. So even for those already owning the earlier version, there’s plenty of motivation to pick up The Edge of Reality. In fact, considering Time’s somewhat downbeat ending, it’s a chance to finally provide closure for the player character and Emer’s odyssey.
The original storyline remains, with the unleashing of a reality virus that’s steadily destroying all of time and space. Causing random glitches in reality, it can re-write the world around you in the blink of an eye. The Doctor herself (Jodie Whittaker) is trapped at the end of the universe, but she has a plan: you. She sends you on a mission to retrieve the sonic screwdriver and TARDIS and search across time and space. Because only you can discover the source of the virus and the three time crystals needed to stop it. Meanwhile, she’s on hand to offer you guidance by hacking into radios and televisions.
But in this new version, no sooner have you confronted the Reality Virus’ creator, The First (Adjoa Andoh), and put to the universe to rights then the laundromat television springs into life again… only this time it’s David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor! He informs you that the Cybermen have salvaged the remaining fragments of the reality virus and weaponized them. And with the universe held hostage, only you can save the day… again.
Maze Theory once again shows their mastery of Doctor Who as a concept, providing an authentic Who gaming experience
One of The Edge of Reality’s greatest strengths is Maze Theory’s keen understanding of what makes Doctor Who tick. It’s an understanding they previously showed with mobile game The Lonely Assassins, an effectively horror tinged slice of detective work. And on the wider canvas here they strike a fine balance between Who’s varied elements. Daleks and Cybermen attack 21st century Shoreditch. A mysterious starship adrift in space holds a deadly secret and a little light satire. A night in Victorian London leads to a creepy house of sinister paintings and an underground labyrinth where Weeping Angels could lurk behind every corner. Among the stone temples of a desert planet you essentially shake your first at God and say ‘no.’
And, ultimately, after all the Cyberships and chases through the Chaosverse, the conclusion rests upon a single moral decision. Victory or compassion? Cruelty or cowardice? The overall result is a game not just raiding the Doctor Who cupboard for monster designs, but which truly feels like an interactive Doctor Who story.
The gameplay bears out the same appreciation of Doctor Who philosophy. One of the notoriously difficult things about adapting the Doctor’s universe to the world of gaming has been recreating the Time Lord’s way of doing things. But throughout the game there’s an effective sense of ‘What Would the Doctor Do?’ about solutions to problems. You don’t blow up a Dalek obstructing your path with a bomb but trap it with a magnet, for instance. While later on you don’t blast Cybermen apart, but reprogram their own Cybermats to turn on them. Though for those of a more violent disposition, there is one glorious level where the player has the chance to ‘do an Ian’ and take a Dalek travel machine for a ride.
The addition of brand new levels allows Edge of Reality to change up the gameplay, introducing a greater element of action
There’s also a notable gear shift in gameplay style over the course of the game. The earlier levels bear the mark of their VR origins, with lots of careful exploration and placement of objects. Once you move on to the brand new material though, a strong platform element arrives. There’s much more chasing about with Cybermen in pursuit, and jumping from object to object. It’s a change that both acknowledges the strengths of the different formats, and also keeps the action fresh. The new levels likewise mix things up by having the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctor begin to show up in person, rather than just on screens or as holograms. More challenging than Cybermen or Daleks, they do admittedly look slightly more like their action figures than the real thing. But nevertheless very handsome action figures it’s a joy to suddenly find yourself face to face with.
But it also can’t be emphasized enough that The Edge of Reality is a simply gorgeous looking game. You’re led through a series of stunning environments, with almost every moment of the journey worthy of becoming your desktop wallpaper. Even the console room itself has never looked better than it does here. They’re also pitched exactly right to support the story, from jaw dropping vistas of broken physics in the Chaosverse, to a beautiful but melancholy sunset drenched setting accompanying an emotional David Tennant speech.
Minor frustrations with the saving system aside, The Edge of Reality is a truly gorgeous looking, and extremely playable, visit to the Doctor Who universe
Like any game, especially one just launched, Edge of Reality’s not without problems. A bug in the auto-saving means that if you exit the game upon arriving at the Temple of the First, you’ll restart to find yourself back when you first boarded the TARDIS near the start of the game (though all other save points work correctly as far as Blogtor Who can tell). The game also lacks a Restart Level option. This means you might find yourself trapped neither able to proceed, or die, forcing you to restart the entire game. (Though this only happened to Blogtor Who once).
Most vexing however is the absence of a glossary of controls for the PC version like the ones provided for the console versions. This led to a lot of trial and error in the early levels. In fact, Blogtor honestly still couldn’t tell you how to either remove an item from inventory or throw an object. (For us, a sequence that was supposed to involve distracting Daleks by throwing things so you could sneak past instead involved a hell of a lot of running and retries).
Yet these minor issues can’t detract from Maze Theory’s accomplishment with The Edge of Reality. (Besides, Maze Theory seem to be moving swiftly to provide patches to address problems). What’s most important is that it seems the code for creating compelling, atmospheric Doctor Who games that actually fit into the show’s world has finally been cracked. At long last the question ‘why is making a good Doctor Who game so difficult’ has been laid to rest. Here’s hoping for another entry from Maze Theory soon (60th Anniversary multi-Doctor epic, anyone?)
Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality is available NOW on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC, and will be joining Nintendo Switch on the 26th of October 2021.
For more information, visit: https://www.doctorwhotheedgeofreality.com/