Doctor Who is a license built on narrative, mystery, and humor, but 2D puzzle platformer The Eternity Clock's combination of spiteful puzzles, fun-sapping bugs, and a phoned-in plot fail to do the revered BBC series justice. Despite some excellent voice work from actor Matt Smith, The Eternity Clock is a clumsy but sometimes-funny platformer wrapped up in a crude Doctor Who skin.
6379774The Doctor has some impressive upper body strength.None
The Eternity Clock starts in the traditional Doctor Who fashion, with the Doctor--who's modeled on and voiced by actor Matt Smith--crashing the TARDIS on Earth and puzzling over the cause. It's your job to find out what went wrong and ultimately save the universe. Initial sections of the game are promising as you guide the Doctor around the Bank of England's underground vaults and as Smith delivers the Doctor's eccentric quips with a suitably tongue-in-cheek quality: "Who designed this place? Escher?" There are opportunities to play as River Song too (Alex Kingston). In a particularly noteworthy sequence, River sneaks past unwary guards by kissing them with hallucinogenic lipstick--a rare mix of stealth and feminine wiles.
But it's not long before the cracks begin to show. One of the game's biggest problems lies in the ham-fisted design of the various puzzles. First, there are those that mix nominal explanation with sadistic checkpoints. They involve a lot of running around not knowing what to do, but with none of the fun that accompanies such hijinks on the show. The worst offender involves a four-story building, the Cybermen army, and a security room. You have to escape the building, but first you must unlock the exit. This requires breaking into a seemingly impenetrable security room on the top floor. The only way to get in is to wait for the Cybermen to climb all four floors of stairs.
Infuriatingly, the tin men slog upstairs like geriatric Daleks, leaving you to twiddle your thumbs for three whole minutes. This isn't even the worst part, because it's anything but obvious how you're supposed to get rid of the Cybermen hordes you were forced to let reach the room. Since you have little health and lots of enemies to contend with, you'd think the game might help you out with a hint, but no dice. As a result, this puzzle will likely take several retries, and here's the kicker: every retry sends you right back to the start, meaning you have to endure those three minutes of nothingness each time you die. Every single time.
I'll have this fixed in a jiffy.
Beyond absurd checkpoints and a lack of help, that puzzle and others like it expose some basic design flaws. If a game includes full-screen minigames while insta-death enemies are around, it's only fair for it to let you know when those enemies are getting close. If a game forces you to run away, it should indicate where the insta-death enemies are. These aren't exactly subtle mistakes. Other puzzles, such as crate pushing and weight balancing, are lifted straight from Puzzle Platformer Design 101, and the Doctor's sluggish dragging animations completely destroy the pacing of the game. There are stealth puzzles too, which involve pressing L2 to duck and knowing how to time a run, but these are just as dull.