There have been many Doctor Who games that have been released in the past two decades, some have had more success than others but mark my words when I tell you that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is one that’s been worth waiting for.
Attending the grand unveiling of the game at the BBC Media Centre on Tuesday evening, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the release. The Adventure Games, provided free of charge via the official BBC Doctor Who website, are short and sweet, the smartphone games that have been released were slightly limited and let’s not start on Destiny of the Doctors.
But as I was ushered over to the shiny play area where the game was available to be sampled, I was more than pleasantly surprised by not only the level of detail that was in it but one simple factor: it is extremely fun to play. The graphics are amazing, the vocal talent of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston is a joy to experience and the game play is both solid and addictive at the same time. Can’t get River to escape the guards in the Stormcage Facility? I try again, for as long as it takes until I can be reunited with the Doctor. Having trouble getting past a Cyberscout? I bide my time until the opportune moment arises for me to make the best use of the sonic screwdriver.
After sampling the game play of both the PlayStation3 and the PlayStation Vita version of The Eternity Clock, I’m taken over to a viewing area where the Executive Producer of the adventure, Simon Harris, introduces some of the key levels and monsters that we’ll be experiencing. There are Cybermen (with a new take on an old foe), Daleks (with another new design that is yet to be revealed) and the guards at River’s Stormcage prison.
What is unveiled is a wonderful mix of an old school platformer, some wonderful 3D environments, inventive puzzles and a bit of Uncharted (PlayStation 3 exclusive game series) jumping and climbing. I sit and watch in delight as I finally see a Doctor Who game that is worth the wait.
With all the excitement and hospitality taking place, I nearly forget part of the reason that I’m here: to find out about the creative side of things. Some behind the scenes information to put a flavour into the making of this game would not go amiss and Simon is only too happy to sit down with me for a quick chat.
The plot of The Eternity Clock is an intriguing one which will hopefully lead into a bigger story in future releases as Harris quickly informs me:
“The Eternity Clock is rewriting chunks of time…This is planned as the first self controlled story but it’s part of a longer arc we hope to build out so by the end they (the Doctor and River) have some ideas but there’s a much bigger thing afoot…a big overarching plot.”
Clearly a lot of effort has gone into the making of The Eternity Clock; the Doctor Who production team in Cardiff has been involved from the start I’m informed, giving helpful hints and tips along the way and also aligning the game to make sure that it reflects what has happened in the latest series of Doctor Who. Originally, Harris and his team of creatives had a slightly different idea for the story:
“Interestingly enough the very first pitch had one different monster before the Silence had been shown on TV…they [the production team] asked ‘we have this new monster that’s just about to be shown in the first part of series 6 , could you incorporate that into the game?’ So we actually pulled one of the original monsters out and put the Silence in. That had really great ramifications…you have to follow them (the Silence, not the production team) around and keep them in sight otherwise you get reset because you forget all about them.”
This release will be the first of what will hopefully lead to more stories over the next few years, coinciding with Doctor Who’s big 5-0 celebrations. I ask about plans for next year, Simon’s eyes light up with devilish glee. He’s remaining tight lipped about ideas but he does offer:
“We do have plans around Eternity Clock that would tie into the fifty years of Doctor Who. I’m sure we will be doing specific stuff around the fiftieth anniversary, it’s too big of an event in the Doctor Who world [to ignore].”
The preview gave me some truly tantalising clips of what was to come, I didn’t get to see the Silurians or the Silence in action but this just left me chomping at the bit for the release date next month in order for me to download the game as soon as I can. I’m happy, I’m excited and I’m satisfied, it looks like Doctor Who finally has a real, proper console game that anyone can get involved in. Before I left, Simon summed up the reasons why he’s proud (and rightly should be) of The Eternity Clock:
“We’re very happy, we feel we’re hitting a higher quality level then we’ve ever hit with a Doctor Who release before both in terms of technology and the way it feels like a real Doctor Who episode and the way the game play is integrated into that. We’ve got really big plans and if this [release] is successful we’ll get to realise those.”