Doctor Who: The Adventure Games Episodes 1 - 3

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Sumo Digital

Publisher:    BBC Multimedia

Released:  June 2010

PC Requirements:   Windows XP/Vista™/Windows 7™, Pentium IV 2.8 GHz or 100 % compatible CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 2.0 GB or more of hard drive space, DirectX 9.0





by flotsam


I have been a watcher of Doctor Who since the days of Patrick Troughton (and have since seen some of the original episodes with William Hartnell), sometimes a die-hard fan, other times a casual acquaintance, occasionally completely disinterested. I remember it was compulsory viewing when I lived at a University college with 200 or so other males, no doubt helped by the introduction of Leela as the Doctor’s companion of choice. I don’t remember watching much at all of Colin Baker, and almost nothing of Sylvester McCoy.

Since the television series was resurrected in 2005 after a hiatus of 15 years or so, I drifted back to it. I would describe myself as a regular watcher on a casual basis – never making too much effort to ensure I caught the current episode, watching when I could, and catching up on DVD from time to time when I felt the urge.

I have seen all of the fifth and most recent series, which features Matt Smith as the Doctor, ably assisted by the rather delightful Amy Pond (played by Scottish actress Karen Gillan). It is these two characters - both in visage and voice - who populate the recently available Doctor Who: The Adventure Games.

Three “episodes” are available so far – City of the Daleks, Blood of the Cybermen and T.A.R.D.I.S - and a fourth is on the way. As I was aware they were reasonably short, I determined to play and review them in one go. It proved a mixed blessing.

The games are indeed short, and (except for the creeping) are aimed at a more casual game playing audience. The situational puzzles are basic, and require very little thought to solve, and the outright puzzles are repetitive and lacking a little in imagination. The first puzzle in all three games is the same type (connect wires on a circuit board) and within each game the same puzzle is repeated two or three times, although with increasing difficulty. The second game offered the most interesting challenges, but there weren’t nearly enough to make it truly interesting from a gameplay perspective.

The second game was also the longest, although long is a relative concept. I reckon it went for about 2 hours, the first about 90 minutes and the last was under an hour. The fact that they are available for free in the U.K. and for a small fee in the rest of the world means it’s hard to gripe too much about length.

I will gripe a little more about some other aspects. I had to download some missing DirectX .dll files, despite the download including DirectX files, and the second game locked up at the same point every time. Uninstalling and reinstalling got it going, but I don’t know how or why. Voice in the first game was only on one channel, was in stereo in game two, but back to one channel in the third.

Exterminate! Exterminate!

No-one could complain however about the choice of antagonists. The Daleks and the Cybermen would probably top every fan’s list as the adversaries of choice, only bettered by being present in the same episodes (which on TV they have been). They look and sound as they should, and their presence alone lifts the appeal of the first two games.

The third game, though, falls horribly flat. It could have been so much more, as it takes place wholly inside the TARDIS, but it is genuinely dull. Not because there isn’t someone to vanquish, but because the interior of the TARDIS has been bled of any sense of wonder, and despite being a relative dimension in space and essentially limitless in size, the only place you can go (apart from the control room) is a rather uninteresting drawing room. Yawn!

There are lots of trinkets and things in the drawing room, spoils from earlier adventures, so if you are a fan you may get a little more out of exploring the room than I did. You can also find cards scattered all over the environments in every game, which build up your card collections, and which contain facts and information about characters and events in the Doctor Who universe. It prolongs the adventure if you want to just search to find the cards, and should you want to try and find them all it adds a little to the challenge in the first two games, given the creeping involved. It also appears that the cards don’t always show up in the same place, so in that respect you could play again simply to try and find all the cards hidden in other places.

As well as cards there are objects which trigger a “fact”; it could be about London buses or the origin of the Daleks. Like the cards, these are not essential to playing the game, although a quiz about the Doctor’s adventures across the years is part of the third game, and it is quite possible that finding the "facts" in the third game will increase your ability to complete the quiz. Otherwise, it's multiple choice so just pick another answer and do it that way.

Watch out, Amy!

Twice now I have mentioned creeping. In the first two games there are a number of occasions on which you have to avoid detection by timing your movements in getting from one place to another. Daleks and Cybermen move around as well, and each have a field of vision which you need to stay away from. You can see that field as a green cone, sweeping back and forth, so you can see where you need to move to avoid detection. So long as you aren’t “hit” by the cone, meaning you can follow along behind, you won’t be seen.

If you are seen, it’s usually the end, and you get returned to the start of the challenge. If you run away quickly, however, and can get out of sight in a hurry, you may avoid what will otherwise be your demise. There are other things to avoid as well – stationary snapping plant-like organisms and rotating sentry beacons.

You get to play as both Amy and the Doctor, although you can’t swap between them at will. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes the other. When playing as the Doctor, Amy is usually following along behind, making the creeping a little more challenging as your timing has to allow Amy to get out of the way as well.

Movement is either mouse or keyboard. While I generally prefer the mouse, it was a little sluggish and not as well suited to the creeping parts as the keyboard. Interaction with the environment is via the mouse.

The denouement of each game is a timed event. These may well provide the most “challenge”, especially for players who don’t like such things, as the time allowed is not at all generous. Failure just means automatically trying again, but even when I knew the route to escape through the Dalek sensors and up the ramp to safety, my Quake trained reflexes took more than one go to do it in the time allowed. I confess I am a lot older, and the sluggish controls didn’t help (I stubbornly persisted with the mouse) but in each game the time available seems only slightly more than the minimum required.

Best seen as a budget priced extension to a popular TV series, this set is probably for Doctor Who fans who likes a more casual gaming experience (with creeping!).


In the U.K., Doctor Who: The Adventure Games can be downloaded for free from the games' website.

The games can be purchased via download at Direct2Drive.


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