Doctor Who: The Edge of Time (PSVR) Review

To tie over Whovians between the last series of Doctor Who and the next, Developer Maze Theory and publisher Playstack have released Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, a Virtual Reality game which puts you alongside the female Doctor in an all-new adventure. Combining new enemies and puzzles along with some fan-favourite foes from the series, play your part as the new assistant or watch as the Earth and everything around it fades away into the darkness.

What I was expecting when I went into the game was a light-hearted and child-friendly experience filled with comedy, silly moments, and fun. However, due to the nature of some of the ‘creatures’ you’ll encounter, the game makes a U-turn and actually feels more akin to a horror game with mild jump scares and moments of tension and dread. I won’t lie, I was a little on edge whilst playing through certain scenes due to my wussiness over jump scares and fear of the unknown. 

Although, I completed the two-hour experience last night and I’m glad I did – here’s what I thought of it…

Doctor Who The Edge of Time 1

I’m just minding my own business, washing my pants…

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Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is an interactive game which pens you as a new assistant to the Doctor, albeit a temporary one and not one who’ll stay with her long. You’re picked up in the laundrette, whilst you’re washing your dirty pants, yet you should really have taken them with you as you’ll need a new pair once you’ve ventured through chapter three! Although the Doctor isn’t present throughout the game, as she’s being held in another dimension, we do get a glorious hologram of Jodie Whittaker’s face along with a fully narrated adventure with her (she’s the current Doctor, if you don’t know). So, she asks you to travel to three locations to find Time Crystals so that you can bring her back to save the universe. 

Along the way, you’ll make your own new friend, a companion if you wish, who’ll help you out when the Doctor can’t. Not only will you get to drive the TARDIS, in a perfect recreation of the latest design, but you’ll get to use the elusive Sonic Screwdriver and even jump into the cockpit of a Dalek as you drive around and see just how much fun it is to ‘Exterminate’ other living beings – no wonder they’re constantly doing it.

Despite the playtime clocking in at around two hours, it’s still a really fun adventure which Whovians will love, complete with various easter eggs from the previous series’ and a new adventure set within the Doctor who universe – although it’s not directly related to the latest series so no prior knowledge (other than the Doctor is Jodie Whittaker) is needed. 

Doctor Who The Edge of Time 2

This was a fun puzzle which had me thinking for a while…

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Gameplay
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time confused me at first. I thought this would be a game for the kiddies, bright colours and witty remarks aplenty. However, walking through a dark forest at night, with only a torch to guide me, as creatures scutter and jump out in front of me with big red eyes, didn’t really make me feel ‘happy’ and ‘safe’. Not to mention the terribly horrific Weeping Angels which make an appearance (those who have seen the show will know what I mean – and in VR!) as well as rather creepy and disturbing voices and a *spoiler* which I want to just destroy for giving me multiple jump scares in a row! However, I’m sensitive to these aspects so your average gamer will find it more acceptable, I just didn’t see the series as a jumpscare-featured game. But, it’s different and it worked.

Each location requires you to obtain the Time Crystal and then get out of there, sometimes by solving a puzzle or performing stealth against a bunch of enemies. I only had one issue throughout the whole game, the puzzle in the forest. This puzzle was a little tricky but I eventually understood what I had to do (as I hadn’t seen a key aspect to the puzzle), which gave me an “OMG, have I really been sat here for twenty minutes when it’s that easy” moment. My one annoyance, which is where the identity crisis came in again, was the constant hints given by either your companion or the Doctor.

Pretty much every time you approached a puzzle, either one of them will ‘hint’ at what to do next, eventually blatantly telling you what to do in an effort to not only push you in the right direction but hand you the solution and call you a dummy. I would have worked out the solutions on my own had I been given the chance, but the game wanted me to move on – well, I guess the fate of the universe was at stake so I shouldn’t have been wasting my time trying to smash a bunch of pots for a trophy, this isn’t Zelda! But, it’s a sharp contrast to 18 Floors, an escape-room game in which you’re given no clues or hints about what you’re looking at, requiring you to look around and discover clues and the puzzles on your own.

