Telltale Games Should Make a Doctor Who Game

Feature John Saavedra 12/19/2014 at 6:00AM

Telltale Games is already tackling Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Minecraft. Is it time for the developer to make a Doctor Who game?

Telltale Games has only grown more ambitious and successful since the release of The Walking Dead point-and-click adventure onto the world in 2012. Since then, the developer has released point-and-click adaptations of Game of ThronesBorderlands, and The Wolf Among Us. And a new Minecraft is on its way, as well. The developer's signature blend of storytelling, puzzle-solving, and unique animation has set them apart and allowed them to conquer the gaming world.

One must wonder, after Minecraft joins the rotation, if the developer has anything left to top itself with. I propose that they tackle Doctor Who next. It's a match made in heaven.  

Last year, we bid farewell to the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith’s portrayal of the iconic time traveler who captured fans' hearts and rejuvenated the character for an entire generation of hipsters. After the credits rolled on "The Time of the Doctor," fans teared up for the bowtie, fez, and tweed jacket of one of the most popular incarnations of The Doctor. Unfortunately, the same level of bittersweet emotion did not translate to the video game world, which saw the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s adventures way too soon.  

Doctor Who has a rich video game history, but in recent years, the more contemporary helpings have certainly dulled out the future of the franchise. 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 wife, 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.

Telltale Games is the master of the short-form episodic video game. The only introduction this studio needs is a few hours spent with the popular point-and-click adventures that have expanded on virtually every aspect of storytelling of their respectives licensed properties:

Telltale's The Walking Dead introduces the dread and moral compass that are at the center of the comics, but have been missing in other video game adaptations. Game of Thrones is the first big adaptation for that series, and it couldn't be in better hands, as Telltale isolates one House from the famed fantasy tale and unfolds an epic story of love, loss, and betrayal through family drama. Tales from the Borderlands is a lot of fun, and hits its target when it comes to fan service, something this series is very, very good at. The Wolf Among Us is basically a Sherlock Holmes detective game that takes place in the fantasy realm. It is perhaps the best example of the detective/puzzle-solving mechanics that the developer has been honing for the last couple of years. 

Drama, adventure, depth, moral dilemmas, wacky fan service, detective work -- these are all ingredients of a Doctor Who episode done right. Telltale has proved time and time again that it can deliver all of these elements with style.

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. 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. 2014 was a very kind year for Doctor Who. After all, Doctor Who received another soft reboot, as a new Doctor entered the TARDIS. Under Capaldi (Twelfth Doctor), the show has reached a brand new popularity and his quality of work has already become a memorable part of Whovian fandom. Series 8 has just ended and a highly-anticipated Christmas Special is on the way. Things are looking up for The Doctor.

The soft reboot is the perfect time to introduce new games for fans who miss adventuring with The Doctor. 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.