Doctor Who Adventure Games: City of the Daleks

The first of the BBC’s Doctor Who Adventure Games is out and, if you’re in the UK, you can download it for free from the Doctor Who microsite. It’s currently available for PC, with the Mac version coming on the 15th of June.

I played it through on Saturday night (well, it was that or watch Britain’s Got Talent) – so what’s it like?

The story is that The Doctor and Amy arrive in London in 1963 but all is not at it should be. Instead of exploring a swinging city they discover the entire planet has been taken over by Daleks and most (possibly all) of humanity wiped out. So begins a session of sneaking past Dalek patrols, solving point and click puzzles, and navigating maze mini-games. As you proceed through the story you’ll depart from Earth and explore Skaro, the Daleks’ home planet, to find out how they’ve altered time and find a way to put it back.

The story’s not bad, actually. You should be able to get through the entire game in an hour or so, so don’t expect it to be an in-depth epic, but since this is meant to be an official part of the series we can assume the story explains why Amy didn’t recognise the Daleks in Victory of the Daleks. It does feel kind of like a television episode, but with you playing your part instead of just watching while it happens in front of you.

My computer (I was playing it on a laptop) failed the compatibility test because the processor is slower than required, but all that happened was the graphics were turned down to “medium”. At that level the graphics were acceptable. The characters were well recognisable and the Daleks still looked good. Actually, one of the effects of playing City of the Daleks is that I feel better about the new tutti-frutti Daleks than I did on their first appearance. They initially seemed totally ridiculous, but now I’ve seen them a bit more they aren’t so bad.

So the graphics were good enough, but the sound was better. The musical score is just wonderful. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan both lend their voices to the game, although I think you can tell they haven’t done video game voicing before. They seem a little unnatural, but once again I came back to the fact that I got this game for free… if you don’t count my TV Licence fee.

I did, very much, enjoy exploring the Dalek city of Kaalann. It was nice, in a strange way, to see the Emperor again, but surrounded with new style Daleks. I was a bit confused, though, about something called the Eye of Time. This is apparently a space/time event that the Time Lords harnessed… which sounds very similar to the Eye of Harmony, a black hole the Time Lords harnessed to give them the energy for their time travel experiments. Have the Who team decided to just change stuff without thinking anyone would notice? Or are they just calling everything the “Eye of xxxxxxx” these days? Dunno – but I kept thinking there had been a mistake somewhere along the way.

Oh yeh, I nearly forgot to mention the controls. Most of the control is by mouse, although keyboard alternatives also exist. The stealth/sneaking/hiding sections worked well, while the point and click puzzles tended to be a case of opening the inventory and using x on y. The maze mini-games were a bit tricky with a laptop trackpad, as I tried to guide a small item around a maze where touching the walls would result in failure. The controls are obviously as simple as possible to allow children easy access to the game, and generally they work well. There are just a few moments when you wish they were more precise.

In general, though, City of the Daleks is a good effort. It’s excellent for a free game, and great fun for Doctor Who fans. I think if I weren’t a fan I’d have lost interest, and if I had paid for it I would maybe be a bit miffed at how short it is, but I enjoyed playing it through. If you’re in the UK, head on over to the Doctor Who site and grab the game – don’t expect a super-high quality product, but do expect to have a bit of fun.

I’m looking forward to the next episode already. How about you?

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  1. I stole my sister's Windows laptop for a bit (mac version on the 15th July) to give it a play… It's not a bad game, I found the controls a little bit of a pain, navigating around Dalek's vision with one character wasn't too bad, then stupid Amy Pond would just walk straight through it and then get shot!

    My main issue; it has been repeatedly mentioned in various episodes that Skaro is Time Locked… If they can visit a Dalek city, they can also therefore visit Gallifrey. Which would be cool, however would leave a very large plot hole.

  2. Hi James – yeh, I found myself having to anticipate the Daleks' movements to get the Doctor through as early as possible, and then Amy would make it. She goes us caught more than a few times though!

    Good point on Skaro being time locked. There's probably an explanation, like “the writers thought it would be cool” ;) If the Daleks have the Eye of Time (have you heard of that before) though, could they just recreate the planet? I reckon it really is just that someone forgot Skaro was inaccessible.

    I double-checked the Mac release date. The site's definitely saying 15th June, so you won't have quite that long to wait. I think I'll be playing the whole series on PC though – my Mac is a bit of a dinosaur.

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