Let's call Doctor Who: The Adventure Games my biggest surprise of 2014 so far. I knew the game existed and was always tempted to purchase it. I'm a big Doctor Who fan and that's justified a lot of shopping my life so far. But the reviews were mixed, at best, and I just didn't want to chance it. Then the game appeared in a recent Humble Bundle and I was willing to toss a few bucks to charity to finally play the game. I'm happy to report that Doctor Who fans won't be disappointed.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is a stealth/puzzle/adventure game where you can play five brand new stories in the Doctor Who universe. The cast at the time of development--Matt Smith, Karen Gillen, Alex Kingston, and Arthur Darvill--actually recorded brand new scripts for the games and they're really good.The animation is a bit on the uncanny side (just a little off from realistic), but it fits the sci-fi style.
The gameplay is easy enough to pick up, but hard to master. You wander around the environments using WASD and the mouse, trying to find your target objectives. The game automatically switches into stealth mode when you're trying to avoid detection by Daleks or Cybermen. There's a clear visibility cone indicated onscreen that makes it easier to determine your path. Actually navigating it in time is a different story.
One of the more interesting elements of the game is the companion aspect. When you typically do a stealth mission in this style of game, NPC characters are not effected by the challenge. Here, you have to make sure Amy and Rory stay out of the path of danger, as well. They split up soon enough for separate missions, but until that point, you have to leave enough time for your human friends to catch up.
The puzzles are variations of standard game designs, like mazes, image matching, and connecting wires. They do get a bit repetitive, but at least the game ups the difficulty each time. You'll start with one item to get through a maze, then progress to more items with more challenge-ending obstacles as you advance in the story.
You can also collect different educational items throughout the game. That sounds worse than it is. You pick up Doctor Who trading cards explaining the history of characters and items featured throughout the show and find historical facts about London, science, and science fiction throughout the environment. The game was originally available for free in England thanks to the BBC, so educational elements are a given.
The real draw are the stories and they're great. The game is broken up into five episodes and they're strong fan service. You'll fight all the major baddies you want to: Daleks, Cybermen, Entity, Vashta Nerada, and Sontaran. You fly in the TARDIS, use the sonic screwdriver to fix things, and laugh at the wibbly wobbly timey wimey-ness of it all.
I did a livestream two weeks ago of the first episode, City of the Daleks, and just put up the last video yesterday. You can watch the whole thing to get a feel for the game below.