- Lots of characters from the TV show
- Co-op might be worth a look for some
- Riddled with bugs and glitches
- Platforming is dull and uninspired
- Puzzles are repeated over and over again
- Checkpoints are poorly positioned
When you approach a movie/TV tie-in, you’ve always got to do so with a hint of caution. I needn’t tell you that these kind of things normally turn out to be more catastrophic rather than merely just bad, and Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is unfortunately no exception. It’s a shame really as in the build-up it seemed to have some promise, combining platforming and puzzling with the style and charm of the Doctor seemed like a winner, it’s just a shame then that the game is broken in so many ways.
The real problem is that it doesn’t seem entirely sure what it’s trying to do and lacks any real sense of direction. BBC Worldwide were clearly looking to appease fans of the TV show by sticking in just about every well-known enemy that they could, but it all feels too disjointed to produce a meaningful experience. The Cybermen, Silence and Daleks all crop up, but they just feel like they’ve been shoehorned in for the sake of it.
During the course of the game you get in the shoes of the Doctor, alongside companion River Song. They’re both voiced by the real-life voice actors so there’s an air of authenticity around it, but cut-scenes are few and far-between and there seems to be pretty much no connectivity between anything. Despite time-travelling being integral to the puzzles, you have no control over it, it’s a linear adventure just throwing level after level in your face and forcing you to march on.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was solely the story that had issues, but unfortunately the problems go much deeper. The platforming is more archaic than the Victorian London levels themselves, and animations are so poorly done that the characters look like static cows being chucked through the air as they attempt to grab onto a ledge. It’s extremely fiddly in places too, with imprecise controls often sending you back to where you started, and excruciatingly unobvious routes through the levels at times.
On the puzzling side of things, it initially starts off fairly promising, with a few clever head-scratchers giving you an impression that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Sonic Screwdriver is used to breach locked doors, and throughout the adventure you have a selection of other mini-games to delve into. Then the reality hits you; These same puzzles plague the entire game, and I needn’t tell you that doing identical puzzles for around ten hours isn’t exactly the most joyous pastime in the world.
I’ve saved the best for last though, that being that the game has level-breaking glitches. Early on I twice found myself zapped by a Cyberman and sent into an eternal loading screen, forcing a reset. Other times, sidekick River Song will just not follow and since she’s required for a large number of 2-player sections, you’re forced to kill yourself and restart. It verges on making you want to do the same in real life too.
Checkpoints can also be an issue, you’re sometimes forced to redo puzzles you’ve already completed just because you got murdered in the proceeding section. A prime example is around the midway point where you’re tasked with four consecutive puzzles as you scale a tower, while River takes on enemies using shield cover that doesn’t always work and invariably ends up in your demise. The end result is lots of unnecessary hassle, and the need to resist the temptation of hitting the delete button. The game only saves between levels too, some of which can last upwards of twenty minutes. And in this game, those twenty minutes will make you feel like writing to the BBC demanding a partial life refund.
Perhaps the only feasible way that the game may be worth a look is if you have someone willing to plough through in co-op with you. It’s offline only, but it means rather than alternating between characters, you can work in tandem to get things done quicker. It makes the whole time-dimension thing a bit more relevant, but it’s still far from making the whole package a worthwhile investment.
Even for the Doctor’s most die-hard fans I’d struggle to recommend The Eternity Clock. Despite including all the familiar faces you’d ever need, it feels like a broken mess with a shoddy story to boot. It fails as a platformer, gets stale within an hour as a puzzle adventure, and will most likely make you wish you could hop into a TARDIS to travel back to before you decided to waste £13.99 on it. Bearing in mind that this is the start of a trilogy, I sincerely hope there’s significant improvements to the sequels or we could well find a few more titles worthy of extermination.