- Developer: Maze Theory
- Publisher: Maze Theory
- Release date: 12/08/2021
- Price: £9.99 / $12.99
- Review code provided by Maze Theory
Introducing: Doctor Who The Lonely Assassins Review For Nintendo Switch
I’ve watched Doctor Who since I was in middle school. It was one of those series that I was introduced to by my mother as she had been a fan of the original run and I happened to watch a few episodes along with her early in the Tennant era. From there, I started to explore the series myself. I admit that I am far more familiar with the show in its post-2005 revival incarnation, but that’s all I really needed to know going into this game that was based entirely in it. There have been plenty of games based on the series, so let’s find out if The Lonely Assassins are something that holds up to Doctor Who’s long lasting legacy.
The Lonely Assassins is a bit of an interesting beast when it comes to the angle that it is taking. On one hand, it’s a game that is explicitly a sequel to the famous 2007 episode of Doctor Who “Blink”. An episode that is widely regarded as one of the best of the modern era and gave birth to one of the series’ most iconic monsters. This would imply that it is a game that is meant mainly for those who are fans of the series and have seen a good portion of it. Yet on the other hand, you play this game from the perspective of someone who has never heard of The Doctor and has never encountered any of the sci-fi monsters that the series is known for. This means that a lot of the aspects of the game get explained as though you have never watched the show. This can lead to fans going “Yeah, yeah, I know. Just get on with it!” It’s not uncommon for a Doctor Who story to have to get a character a little up to speed, but this game seems to try and dance around things just a bit too much. I mean, you put a weeping angel on the store page and the game icon on my switch, there’s no reason to have the characters pretend that this is anything but the work of a weeping angel.
That being said, the story does function as a pretty good sequel to the original episode, all things considered. Since this is a game where you play from the perspective of someone going through a lost phone, the scope of what you are able to see and any danger that you might directly be in is a little more limited, but as a game going for a smaller scale, it works fine. The element of danger is brought in by adding in some of the additions that were made to the lore of this monster later on, additions that I personally don’t like, but I can see how they were useful for the purposes of gameplay. I won’t get into it too deeply, but let’s just say that the monster is coming from inside the phone.
The characters that we are given here are a fairly likable bunch and I don’t think that there is anything about them that I outright disliked. Sure, some of them don’t always make the best choices, but I can’t say that anyone acted expressly dumb. The main one that you are going to be interacting with over text is Osgood and she’s perfectly fine for the story that the game is trying to tell. Perhaps a little too, “this is what we think quirky is,” for my tastes, but it’s not like she was annoying or anything like that.
Like I mentioned, this is a game about going through the phone of a man who has gone missing after a series of strange occurrences. That means combing through photos, emails, and texts to try and gather clues that you can send off to be analyzed and open up more of the phone. A nasty little bit of corruption has managed to get in there and lock off some parts to you, which is a bit of a problem when you might be on a time crunch. It’s pretty clear that this was made for a touchscreen phone first and foremost. While the switch does have touchscreen controls on this one, if you’re playing with controllers, then it’s one of those cases where you have to move a cursor around in order to make your selections. However, I wasn’t entirely bothered by this. Everything responded quickly and I played entirely on the tv and never felt like I was moving too slowly.
There are some light puzzle elements where you might have to find one thing in the phone and then enter that information in on another screen or where you might need to think about where to search for a particular piece of information. These are never the most challenging things in the world, though. For me, the challenge more came from having to flip back and forth through several different screens in order to remember things enough that I could enter them without having to write anything down. It’s blatantly obvious whenever there is something to discover on the screen because you will get a pop up in the corner that encourages you to scan this section in order to collect evidence to send to Osgood. I don’t get the impression that difficulty is what they were going for here, but more of an interactive story, so I am more willing to forgive the lack of a challenge.
Well, there is a little challenge in one way in that there’s a baby scavenger hunt in the game. There are six instances of the Tardis to find in images and webpages and the like. Finding all six of them or not will determine which of two epilogues to the game you get, the one where you find everything being determinedly happier than the other. I did find myself a little frustrated by this. You see, the last place that the game makes an autosave is at a point where you can no longer submit information to Osgood. This means that if you missed just one, finish the game and then boot it up again to grab it, you cannot submit it. Submitting these is how the game tracks if you found them or not, not just finding them. So, if you missed one and want to get that better ending, then you are going to have to play through the game from the start again. This isn’t much of a burden since Lonely Assassins is fairly short, only a few hours of an experience, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t frustrating when I realized what had happened.
Don’t Even Think About Blinking
The visuals were simple since it’s mostly going through phone screens, but there were some fun little glitchy things that the game did for the sake of spooks that were fun. There were one or two jumpscares that did actually get to me a little. I was pleased to see that there was some use of footage from the old Blink episode, specifically a fairly iconic clip from David Tennant’s performance. However, that did make things a little strange when The Doctor calls you at the end of the game to confirm that you did a good job and it’s actually Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the character. It’s to be expected since she is the current carrier of the role, but it was a little jarring to have her roped into what was otherwise a story that entirely featured another actor’s performance.
The sound design here was fine overall. The lack of music was a little disappointing, but I could also see any background track that was put under this game getting repetitive really quickly. The sounds the phone made were a nice touch, though. They’re not realistic sounds that a phone would make, but they were a series of nice little beeps and boops that never got too repetitive.
The vocal work by all the actors was great too. There were times where things could feel like they were getting a little cheesy, but that wasn’t actually a bad thing. Doctor Who as a series is one of those ones where a little cheese isn’t a bad thing to see here and there. So even if things got that way in the game, it was so much in the spirit of the parent show that I couldn’t get mad at it at all.
If you Blink You’re Dead
I did run into one problem while playing the game where playing a video clip for a second time right away after the first led the game to freeze up, needing a restart from the home menu. However, repeating the action did not provide the same result, so I am willing to let it slide since it may have just been a freak one off occurrence. Otherwise, everything about this game ran perfectly fine for me.
This is one of those games that I find it hard not to recommend to Doctor Who fans who are interested in gaming. It’s just the kind of experiment that works in the same way that Blink was an experiment that worked out better than anyone could have expected it to. I personally find the price to be just a touch too high for the amount of gameplay that you are getting in this one. There’s not a ton of replay value to be found here aside from picking a few different dialog options, so unless it’s a shared family switch, this one might be something you play only once and then never again. However, I am also well aware that this is a case where you are not only paying for the game but for the brand name that goes along with it. Still, it’s a game that’s so accessible to all levels of gamer that anyone who is a fan of Doctor Who should consider picking it up.
- Excellent Doctor Who storytelling
- Endearing characters
- Follows up to a classic episode in good form
- If you want the second ending you have to play though the whole thing again
- Fairly short for the price with little replay value
- Clearly designed for smartphones first