Currently available as a PlayStation 3 exclusive, the highly anticipated Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is positioned as both a digitally distributed and retail product. The latter of which has been suggested to stand only with limited availability, but given the popularity of its source material you can certainly understand why even a single, short run of physical product would likely benefit both BBC Worldwide and the studio responsible for developing the title, Supermassive Games.
For the most part any fan of Doctor Who who does purchase the videogame is more than likely to be satisfied with the respect given to their beloved franchise, but beyond that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock may have a harder time standing alongside it’s videogame contemporaries. It’s designed to be suitable for fans of all ages, but by the same token it’s unlikely to provide much in the way of entertainment for any true gamer.
A modern platform adventure, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock had a shrewd understanding of it’s audience. Perhaps it’s lessons taught by the Professor Layton series, or maybe it’s a simple product of focus group testing, but Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock offers three difficulty choices which out rightly state ‘this decision affects the difficultly of the puzzles you will face.’ Sadly, it doesn’t do so far as to allow gamers to try a difficulty first and see what option is right for them, but it’s a step in the right direction. Beyond this, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is sadly lacking in innovation however, presenting a by-the-numbers videogame experience.
Playing as the Doctor for the most part of the videogame, players will run and jump their way through 2D platform levels, occasionally encountering obstacles or puzzles that require additional investment. From opening locked doors with the BioShock inspired mini-game to pushing switching and moving crates to solve logistical problems, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock presents the exact same challenges any gamer worth their salt will have been met with dozens of times before. Of course, there are many videogame experiences which do this, and as part of an enjoyable cohesive whole there’s nothing wrong with such familiarity. However, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock relies on this standardisation for it’s entire duration, rarely moving from the beaten track to provide anything more than fan service.
A two-player co-operative mode is also included in Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, but this does little to promote the videogame beyond it’s status as a stagnant portrayal of poorly implemented gaming tropes. It’s essentially a sweetener to the formula that doesn’t help alleviate the bitter taste Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock leaves you with.
In addition to the lukewarm gameplay design there are numerous technical problems with Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock. Aside from the ridiculously long loading times, the mid-level check points are very frequent and at each one the videogame will break it’s soundscape and pause the action, even mid-jump, often causing you to fall short of your target. The audio design is generally rather good, if you can put up with the Doctor’s rather uncharismatic quips, but the constant change of pace brought about by the loading issue is nothing short of infuriating.
Despite showing so much promise throughout its development, Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock delivers an utterly forgettable experience. Its stencil based design and uninspired puzzles do little to promote the videogame as anything beyond a template with the Doctor Who franchise layered over the top. Fans of the series may want to chase down that retail package simply to avoid paying double in a few months time, as ultimately Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a clever piece of fan service, but it’s not a clever videogame design by any means.