At some point, every ardent Doctor Who fan has imagined themselves appearing in an episode of the show, battling against aliens and ultimately saving the Earth from certain doom. With Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins, you can finally achieve that dream in a sequel to one of the finest episodes since the reboot in 2005, Blink!
That's right. We're returning to Wester Drumlins! Well, remotely, at least. The game kicks off with you discovering the phone of Larry Nightingale before UNIT member Petronella Osgood tasks you with rooting through his private texts, photos and browser history to discover any clues that might explain his sudden disappearance. As you've likely guessed from that description, it's a found phone game.
Most of your time is spent texting Osgood as you work together to unravel the mystery. You're given a list of responses to choose from, but these merely determine whether your character comes across as nonchalant, terrified or just plain stupid in different situations. But that's completely fine, it still feels like you're in an episode of Doctor Who, and that's all I was hoping for.
There are plenty of Easter eggs to uncover and little nods to the show throughout that make the game incredibly easy to recommend to fans. But therein lies a slight issue. Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins revels proudly in fan service to such an extent that it becomes an infinitely harder sell to anyone who's never touched the franchise.
I'd argue that all you really need to do is see Blink, which you can watch on BBC iPlayer if you live in the UK. It holds up magnificently as a standalone episode of the show. The only detail you need to know is that the Doctor is a time-travelling alien who cuts about the universe in a blue police box, and you're good to go. But even so, it still seems like a game that was created for existing fans rather than trying to entice new people into watching the series, given the focus on story and references over gameplay.
Even battling against the Weeping Angels themselves isn't a particularly enthralling experience. In truth, it feels more like fighting an early version of the internet, where pop-ups were rife and most of your time spent browsing the web was trying to close them all. So it's nothing to write home about, but undeniably provides a sense of involvement in the adventure and occasionally manages to pull off some creepy moments with the titular lonely assassins.
And that's the entire point of the gameplay. It's there to make you feel immersed in the experience, as though you're actually scouring someone's phone for important details after being plonked in the middle of a Doctor Who episode. It works a treat, and the three hours it takes to complete the story will be gone in the blink of an eye... (sorry).