Doctor Who: Edge of Reality | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Maze Theory
  • Publisher: Maze Theory
  • Release Date: 25/11/2021
  • Price: £19.99 / $24.99
  • Review code provided by Maze Theory

Introducing: Doctor Who: Edge of Reality Review

The last time that I reviewed a Doctor Who game, I mentioned that I had fallen off of the series in the early 2010’s. Well, now as I gear up to review Doctor Who: Edge of Reality, I am little more caught up with the modern adventures, just finishing the 12th Doctor’s run in my rewatch and just about to move into the era of Jodie Whittaker. As such, I was getting a bit of an itch for another Doctor Who game, and having the change to jump on this one was exciting as could be! Even more so, because Edge of Reality is, in essence, a remixed version of Edge of Time, a VR game from 2019. Now, I never played Edge of Time, but it’s my understanding that this game has had some adjustment to transfer it from the original format and some additional story content. So, let’s take a look at what this Nintendo Switch edition has to offer. 

I was just doing my Laundry

Doctor Who: Edge of Reality starts with you hanging about in a laundromat when you are contacted by The Doctor (the 13th to be precise). Surprise, surprise, but something has gone a little wonky and aliens are showing up all over the place. Turns out that there is a strange happening called a “reality virus” that is causing time and dimensions to shift and warp in strange and unexpected ways, making things difficult to navigate and, thus, more dangerous. After solidifying contact with The Doctor, you’re able to hop in the TARDIS and you are tasked with finding a trio of crystals scattered across various areas in order to set things right again. It’s a fairly short experience, able to be played in one sitting of just a few hours and really ends up feeling like a fairly lengthy episode of the show in some ways, though there are a lot more dull stretches than one would expect during an episode due to the nature of your perspective.

Now, I do want .to get into things a little deeper, which will mean talking about the ending of the game. I will try to keep things vague, but if you are concerned about spoiler talk, feel free to skip on over to the next section!

So, I tend to be a little lenient with Doctor Who writing. On one hand some of my favorite short form stories have come from the series, but on the other, Doctor Who has always had a bit of a campy bend where things aren’t meant to be taken super seriously all the time. Sometimes this can lead to something of a tone problem and that’s what we have here with this story. A lot of the time The Doctor is jovial and in a generally cheery mood, talking about how things are serious, but keeping a light tone and cracking jokes here and there to keep you at ease. However, by the end we are confronting a possible creator of the universe with exceptionally high stakes, on par with a season finale for Doctor Who. It’s a bit of a escalation from what we have been dealing with thus far. The biggest issue comes in with how what you have been doing has been handled. Overall, while your going about did have a purpose, all the effort that you went through to collect the crystals ends up feeling wasted when you find out the real reason for your quest. 

The big addition that we have to the story is a new chapter that involves interacting with the Tenth Doctor. While I do have a big love for this specific doctor, I can’t help but feel that this team didn’t quite have a feel for him. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but something just feels a little off here. It doesn’t help that the chapter ends up feeling rather tacked on, more an attempt to entice players with a fan favorite character rather than anything that sorely needed to be added.

Wibbly Wobbly

Gameplay isn’t the strongest thing in the world with this game. There’s a lot of just walking around with a painfully slow movement speed, picking up items, and solving light puzzles. Doctor Who has never been combat focused so I wasn’t particularly upset about there being a lack of it in Edge of Reality, but the game felt like it was really lacking. It’s not quite a puzzle game, but it’s also not quite a walking simulator. It’s a game that I feel would be quite fun and interesting in a VR experience, but that experience does not give off the same feeling when played on the Switch’s screen or even on my tv.

The game is also fairly obtuse in what it would like you to do. Environments are often quite simple to understand, however, once you have navigated it can be unclear on what you are meant to do in them. There were a lot of times where the game would tell me to do or find something and it would take me a little while to do it, be it because I could not quite find the item I needed, or because I was trying to figure out what the puzzle wanted from me. God forbid I wanted to explore, because if you so much as dawdle a little bit, a voice is, many times, chirping away in your ear reminding you what to do. There are other ways to instill a sense of urgency in your player than having someone constantly telling them to hurry up. For example, I must have failed my first attempt to fly the TARDIS at least ten times and was always told to try again. The simple Simon Says game was easy to understand, at least until the final round where I was meant to pull the big lever in order to finish out. There was no indication that I was meant to pull the level that I could see…

Timey Wimey

Cats? I think?

Edge of Reality is visually a complete mess. It might sound harsh, but it’s true. Edges look ragged in a lot of places. It’s overly dark in others, which certainly doesn’t make finding what you need any easier. Animations of your arms can really stutter and… Well, just look at the image above this section. There are tons of places where many of the textures look like that. Oh, and there’s a decent amount of pop-in. It looks and feels exceptionally cheap. I’d nearly call it a knock off made for a quick buck off people not paying attention if it didn’t have the official branding. I mean, if you’re going to put The Doctor’s giant floating head in the TARDIS, the least you could do is make her mouth movements match up with the lines being spoken instead of a generic loop of her mouth opening and closing.

The sound is nothing to write home about either. Whittaker sounds like she’s not particularly comfortable in the recording booth. Otherwise the music is unmemorable and while it suits what is going on, it’s not like it’s making me pay attention to it in any way that enhances the experience.

Shifting Reality

I mentioned before that the animation of your arms could stutter at times and that is not the only thing that could stutter. This game is quite poorly optimized and I am not sure exactly what the reason for that might be. This doesn’t seem like something that would be very taxing on the Switch’s hardware, so I can’t see any reason why the game should have been running at under ten frames a second the moment that I entered the second major area that the game had to offer. It doesn’t leave a very good impression and just adds to the overall feeling of cheapness that Edge of Reality exudes. 

I’m done with this adventure

I would be lying if I said that Doctor Who: Edge of Reality was worth playing. I think even the most die hard fan would not be able to push through the overwhelming number of flaws that it offers. Are there good moments, yes, a few. I liked getting to pilot a Dalek as a concept and there was a fun idea or two there. It’s always fun to get two of The Doctor involved in one story, but I found this game to be so poorly executed that I was unable to get any enjoyment from it. It’s a real shame too. It’s not the worst game that I ever played, but it is certainly not worth the price that it is going for at the moment. If you’re really ride or die for this series and just want to experience the game to experience everything, wait for a steep sale.

Pros

  • Two of The Doctor involved in the story

Cons

  • Runs poorly on The Switch
  • Gameplay is bland at best
  • Story is just plain messy
  • Gives off an overwhelming feeling of being cheaply made
  • Did not translate well from a VR experience.

Verdict

Doctor Who: Edge of Reality is one of those games that only the most ravenous fans should play, everyone else will be either bored or irritated by it.

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