Doctor Who: The Adventure Game: TARDIS Review

Posted on September 2, 2010 by


Chances are pretty good that if you’re taking the time out of your busy day shuffling about through life like a zombie to read this, you’ve probably read my reviews of the previous two instalments, or at least played them (if you haven’t, go read them now. I’ll wait, ’cause I ain’t going over all the basics for a third time)

Bearing that in mind, this third downloadable episode of Doctor Who plays, obviously, identically to the previous two. Well, it would be rather silly if a series suddenly, drastically changed it’s gameplay style halfway through. As is generally the case with adventure games, we came for the story. And this time around it’s… really very short. The first two games took me maybe an hour to complete each, with the only difficulties arising from my lack of a proper mouse to use with my Macbook for those gorram electrified maze puzzles. This new episode took barely half that time, and the one big draw of it, exploring the ruddy TARDIS was… restricted to two rooms. Huh.

Because, this episode takes place entirely within the Doctors fantastic blue box, and is titled, rather imaginatively, ‘TARDIS’ (at least the last two games evoked a sense of nostalgia with their titles). The TARDIS is travelling through the vortex when, for no adequately explained reason, gets thrown around a lot, goes a bit funny, and then ejects the doctor into the time vortex itself, where he proceeds to just float about, not suffocating or dying in a sequence that is utterly tensionless because, y’know, it’s the Doctor. Amy resets the TARDIS to extent the Air shell around it so he can breathe again, and then goes off to find the parts to make a tractor beam, because Amy is well-versed in highly advanced science and the manipulation of random tools she finds into a convenient device. With the Doctor, this can at least be handwaved by saying he spent a few weeks hanging out with MacGyver, but how does Amy know she needs to find the Master’s Laser Screwdriver (which never showed signs of being able to pull stuff around in space) to insert into the console and suck his tweedyness back into the TARDIS? (And no, the Doctor doesn’t tell her what to look for, apparently she just has a spider-sense or something).

While rummaging through the Doctors stuff, she knocks over a vase and unleashes a terrible entity that eats time. The Doctor really should look into better security for things like that, it’s very irresponsible just leaving them in vases. So from there it’s up to Amy and the Doctor to re-capture the entity and save the day, and then after that you’re left to your own devices, which basically involves looking at what all the buttons on the console do (which I admit is quite schway, were it not for the rather sparse look of the centre console compared to the previous model) and then, when ready, a time mini-game where you fly the TARDIS by running about pressing buttons and pulling levers. The ending presumably leads directly into the fourth and final episode of the current series.

There are few puzzles compared to the previous two games, less to explore, and the story is pretty much non-existent. In fact, i’m reasonably sure the story was an afterthought here. Someone clearly just went ‘We need to fill in the time before the fourth one’s ready, lets have them wander about the TARDIS for a bit’. And my god, if it isn’t disappointing finding out that this game, based inside the TARDIS, explores all of TWO. ROOMS. One of which we’ve seen in nearly every (if not every) episode of the series on TV. WHAT!?

If you play all of the episodes together at once, this one will be pretty okay. It’s only function seems to be to waste time till they’ve finished the final episode, seeing as they managed to screw up exploring the TARDIS itself. But played on it’s own? Which many will given the months in between each episode’s release? Insubstantial. I know I shouldn’t make a fuss because it’s free, but screw it, this game wasn’t finished. It’s possible that i’m feeling somewhat fatigued by a series of games that never tries anything new, and is starting to feel like DW in name and appearance only. I didn’t even notice the background music this time around, so I can only assume there either was none, or my brain just filtered it out. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan’s performances were adequate, though they had a touch of Heather Mill’s spare leg about them.

An amusing distraction for half an hour, and adequate continuation of the series, but insubstantial on it’s own.

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