When I slip on the virtual reality headset I'm dropped into a London back alley. Bags of rubbish pile up against the walls, there's an abandoned car almost lost under a pile of packing pallets. In fact, if it weren't for the flying saucers and blood red sky, I could almost think this wasn't a Doctor Who game.
And Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time is very much a game, not simply a virtual reality experience. Since the launch of the Oculus back in 2016, there have been a number of television or film tie-ins that have been short experiences that give you a taste of a world you're familiar with. The Game Of Thrones Ascend The Wall Experience, for instance, where you stood in a virtual elevator at Castle Black and rose up the wall, getting a view north and south over Westeros. Edge Of Time will be much more substantial, offering, I'm told, roughly three hours of play.
In the spirit of the series, Edge of Time is an adventure game that puts the focus on puzzle solving. In my short time with the game, I had to cobble together a transmitter to call the TARDIS out of nothing but scrap in the alleyway. Using the Sonic Screwdriver I was able to pull a satellite dish off a wall above me, open the hood of the abandoned car and get at the battery, and jury-rig them together with an old radio to build the signalling device.
The London back alley is a humble beginning to an intergalactic space adventure
It was very simple and straightforward as puzzles go and the voice of the 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, was guiding me through every step. But the section I was playing was very early in the game, and made to act as a tutorial. I was told things would get more complicated (and less reliant on the Sonic Screwdriver) later in the game.
I switch on the transmitter and the TARDIS fades in with the familiar grinding siren that we've been hearing coming from our televisions on Saturday evenings for years now. It's a real joy to see the blue police box up close, to be able to walk around it, open up its doors and see first-hand how baffling the interior dimensions of it are. I was rushed through its doors, escaping the alien ships that had begun to circle above, but I'm told that you'll be able to play with every part of the TARDIS, turn its dials, pull its levers, wind its cranks, and pilot the time machine.
I only had a brief time with Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, but what I played was extremely promising. Playing games in VR is immediately absorbing. It's still a novel thrill to be able to stick your head up close to an object, pick it up with your virtual hands, and toss it around the environment. That sort of inquisitive play fits in well with Doctor Who, a series which has always celebrated curiosity.
Never turn your back on the Weeping Angels
Plus, what I saw of the game didn't include any of the series' most famous creatures. Many of whom I can't wait to meet face to face. Except maybe the Weeping Angels. I'm not sure I can stomach facing those terrifying stalking statues.
Virtual reality headsets are built to transport you to new worlds. Every time you slip on the headset you find yourself in a new place, one that has a remarkable sense of presence. No, you aren't actually there but for a moment you can forget that. It makes a perfect fit, then, to pair a technology that moves you between worlds, with a television series that for decades has been hopping between time and space. This could be an fascinating Doctor Who game if developer Maze Theory can pull it off.Will you be picking up a VR headset to play Doctor Who: Edge of Time? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: BBC