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Yes, my thumb is stuck up the nose of a giant Jodie Whittaker holographic face…

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The VR
Despite the gameplay being a mix of scary moments combined with puzzles – and some really fun low-gravity moments (I love it when you can throw things and watch them float around), the main feature is the Virtual Reality implementation. I’ve not used my PSVR headset for a number of weeks now and stepping into Doctor Who: The Edge of Time left me swearing a lot and gasping in awe. I can’t recall the last time I’ve been in the virtual world on the PS4 and had it looking this good. Sure, the geometry around you in the environment is rather basic, especially in outdoor areas with terrible pop-in and distant blurring, but the indoor and smaller locations were great.

The fact you could read all the posters in the laundrette with ease, read the writing on the back of pictures as if it’s in front of you, and examine objects up close and feel like your really there, increased the immersion to a whole new level. Unfortunately, it also made the spooky moments much more realistic as well – but that’s a good thing in most people’s books, I guess! Although the game is set in new locations we’ve not seen on the show before, albeit with some familiar enemies, the developers had creative freedom over creating an atmospheric and newly-designed environment for you to explore, all of which were fun to walk around. 

My only negative for both the gameplay and the VR aspect is that I would have loved either more locations, smaller ones set within one or two rooms so that the visuals stayed at a high quality, or more puzzles within each location. Again, going back to 18 Floors, that game launched with only two floors playable, yet it gave around six-eight hours playtime due to the TARDIS-like floors being rather big and crammed full of puzzles to solve and things to find. Doctor Who: The Edge of Time felt more like an interactive adventure where I’m along for the ride, especially when the voices in my head(set) are practically pushing me and telling me what to do next. 

Doctor Who The Edge of Time 4

This reminds me of ‘Alien’

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Comfort and movement woes
The dreaded thing about any VR game is, ‘how does the game control’. Well, in this case, not the greatest. First of all, comfort – you can teleport or teleport AND utilise smooth walking. Thankfully, the smooth walking is like Skyrim, you hold the button on the left controller and whichever way you point the lollipop (Move Controller), you’ll move or strafe in that direction. Turning can be done on either controller with the Cross and Circle buttons (which is great) and you have an option of either smooth turning or snap turning at multiple degrees, both with or without blinders (dark edges around the sides to reduce motion sickness).

So far, so good right? It has everything you’d want – lots of choices based on your VR experience and ability to move freely or not. The issue lies in the extra controls. Both turning and walking smoothly have a speedometer, either low, medium, or high – with high being the ‘fastest’ you can go. Now, I know the developers don’t want anyone being sick whilst experiencing their game, but the ‘high’ setting on both is very, very slow. It took about five seconds (maybe more) to do a 180 when using smooth turning on the highest setting – I felt sicker due to the slowness and having to move around whilst still turning due to how slow my character is at rotating their body! 

As such, I did something I never do, I enabled snap turning at 30 degrees and used that instead – it was so much faster!

Despite this issue/design choice, which I hope can get an update to make it a little bit faster, I managed to play through the entire experience without nausea setting in or finding myself stuck due to mobility issues. The overall game is very well polished and looks great in VR – I’d even go as far as saying it’s one of the best looking games within PSVR which I’ve played so far (and I’ve played a lot). You also have the ability to interact with a decent amount of the environment, both for trophies and not, such as picking up items to look at them, smashing things, eating biscuits, and even buying soap (which I’m not sure the purpose of is, yet)

Doctor Who The Edge of Time 5

EXTERMINATE!

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Issues
I have three issues which I’ll tell you about – but they were all were ‘fixed’ by restarting my PS4, so they may be an issue only on my side. However, if you experience them, know that restarting your PS4 should fix it. Also, I’m on a PS4 Pro with Supersampling turned on (as this can sometimes be the culprit for VR issues).

1. Bye-bye subtitles. I always turn on the subtitles, I don’t need them, but I like to read them and check they are acceptable for those who do need them. They work well in Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, pinning them in front of you no matter where you’re looking and presented in a way that you can easily read them without any eye-straining. However, playing the game from the start had the subtitles vanish on me once I got halfway into the second chapter. They just wouldn’t show up – even if I turned them off and on again. As I said, a restart later and they were back on and never left my side – so it’s either a glitch or my PS4 just didn’t want me to read.

