Dr. Who Adventure Game: City of the Daleks (PC) Review
I’ve been eyeing this title for a long long time. At first, when it was offered on D2D, I decided since I didn’t know the publisher, it was likely not worth my time to try on that service. And besides, I had only seen a few episodes of the fairly new series, and didn’t have a real need to play a game based on the Doctor. A few years later, that changed thanks mainly to Netflix and a new Dr. Who game on the horizon. Seeing the series again in the Gamestop library, I was interested. Seeing each episode sells for $5, I had to try. Listen to me, so you don’t feel the need to follow.
Story: While I am unable to determine when in the season of Dr. Who this takes place, it takes place with the 11th Doctor during season 5 of the new series. At this time Amy and the Doctor decide to visit the year 1963, a time when everything going on makes London not only the coolest place on Earth, but the coolest place in the universe.
But what started as a joyride through time with the worst issue being the Doctor not understanding why no one ever wants to meet Ringo besides him, it quickly turns a lot nastier. The London they arrive in is not the London they expected, but a shambled ruin overrun by Daleks! This was not how time is supposed to work. There should not have been an invasion of this nature, and they sure as hell should not have wiped out almost all of humanity on the planet! Somehow they have altered time, despite no Dalek technology with the ability to do that. So how did it happen? How can it be stopped? It’s up to the Doctor and Amy to figure it out!
The story to this game is structured to be an episode in the series, even if it isn’t actually part of the season… right down to the opening and ending credits. It doesn’t push as many interesting conversations or as much character interaction, however. This was moved aside to make room for the game part and to still keep this game short enough to be an episode instead of a full game. Yes, the plot will feature villains and allies behaving in character, but there really wont be enough of it to make it pop. Compared to it’s TV counterpart, it’s kinda bland.
Graphics: A few years ago, this would not have been top notch graphics, but they would have been fairly standard… and by a few years I mean around 2006-2007. This game was made in 2010, putting it well behind the curve, and it shows. Don’t get me wrong, the world looks pretty good and the Daleks look amazing, but people, especially people who you are used to seeing in the TV show, look more like puppets of themselves then the actual people. Sure you get the expression and the general facial features, but it’s simplified and looks fake…. very fake.
But as I said, that is only part of the game’s look. Everything non-human actually looks good, some pretty good, others (like certain city-scapes) look absolutely amazing. It’s just a shame your two main characters can’t carry the same quality look, but then games have always had a harder time showing humans then monsters or machines or anything of either nature.
Sound: In the sound department, no expense was spared. ALL the voices of all the characters from the show are here and EVERYONE sounds in character to how you would expect them to be. Couple this with the music fitting as it would on TV perfectly and the few unique sound effects fitting just as well, and the sound is about as close to perfect as I’ve heard in a game. This is the one place where this game really shines, so enjoy the really authentic sound of the show. It’s absolutely perfect. Sadly, it’s about all that is really great in this game, however.
Gameplay: The Dr. Who Adventure Games are supposed to be Adventure games. After all, it’s right in the name and what I expected. Sadly, it is not what I got. What I got was a very linear experience which was primarily made of stealth sections, mini games, and the occasional item puzzles which always stayed in one room and almost always resorted to “use sonic-screwdriver on panel” to win. Occasionally the game tries to vary these particular puzzles, but generally that just means doing some simple and fairly obvious thing before using the sonic screwdriver to signify you are done.
The mini games are not much better. Most of the time they take the form of a maze with electrified walls that you must drag-and-drop an item through to either assemble an or extract some device the Doctor is working with. When they do vary from this formula, it is usually even worse.
And finally we have the stealth mechanic, which works well enough. You will see the areas the enemy can see you in as well as a color code to show you how alert they are. Your job will be to get across these areas without entering these fields. But the patterns are exceptionally easy to figure out and really rather boring. But then they have to be for this game to work. The controls are clunky to put it mildly. In an attempt to make the game playable completely by mouse, you basically have turning done by it and the left mouse button walks forward. If you want to interact with something, you have to turn the camera to focus on it till it glows as the selected item. It makes for a very clunky interface, ESPECIALLY as you realize the developers meant for it be used on a POINTING DEVICE. To put it mildly, this game took absolutely no advantage of the very controls it is designed for. It would have played just as well with a controller as it did with the keyboard with literally no adjustments… and I mean a controller with one joystick and 3 buttons, not the modern day stuff we have today.
Bugs: Actually, there were no bugs to speak of in this game. For all the bad design choices, it ran like a top… aside from loading times between the 3 acts.
Overall: This game was a cheap game. In fact, in the UK, it is available for free. It’s us in the States that have to pay anything to play it. And while it MIGHT be worth your time if you have nothing better to do and feel like downloading a free game, it’s not even worth the $5 pricetag it gets here. I do not recommend this game for anybody who has to pay for it. If you can get it free, I still don’t recommend it, but at least I can understand if you are really really really bored with literally nothing else to do.