The latest Doctor Who game provides a thrilling modern journey into terror
Since they became Doctor Who’s resident games master in 2018, London based software house Maze Theory have given themselves impressively ambitious goals. And certainly, reviewers hailed their first release, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, as the most polished and well designed game yet set in the Doctor’s universe. But that game, and its later Time Lord Victorious expansion, weren’t very accessible. They were VR games, requiring an investment in equipment before you even got to the game itself. But The Lonely Assassins, the new Weeping Angels-centric follow up, is different.
After all, all you need to lose yourself in its world is a phone. A phone to frown at, to meticulously investigate every image, recording and message on, and occasionally throw across the room in terror. Because this isn’t just any old Doctor Who game. It’s a direct sequel to Doctor Who’s most terrifying episode ever, Blink. Yes, the Weeping Angels are back. And this time their prey is… you.
Part of what makes the game so successful at shredding your nerves is how incredibly immersive it is. They’ve teamed with Kaigan Games, following up Kaigan’s earlier SIM and Simulacra, with Doctor Who’s own found phone game: The Lonely Assassins. It doesn’t transform your phone into the control deck of a starship, or a command post for your invading armies. Rather it turns your phone into… a slightly different phone. In this case, the phone of one Larry Nightingale, once again played by Blink’s Finlay Robertson. Having found Larry’s phone, you receive a call from a mysterious woman called Osgood (Ingrid Oliver). Quickly you’re dragged into a mission to discover why Larry’s phone was lying in the street. The contents of his phone are your only clues as you try to retrace his steps and solve the mystery he was chasing.
The Lonely Assassins continues to build the tension and dread while providing genuine jump scares
In terms of gameplay, Doctor Who fans who aren’t avid gamers need not worry. The same concept that makes it so unsettlingly immersive also makes the game itself very instinctive. Scrolling through a mobile phone’s browser history, text messages, and photo galleries is everyday stuff, after all. Or it would be, if it wasn’t for the threatening voicemails, increasingly panicked text messages, and mysterious figures in the background of photos. You’re called upon to do a little light detective work, such as gaining access to one online account with information you track down in other messages and videos.
But for the most part you take the clues you find and forward them to Osgood for advice. And even though you get a choice of responses when messaging with her, it’s clear that like so many role playing games, all options eventually lead to the same place. Overall, The Lonely Assassins feels less like a video game and more being totally immersed in an actual episode of Doctor Who.
It’s this carefully constructed atmosphere that’s the game’s greatest strength. Blogtor Who chose to start playing The Lonely Assassins in the way nature intended – after midnight with the lights off. And as with the best horror movies, the sense of dread slowly but steadily creeps up on you. You’re given just long enough reading about mysterious disappearances and the spooky Wester Drumlins, before you notice photos changing when you look again. And after all the intense screen gazing it’s a genuine jump scare when you receive your first actual phone call, full of static and distorted voices. And discovering Larry has filled his phone with photos of Weeping Angels ratchets up the tension, but it will still stop your heart when the inevitable happens.
Maze Theory have cracked the mystery of creating a game that recaptures the unique essence of Doctor Who
The Lonely Assassins works very effectively on two levels. For non-fans, it’s a voyage of discovery into what the Weeping Angels are and how they operate. Meanwhile, for those steeped in Doctor Who, there’s anticipation of the terrors to come. There are also innumerable easter eggs, such as Larry’s emails with a familiar face from the Doctor Who universe, webpages recording sightings of a mysterious blue box, and even a reference to the upcoming Time Fracture live experience.
Doctor Who video games have typically struggled with translating the show’s unique essence. But The Lonely Assassins provides a completely interactive experience that’s finally cracks the formula. Series 13 is filming now, planned for broadcast later this year. But The Lonely Assassins essentially provides an extra episode of Doctor Who at its behind-the-sofa best.
As part of the launch celebration, you can download Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins now for 25% off!
Android & iOS £2.99 £3.99 / $2.99 £3.99 | Steam £4.49 £5.99 / $4.49 £5.99
They’re also offering players to win an exclusive signed Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins poster created by iconic Doctor Who artist Lee Binding. All you have to do is follow @Maze_Theory on Twitter and use the hashtag #angelsarecoming