2. The Daleks ‘Exterminated’ my PS4. At one point you’re riding around in a Daleks shell, shooting anything that moves (that’s fun). However, there are a number of weapon power-ups scattered around which you can shoot to increase your firepower. Whilst playing this segment, it crashed with a blue screen and closed on me. I played it again, the same thing happened in the same part. I played it a third time but I DIDN’T pick up the power-up and… the game worked fine. This was also after restarting my PS4 though, so I’m not sure if restarting the console fixed it or refusing to pick up the power-up and making the level a little bit harder for myself was the reason it didn’t die on me. So, if you have the same issue, either don’t pick up the power-up or try restarting your PS4.

3. Unable to Move! Once the game died, thanks to the Dalek segment, I loaded the game straight back up, as you do. However, my Move controllers no longer worked. I opened my headset to take a look and both lights on the lollipops were turned off. I pressed the PS button to go back to the PS4 dashboard and the lights came on – entering the game again caused the lights to go out. This is strange as the game was turning the controllers off – this may have been in relation to the crash though? I found out at this point that you can use a DS4, so I used that – until it crashed again and I restarted my PS4 (I only restarted it once, but this point is the same point in all three issues). Once the PS4 was back on, the Move controllers now worked fine.

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So, if you have an issue, close the game and restart your PS4 – it should resolve the issue (if it’s any of the above). 

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This particular destination looks really good in VR thanks to it’s smaller rooms.

Technical
I’m really impressed with the visuals and audio within Doctor Who: The Edge of Time. I love that they got the latest Doctor to reprise her role within this game as you usually get stand-in actors or people who sound very similar but just aren’t right. Also, the writing is on-point with the same silly quips and jokes which you’d expect from the TV show. Seriously, Whovians will love the entire experience, as will teenagers and adults who like the TV show. I would say children but the PSVR usability age is 12+ and I feel some of the jumpscares may be a little traumatising for younger gamers. Seriously, if your child doesn’t like the Weeping Angels on the TV, please don’t force them to play this game…

The music is as you’d expect – like it’s been ripped from the ‘Doctor Who soundtracks’ department, with everything sounding as it would on an episode of the show – with one big oversight, the music doesn’t fade or blend. There are moments where you’ll just finish a point where the music was playing quite intensely or dramatically, then it’ll just stop when you go into the loading screen, leaving you with silence. I would have loved it if the music blended into a loading tune or gradually faded out and into the next scene’s music – anything but a cut to silence. This obviously isn’t an ‘issue’ but it did feel like an oversight and something that could hopefully be adjusted to make the loading screen blend more?

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Visually, as I said previously, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time looks great in VR. There are a few different locations, each with their own designs and enemies to face off against. The attention to detail on things people probably won’t look at, such as the flyers on the wall and the items in the old house, is very good and everything was clear and legible through the PSVR headset. Despite the game going for a creepy experience, rather than a jolly one, I thought the atmosphere was really well done with all of the various aspects coming together to create a unique and exciting Doctor Who adventure.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion
Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is a VR experience which all Whovians and casual fans of the show should play. If you’ve ever wanted to feel what it must be like to be the Doctor’s companion, rushing head-first into danger as you blindly do what she tells you to do without questioning her thought-process, then this is the place to experience it. Although the game is rather short, and technically only has three and a half environments to explore throughout its five chapters, I thoroughly enjoyed finding the easter eggs and solving puzzles within each location. Thanks to the Weeping Angels and various jump scares, I’d recommend this for the older gamers, rather than the young ones, but I’m sure they’d get just as much enjoyment watching on the Social Screen and offering help as you look around. 

If you’re looking for something to satisfy your thirst for Doctor Who until the new series starts next year, and you have a VR headset, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time is sure to entertain and fill that void. 

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

£19.99
7.5

Final Score

7.5/10

The Good:

  • - Very good visuals (indoor areas)
  • - Voiced by the current Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
  • - The puzzles are fun and some require you to look around for the answers
  • - Uses assets from the show such as music and sounds
  • - Makes you feel like a companion to the Doctor

The Bad:

  • - The movement controls are very slow, even on 'High'
  • - I wished the companion and the Doctor would shut up and let me figure things out for myself
  • - There is pop-in within the larger outdoor areas
  • - Short playing time at around two-hours to complete
  • - Jump scares (not affecting the score but it wasn't what I was expecting from a Doctor Who game)
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