Doctor Who – The Adventure Games: Blood of the Cybermen

This is proved again when The Thing is thrown into the dialogue with as much subtlety as a flying breeze block – it’s not cool, in fact it comes across as a bit desperate. The script is also unimaginative in the extreme. This game is lacking in surprises – so it would be remiss of me to spoil it here, but when you find out what is going on, you’ll see that it’s lacking in any kind of originality, and resembles fan fic of the pre-adolescent variety. These games are being presented to us as being firmly part of the current (or just finished) series of Doctor Who, but I can’t imagine that storytelling as poor as this would ever have made it to our screens. It’s a bit odd that a writer of Phil’s experience could produce such a stilted effort, but I guess it could be to do with writing for a game, where the writer is essentially scripting links for gaming sections.

So, onto gameplay. Notwithstanding my compatibility problems, I did make the effort to complete the game, so how does it stack up? Again, the answer is not well. We start off with a simple puzzle concerning how to revive somebody who’s been knocked out (his name’s Mister Chisholm, but unfortunately there’s no sign of Arthur or Terry), and the answers to the puzzle are exceedingly well signposted. There’s a balance to be struck here – you want kids to be able to progress through the game, but you don’t want it to be too unchallenging. Unfortunately the game plumps for straightforward ease, which is a mistake.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games - Blood of the Cybermen

A little further on, and we’re presented by a path blocked by ice blocks. Stroll up to the block and click, and hey presto – the Doctor slides it to where it needs to go. Why not have the player figure out the best place to push the block to? It wouldn’t slow the game down too much, but would allow the player some sense of achievement, and more to the point, involvement. Another problem with the puzzles is an age-old one, that has afflicted point and click (or even text-based) adventure games for as long as they’ve been around. What happens if I try and zap this computer with the Sonic? Oh, the Doctor tells me it’s not a good idea. Why not? Seems like a plan to me! Why not have the Doctor try and do what we want, have it go wrong, and then tell me it was a bad idea?

Innovative play is not in any way rewarded, and this is reinforced at one point where the Doctor point-blank refuses to open a locker, forcing Amy to run outside in the cold, in her mini-skirt, to find the code. Oh, by the way, the TARDIS keeps Amy warm when she can’t be bothered to find a warm coat. Bet you never knew that before, did you? More puzzles crop up later in the game, and some are mildly diverting, but none really challenging or habit-forming.

Now you might fairly say to me “Now just you hang on a second you grumpy old sod, these games are free! How can you sit there slagging off something that Aunty Beeb has given us for nuffink, and gratis and all?” But, I don’t care. I really don’t.

Yes it’s free, yes it looks and sounds great. But let’s be straight about this. Doctor Who is the best television program on TV, and it therefore makes sense that a good Doctor Who game could be truly, truly great. I want to see that game, I want to play it, and I want the gaming world to be drawn towards the wonder of Who.

We’re told more of these games are on the way. That’s great. But please, please – sort out the glitches, get the scripts right and inject a bit of passion and fun into the games. And then I’ll happily eat my fez.

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