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Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time

Peter Davison and Christopher Eccleston both triggered theirs by saving their loyal companions from a certain death.

Tom Baker succumbed to his in the midst of preventing the entire universe from being devoured by entropy.

David Tennant, meanwhile, stifled his tears while touching base with an entire ensemble cast, before finally leaving the stage.

Regeneration has always been a pretty big deal in the world of Doctor Who, yet if developer Tag Games has its way, current actor Matt Smith’s departure would come not with the kind of grandiose splendor afforded his predecessors, but via a simple trip into a collection of spikes.

Block transfer

Such a demise would be completely out of step with the typical action in the BBC’s TV series – spikes tend not to rate highly with its fanbase when compared to the amassed armies of the Sontaran fleet or the Raston Warrior Robot – but it does serve as perfect evidence of this Game’s ill-fitted design.

Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time consists of block-pushing puzzles.

Indeed, shoving blocks around to trigger switches is what the game propagates from its first moment to its last, with the simple mazes that form each room taking seconds to comprehend and minutes to solve.

The game comes dressed with Murray Gold’s sublime score and Daleks and Cybermen are present in token form, yet it feels as suited to the Doctor Who universe as say casting Eric Roberts to play the Master in a TV movie would.

Indeed, there’s an undoubted similarity between Paul McGann’s shortsighted adventure on Fox and the good doctor’s debut on iPhone and iPod touch. Both put their own ideas ahead of attempting to fit in with the franchise itself. 

Weapons of women folkIn terms of gameplay, you control the Doctor and his assistant Amy – one at a time – with your goal to navigate both parties to the door at the other side of each level, your actions playing to the characters’ strengths. The Doctor, for instance, can push blocks and climb walls, whereas Amy – weak and slender like women from the mind of a 1950’s chauvinist – has the ability to walk over fragile floor tiles without breaking them and can crawl through narrow passages.

The controls are adequate – there’s a virtual analogue stick for movement, and action buttons appear when needed – though not especially comfortable. Pushing blocks requires positioning the Doctor in the exact middle of a block. Should you position him even slightly off to one side, the icon to push won’t pop up, making the process more fiddly than it needs to be.

Predictable ending

Combining each character’s talents is critical to how you make it through each episode, though it’s only minutes before the formula becomes predictable and playing to its rules something of a bore.

Still, Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time might have gotten away with it were its ties to the series strong. In reality, the deployment of icons from the series are handled with little thought. Patrolling Cybermen are especially placid, acting as they’re nothing more than roving sentries to keep you moving rather than galaxy tyrants attempting to wipe you out. In much the same manner, pushing blocks isn’t something we’d expect the Doctor to be doing. Though there’s a certain mental exertion in solving such puzzles, TV episodes in which the Doctor is thwarted by such physical conundrums are rare. 

Who da man?

The game also makes especially poor use of the Doctor and Amy. The lack of any audio – each character’s dialogue delivered via speech bubbles – is telling too, meaning the occasionally witty remarks by the Doctor loses all impact.

It makes you wonder just what Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time is really supposed to be about. There’s no great plot, we learn nothing new about the characters, and it’s not very exciting. Frankly, the whole affair could have been attached to any TV franchise with two leads.

So given it’s unlikely to satisfy hardened fans of any age, while newcomers are likely to leave wondering just what all the fuss is about, the question that burdens Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time is just who has this particular take on the Doctor been designed to impress?

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