Doctor Who: The Mazes of Time offers great dialogue, good puzzling, and lousy controls.
If you travel in sci-fi circles, there’s an incredibly good chance you’ve already met The Doctor. He travels through space and time, anywhere and anywhen you can imagine – and now he’s landed his adventurous blue box on your favourite iOS device!
Available for both the iPhone and iPad, Doctor Who: Mazes of Time offers a new adventure for The Doctor and his companion Amy Pond, sending them to a variety of historical and alien settings in search of a family that’s been abducted by Daleks. Longtime fans will no doubt recognize the villains at play here; Daleks, Cybermen and Silurians. If you’re not familiar with Doctor Who though, don’t worry. The story is paper thin, making it perfectly safe to newcomers.
Gameplay consists of The Doctor and Amy exploring a series of rooms, with each room presenting an environmental puzzle of sorts. Initially these start out simple – push a block, flip a switch – that sort of thing. As the game progresses though, a good deal of variety is thrown your way. Sliding blocks, magnets, and even Pipe Dreams style puzzles all make their way into the fun.
If there’s one word that sums up the gameplay experience in Mazes of Time, it’s ‘teamwork.’ Players will be able to switch between The Doctor and Amy with a simple tap of their icon, and the two will need to work together to solve many of the puzzles in the game. Amy may need to stand on a switch, for example, to open a pathway for The Doctor. Each character has their own particular skillsets too – The Doctor can climb over certain things and push heavy boxes, while Amy is able to crawl through particular sections and walk across crumbling ground. Switching between characters and playing to each of their strengths is essential to completing each puzzle.
The puzzles offer up a good deal of variety (and become rather challenging by the end), yet the real star in Mazes of Time is the dialogue. Character chatter, especially in a licensed property such as this, is usually bland at best. Thanks to a sharp writer who understands the series, however, Mazes of Time captures the witty banter and personalities of the show perfectly.
But while the writing is sharp and the puzzles fun, Mazes of Time is far from flawless. The controls, while totally functional, lacked the precision that was needed in certain situations. Some stages offered intricate puzzles that might take several minutes to complete, yet one wrong step courtesy of the clumsy character controls would mean having to start all over. When it came to gameplay elements like walking along walls, for example, or navigating narrow passageways with life-ending dangers on all sides, it was nearly impossible to keep The Doctor on the straight and narrow.
The music in the game does a tremendous job of capturing the spirit of the series, but by contrast, the visuals are totally generic and uninspired. Rooms are made up of little more than colored squares and simple set pieces, and the animations on the Doctor and Amy are just as stiff and uncomfortable as the Cybermen they’re fighting. And while there are voice clips for Daleks and Cybermen, neither the Doctor nor Amy deliver their witty dialogue using anything other than on-screen text.
Doctor Who: Mazes of Time is an enjoyable romp for fans, but at the end of the day, there is simply too much frustration to be had with the controls to give this a solid recommendation. With roughly five hours of gameplay, Doctor Who fans will no doubt get their money’s worth, but if you’re not already a fan of the series we’d advise giving this one a pass.