I Need A Doctor
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is a ‘found phone’ interactive thriller developed by Kaigan Games and published by Maze Theory for the Xbox Series of consoles. It features an original Doctor Who storyline that continues and builds on the threat of the Weeping Angels as seen in 2007’s episode ‘Blink’. The Lonely Assassins is also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and, somewhat ironically, mobile phones.
The now-iconic season three episode featured David Tennant as the tenth incarnation of everyone’s favourite time-travelling alien on a mission to stop a group of powerful statue-like humanoids taking control of the TARDIS. The Weeping Angels proved an instant, if scary, hit and subsequently returned for several repeat appearances and cameos, I’m sure fans of the series will be pleased to see them crop up again for another attempted reign of terror.
So what exactly is a ‘found phone’ game? Well much like the 90s FMV genre, made infamous by titles Night Trap and Double Switch, players must solve a number of puzzles whilst influencing an overarching storyline told through a series of interactive clips. This is very much a product of the time, switching CCTV footage for smartphones to deliver the same feeling of tension we had all those years ago. And developers Kaigan Games know that having previously worked on similar projects, receiving high praise with Sara Is Missing (SIM) and SIMULACRA.
When initially booting the game it felt a little jarring seeing the outline of a mobile phone in the centre of the screen and nothing else around it, besides a slight border. I do understand the concept of mimicking a mobile phone but did seem a little wasteful only having a rectangular slither for gameplay, I really don’t know what I was expecting to be honest. This was soon forgotten as the ‘episode’ began and instantly gripped me.
The narrative is driven by UNIT operative Petronella Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver), a seemingly unknown voice at the end of the phone who needs assistance in locating its owner, Lawrence. From the tidbits of information it becomes apparent he could be in serious danger, donning my detective’s cap I knew we could solve this mystery together. This is where the heart of the gameplay sits and soon I was snooping around Lawrence’s socials, photos, emails and call history to decipher cryptic clues faster than someone on a Facebook stalking mission. Reporting back to Petronella and uploading files opens up previously encrypted data revealing more potential leads and new avenues for investigation.
Visually The Lonely Assassins does everything it needs and performs well. The video clips propel the narrative and pacing and unexpected interruptions from random contacts make events tense and gripping throughout. The video scenes are well-acted and the voice cast is on top form in realising the characters bringing the story to life. There’s even a few cameos for fans to keep an eye out for. Movement is pinned to a mouse pointer controlled with the analogue sticks, and while it’s more than functional, I would assume that playing with a touchscreen on Nintendo Switch or a mobile phone would be advantageous.
For the money, a reasonable $12.99/£9.99, you are getting an officially licenced BBC production of Doctor Who that lasts 3-4 hours. For completionists and fans, there will be enough reason to replay. The bulk of story progressing interactions come in the form of multiple choice answers and you don’t necessarily need to find everything to progress. While the game isn’t overly challenging, it would simply be a source of frustration and slow the narrative, there is a checklist to keep things on track.
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is a fresh take on the video game franchise that works where others have missed the mark. The ‘found phone’ genre perfectly fits and with creative storytelling acts as an extension to the much-loved show. While the gameplay is limited to simple puzzle-solving and ‘choose your own adventure’ interactions, fans will have a blast unravelling its mysteries in the best Doctor Who game released in years.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, Nintendo, Mobile
Release Date: 12/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, RPG, Puzzle
Developer: Kaigan Games
Publisher: Maze Theory
Download link: Microsoft Store