I’m familiar with modern-day Doctor Who, but I don’t watch it. In fact, I haven’t properly watched a Doctor Who episode since the days when Sylvester McCoy and Ace went head-to-head with a man made out of Liquorice Allsorts.
Back then Doctor Who still felt like a sci-fi horror show for kids, featuring a healthy dose of mortal peril in each episode, but in my minds eye, the episodes were always rather colourful and a touch psychedelic. That’s why I was a bit taken aback by how gloomy Doctor Who: The Edge of Time was. Are the newer series really this poorly lit?
If you want to see what I’m on about, check out this week’s episode of Ian’s VR Corner in the video player below. I took a trip to developer Maze Theory’s offices to record an exclusive Let’s Play of a portion of one of the game’s five levels and this snippet shows off just how murky the visuals in the game can actually get.
The level I played in the video is set in a creepy forest on an alien world and it unfolds a bit like Myst by the way of Slenderman. After leaving the safety of the TARDIS, I had to fumble my way through a dark, twisting forest with only a torch for comfort, all whilst being stalked by aggressive dog-like creatures with glowing red faces.
Then, after a couple of well executed jump-scares, I had to solve a random wire puzzle hidden in a cave, in order to activate an old lift and make my escape.
It all worked nicely and I was suitably immersed in the experience, even if a few graphical glitches threatened to shatter the illusion along the way. My main issue however, was just how incredibly dark and monochromatic in tone it was and this forest level isn’t an exception. One earlier level I played that was set in a London alleyway was bathed entirely in varying shades of dark red, which made it rather hard to distinguish between pieces of scenery and props I could interact with.
Perhaps this is just my fading memories of McCoy’s adventures giving me a false idea of what Doctor Who should look like, but I found myself wishing for a bit more pop and vibrancy to the locations, rather than the depressing gloom that for some reason permeates the game.
I played the demo on a Rift S and was happy to learn that on both PC and PSVR platforms, there will be a variety of control schemes and comfort settings available, from smooth move and teleport through to optional vignetting and click or smooth turning. You can also play the game in seated or standing position so wannabe companions of any VR skill level should be able to comfortably enjoy The Edge of Time.
The people who’ll really appreciate The Edge of Time are the hardcore Whovians, who this game has undoubtably been made for. Maze Theory has spared no expense in making this as authentic an experience as possible, with almost heroic attention to detail when it comes to honouring the source material.
Although you play as a random, emergency companion rather than the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker shows up to lend her voice to the proceedings, which makes things sound nice and official. Plus, the legendary Nicholas Briggs has been employed to once again provide the iconic, robotic screeches of the Daleks. Oh, and there’s also a level that features The Weeping Angels, which are some modern(ish) Doctor Who villains that I am aware of, mainly because people often mention how scary they are. I didn’t get to play that level during my time at Maze Theory, but considering how creepy the forest level was, I can imagine running into those spooky statues in VR being an utterly terrifying experience!
The exterior and interior of the TARDIS has also been accurately modelled using photogrammetry mapping in order to make it feel just like you’re starring in your very own episode of Doctor Who – as have iconic props like the Sonic Screwdriver. Basically, if you’ve ever dreamt of being one of the Doctor’s companions, this is probably the closest you’ll get other than actually landing yourself a role in the TV show.
Those who favour VR experiences over the Doctor’s adventures will probably have a slightly different experience though. Without a love of the source material, the short levels and basic puzzling elements do feel rather underwhelming and while there’s some nice attention to detail in the graphics, none of it is particularly mind blowing, especially when it comes to the muted colour palette.
If you want to explore the TARDIS for yourself, Doctor Who: The Edge of Time will be coming to PSVR, Oculus, and Vive soon.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian’s VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I’ve covered Sairento, Ghost Giant and Five Nights at Freddy’s VR. You can also read our list of best PSVR games.