BBC’s Dr. Who has a lot of fans. So it might seem like a good idea to make a game out of this world. But, as with most games based off already existing IP’s, this game just doesn’t do it’s T.V. counterpart justice.
Dr. Who: The Eternity Clock is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer you can play by yourself or with a friend. You will play as The Doctor for some segments and as River Song for others. And if you choose to play through co-op, one person will play as The Doctor and the other will play as River.
And all I can really say is the co-op experience shortens the game. One person can play as The Doctor and the other player will control River Song. Both The Doctor and River have their own segments to play through and it is rare for both players to meet up. This comes off as feeling like Supermassive Games either ran out of ideas or time to finish the game.
It shortens the game and it also reveals balancing issues. One person can finish their segment while the other player is still struggling to finish and meet up with them due to varying puzzles and difficulty spikes.
Difficulty in Dr. Who ranges from far to simple to ridiculously difficult. You can choose your “puzzle difficulty” before you start the game. But that might as well be “frustration difficulty.” I started out on medium and ended up turning it down to easy because certain puzzles became so aggravating I wanted to throw my controller at the T.V. And even then I still became outraged at other puzzles later in the game.
During the third segment playing as River I came across a timed puzzle where I had to connect one light via a series of patterned circles to another light within a certain time limit. The timing of the puzzle is not what frustrated me. What frustrated me was the fact that enemies can still attack you while you’re in the puzzle without any indication they are near you. Imagine coming so close to finish solving a puzzle only to suddenly die and have to re-start the entire segment.
Other mechanics simply don’t work. River has a gun she can use to stun enemies. However, it’s only effective if you hold the trigger to charge it and then wait for a cool-down while it recharges. You do have the option to fire off single shots, but it’s ineffective and brings to question why Supermassive Games even decided to implement it in the first place.
Objectives are also not clear at times and will cause you to go through a series of trial and error attempts before you figure out what your supposed to do.
The game is full of sloppy executions like this. Whether it comes to platforming or puzzle solving. After each one I finished, I felt more relieved than accomplished.
Some levels are flat-out repeats. I ran through the lower level of a city and solved the same pattern of puzzles over and over again until I reached the end.
I also encountered multiple bugs while playing. At one point my A.I. companion refused to shoot the locks on a door so I could hack them, which resulted in some very cheep deaths. Another time, I finished solving a puzzle before an enemy got to me and when I came out, the game froze and I was forced to restart.
Thankfully the musical score matched the game. It complemented the Dr. Who universe perfectly. Although, I can’t say the same for the voice acting which was very hit or miss.
As far as the looks go, Dr. Who doesn’t seem to be pushing the PS3’s hardware at all. Textures are bland and animations are robotic. The game also features a turning mechanic that creates the illusion of 3D as you go around a corner. However, it feels as though the camera is on a bad set or rails and makes rough transitions as it follows you.
I’m sure I would have enjoyed The Eternity Clock much more if it didn’t feel like such a chore to complete. With such frustrating gameplay and poor level design I find it hard to recommend this game to even the most die-hard of Dr. Who fans. Perhaps one day a developer will come along and do right by Dr. Who. But The Eternity Clock is one jump through time not worth taking.