Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality
Developer: Maze Theory, Just Add Water
Publisher: Maze Theory
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 25/11/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
My love for Doctor Who blossomed with the arrival of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, the height of my obsession being when I was around ten years old. I collected the magazines, plastered my bedroom wall in posters and any family members talking through an episode of Doctor Who was sacrilege! Like countless others, this era is full of fond nostalgia.
Unfortunately, since watching Jodie Whittaker’s first season as The Doctor, I have yet to catch up. She is an incredible actor, but the script has not been up to my taste. After The Edge of Reality was recommended for Who fans by a fellow writer, I took the game in the hopes of my love being resparked. So, did it light up like a sonic screwdriver or was I left with as much emotion as a Cyberman?
A Race Against Time
Your adventure begins in a London laundrette, where reality is glitching around you. The Thirteenth Doctor, voiced by Jodie Whittaker, appears on the television to warn you that these time breaking glitches, The Reality Virus, are affecting the entire universe, and she needs your help to stop it! For example, the usual London has become invaded by Daleks, your first predicament to get out of. Wielding The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, it’s a race against time to save the universe, classic Doctor Who style.
Along your journey, you encounter popular Doctor Who foes like the Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels, playing on fans’ nostalgia for our favourite enemies. I’ve always been scared of the Weeping Angels and having to heed the Doctor’s advice of “don’t blink” was terrifying as they follow you down hallways when your back is turned! Bumping into the Tenth Doctor voiced by David Tennant himself gave me a rush of excitement, taking me back to 2007 in an instant.
As well as this, the main story revolves around a brand new enemy who I won’t spoil, as it’s best experienced as you unravel the tale yourself. It feels very much Doctor Who, if a little cliché, having to take down a misunderstood villain and save the world. But, the original story from Gavin Collinson merged with nostalgia is a great combination. It was fun to explore new locations while encountering known friends and foes. The Edge of Reality is actually meant to build on the previous game The Edge of Time with an expanded story, but having not played that everything was brand new to me.
A lot of the gameplay does revolve around finding items, using your sonic screwdriver, or solving puzzles. There’s a lot of running around too. However, since this game is in a first person view, it does make it feel more like you’re exploring the environments yourself. Though simple to pick up, it does get slightly repetitive. Luckily, there are parts to break this up, such as guiding a Cyber Mat through a surveillance system to disable Cybermen, and controlling a Dalek, shooting other Daleks in your path!
The guidance in The Edge of Reality was also a little strange. There would be moments where you’re given very on the nose hints, basically outright telling you what to do. Then other times after a cut scene, I’d be left wandering not knowing what to do next. It would have been nice to have some sort of checklist or for the hints to be more consistent.
You can tell though since it was originally a VR game, that it has been designed for just that. There’s a strong focus on exploring the environment and having to do puzzles before your eyes. Unfortunately, what you’re looking at isn’t exactly the prettiest sight…
Not So Dalektable
Despite a solid story and gameplay, it could not save how poor The Edge of Reality looks on the Nintendo Switch. Firstly, a lot of the same assets were reused, so even though there was a lot of walking you were essentially going down the same paths and hallways. There were lots of items to pick up, but they were the same books and pots repeated. It felt lazy and made me less likely to want to explore.
Don’t get me wrong, each environment was different from the last. One moment you’d be on a ship, the next in a temple, and even climbing up floating objects into the sky. Sadly the magic is ruined when things don’t render, ships in the sky completely disappear out of view when turning the camera, and when stepping out into my first planet the frame rate is so bad I can’t even use the capture feature on the Switch to share it here. The Doctor character models also looked questionable and the kill animations laughable.
The biggest rendering issue, particularly when it came to objects, was within a particular puzzle. You had a set of four books that matched a diagram, showing what order you had to burn them in. Each book was meant to have a picture on them, but the quality was so bad I couldn’t make out what they were. This meant I had to guess. I also had to restart the game at one point when the books weren’t reappearing after burning them.
Bow Ties Are Cool
One reason to explore the worlds despite this is the collectables. There are pieces of paper scattered throughout which form a journal of improbable things. You can open this to discover more about your encounters, and it’s a nice way to learn more facts as a Doctor Who fan to expand your knowledge. There are also familiar items to pick up, such as the Eleventh Doctor’s bow tie or the Fourth Doctor’s scarf, viewed in a Miniscope on the TARDIS.
A redeeming factor in The Edge of Reality is its soundtrack and audio. Fitting with the emotion of each scene, triumphant when The Doctor is giving a speech and tense when sneaking around Daleks, it’s straight from a Doctor Who episode. Being able to use licensed sounds too like the vworp of the TARDIS and the buzzing of the sonic screwdriver was very satisfying to hear! The terrifying sound of a Weeping Angel scraping across the stone floor behind you was incredibly effective too.
Worth a Trip Back to the Who-niverse?
Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality is a great dive back into the Who universe for fans. It feels quintessentially Doctor Who in its original story, while favourite foes and a popular Doctor ooze nostalgia. Unfortunately, my experience was greatly ruined by its performance on Switch, which has affected my rating. I am a strong believer that graphics do not have to be hyperrealistic to be admirable, but when there are performance issues that ruin immersion, that’s when it becomes a problem.
For this reason, I’d say to avoid the Switch version, as I’m hoping other platforms will be better. It’s a solid title to pick up for any Who fans and has me itching for a rewatch.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2 out of 5
You can purchase Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.