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'Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock' preview

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Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

© BBC


Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is the latest game in the hit BBC franchise and the first to release on PlayStation 3 and the newly-released Vita. A side-scrolling platformer with puzzle and stealth elements, it's created in collaboration with showrunners and makes use of time travel gameplay for some tense co-operative moments.

Following the likes of The Adventure Games and MMO Worlds In Time, the Doctor's latest foray into gaming is perhaps the most traditional yet for the BBC. Releasing on PS3 and Vita, at its core it's a simple platfomer set within a lavishly created 3D world in the same vein as PlayStation classic Pandemonium, one that's explored from a side-scrolling perspective that shifts the camera at certain moments.

The Doctor and River Song are both playable, with control switching between the two characters over the course of the adventure. While both offer the same jumping, crawling and ledge hanging elements to progress through chapters, each have their own skills to deploy as they travel through time.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

© BBC

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

© BBC



The Doctor and River Song: Two different heroes

Our hands-on suggests the Doctor's segments appear more puzzle and platforming orientated, with scenes that push crates and operate lifts across multiple platforms in order to progress. It's more befitting of the character's sleuth-like skill set, with Matt Smith chipping in with entertaining witticisms as you jump around and taking the time to show off solutions for the trickier and more convoluted moments. The Doctor's psychic paper also features notes from his past self on the current puzzle, acting as a clever hint system for the player.

River Song, meanwhile, gets a little stuck into the action. An early section sees her sneaking past patrolling sentries and light sensors by hiding in shadows and planting hallucinogenic lipstick on prison guards in order to open doors. Each character also has their own item - either a sonic screwdriver or ray gun - that can be pointed around by directing the right analogue stick, and are used to get through specific areas or present clues.

As well as simple but effective platforming sections, the occasional mini-game will rear its head. These puzzles are very similar to those in The Adventure Games, such as matching up wavelengths using analogue sticks or laying down a circuit path by placing tiles in the right order.


While the platforming segments offer a fair challenge - River's stealth section requires a degree of patience to succeed without being frustrating - a few of these puzzles were actually quite difficult, but thankfully you can notch down the puzzle difficulty at any point.

Players working together, hundreds of years apart

Perhaps The Eternity Clock's most interesting feature is when it sees characters visit different two places that play out at the exact same time. With the adventure set in the same physical space across multiple time periods, cause and effect elements mean manipulating the past will see new routes and items open up in the future.

How this works is that either the Doctor or River will time travel into the past and solve a series of puzzles. Once done, player control switches over to the other time period, but you will only have the exact same amount of time that the other character had to undertake their role. When playing through two-player, both the Doctor and River's segments play out simultaneously through split-screen.

While the time-meddling sections appear to be scripted - time corridors will only appear at certain points, and the Doctor will explain to the player exactly what to do in his standard know-it-all way - it's a neat concept that ratchets up the tension and ties into the franchise's time-travelling theme, something few games have so far managed.

'Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock'
'Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock'


Saving the world from the Cybermen once more

As for the story itself, it starts with the Doctor attempting to pilot the TARDIS through a temporal maelstrom and, rather typically, the source of the trouble leads back to planet Earth. Trapped in the Bank of England, he requests River Song's help, and from there the duo work together to unearth the secrets behind the mysterious Eternity Clock and why familiar faces such as the Daleks, the Silence and Cybermen are making a pit stop in London.

Like previous Doctor Who games, not only is everything here canon and written in collaboration with showrunners, but it'll be contributing to the show's fiction. Two new enemies have been created specially for the game, one a powerful new breed of Cyberman and the other the game's final enemy, which is obviously being kept under wraps.

Collectables hidden throughout the game, such as River Song's diary pages, will also expand the character's backstory, with its contents teased to be very attractive to fans of the show.

The Eternity Clock is also something BBC are going to keep running with. While it's a self-contained release, it's the first of three planned episodes to be released over the next year or so, continuing with similar gameplay and an ongoing story arc. This first instalment will also offer standalone downloadable content in the coming months to tide players over.


While it will be the same game for all three versions, the Vita will offer several exclusive features. Front and back touch controls and SixAxis movement will be available at certain moments, and Near allows players to drop medals in geographical spaces for others to collect. Game saves will work in tandem with the PS3 version, allowing the adventure to be continued on the go and vice versa.

While The Eternity Clock is certainly a more traditional game than previous Doctor Who tie-ins, it manages to weave the show's many tropes - multiple characters working together, humorous banter and time travel - in some clever ways. It's a simple platformer at heart, certainly, but one that looks to be polished and pleasantly designed, providing both fans of the show and action puzzle titles something to enjoy.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock will be available on PlayStation 3 and Vita from next month, and followed by a PC release later this year.

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