Doctor Who: Why Telltale Games Should Make a Doctor Who Game
The time of the Doctor has come for a new video game adventure.
We've just had to bid farewell to the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith’s portrayal of the iconic time traveler that has captured fans' hearts and rejuvenated the character for an entire generation of hipsters. The bowtie, fez, and tweed jacket of one of the most popular incarnations of the Doctor will be missed. Unfortunately, the same level of bittersweet emotion will not translate to the video game world, which saw the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures way too soon.
In 2009, a UK-based developer Sumo Digital began work on what became Doctor Who: The Adventure Games, a series of episodic games that featured the Eleventh Doctor and his companion, Amy Pond. The four episodes that made up Series 1 were released in 2010, and featured some of the most iconic villains in Doctor Who history such as the Daleks (“City of the Daleks”), the Cybermen (“Blood of the Cybermen”), and the Vashta Nerada (“Shadows of the Vashta Nerada”) in puzzle-centric adventures that served as companion pieces to the TV series.
Series 1 did well enough to justify a Series 2 in 2011. Alas, only one episode was released. “The Gunpowder Plot” featured The Doctor teaming up with the legendary Guy Fawkes to stop the Sontarans and the Rutans from destroying London.
Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, a full-length game, was released in 2012 for PC, PS3, and PS Vita. Eternity Clock introduced River Song, the Eleventh Doctor’s romantic interest, to the gaming world. The story takes place just before the events of the Series 4 episodes “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” where River meets her tragic end. Although the game was meant to be the first in a new series of full-length Doctor Who adventures, it failed to make a splash. There hasn’t been a new game since.
Okay, this is a no-brainer: Doctor Who works best in an episodic format, and the BBC tried to replicate this with the video games. Maybe what they need is a developer that has kicked audiences in the face time after time with compelling episodic games that leave gamers waiting months for another installment.
I’m talking about Telltale Games, of course, the master of the short-form episodic video game. The only introduction this studio needs is a few hours spent with the popular Walking Dead arcade game that shook our bones last year. Telltale has also tackled other fan favorites such as Back to the Future, Fables, Jurassic Park, and CSI. And in 2014, Telltale will release adventure game of adaptions of Game of Thrones and Borderlands.
So why isn’t Doctor Who on the list?
The point-and-click gameplay was basically made for this franchise. The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us ask players to play detective so often, searching for clues across different maps, that I can already imagine The Doctor showing up on a strange new world to investigate a time loop or some other disruption in the time vortex.
I see it now: a new miniseries every year with a narrative arc much like the TV series, but less of a companion piece to it. So Telltale could go anywhere! Like the comic books, every new series could feature a different Doctor. Perhaps this is the chance the Eighth Doctor has been waiting for, or maybe we’d finally get to see the War Doctor on the battlefield. Endless possibilities – which is basically the show’s motto. Based on how popular and awesome The Day of the Doctor was, putting more than one Doctor in an episode might be a home run for Telltale.
Of course, we’d love to see a digital Peter Capaldi, as well. I have a hunch that the Twelfth Doctor will be moving away from recent wacky portrayals and entering more serious territory. A new direction might be exactly what the next video game needs. This is an opportunity to start fresh.
The point is that Doctor Who deserves to be as popular with gamers as it is with the show’s fans. Hopefully, the new era in this franchise will give us this and much more.