Review: Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth (DS)

Some time after saving the SS Lucy Grey in Doctor Who: Return to Earth, Amy and The Doctor travel to the Lake District to witness the last moments of the Earth before savage solar storms make the planet inhospitable for a few thousand years. While admiring the view, the TARDIS is taken and used as part of the cobbled-together ship – the SS Lucy Grey. In order to get the TARDIS back, the Doctor and Amy will have to help the Lucy Grey take off before the solar storms hit the Earth.

Evacuation Earth ditches the…”action”…of Return to Earth and goes for a more puzzle-oriented approach. Like true gentlemen, the Doctor and Amy will help with even the most mundane tasks like spotting a certain fish, choosing the right plant and sorting out a drawer alongside the main objectives such fixing the ship’s engines and protecting the ships from meteors. While there are a few different types of puzzles, stacking shapes together and making a circuit from points A to B by rotating squares are very overused throughout the game.

You discover puzzles by tapping in the correct places in the background, as well as talking to people. Moving location is done by pressing on a pair of shows on the bottom corner of the screen, then pressing an arrow in the direction you want to move – you’ll end up in a new place with another, usually well-drawn, background. When you’re given a puzzle you get told how many credits you’ll receive for the puzzle – the higher the picrats, the harder the puzzle. Getting an answer wrong and the amount of credits you’ll earn will lower.

Puzzles are controlled only by the touch screen, and a lot of them are hugely disappointing – the puzzle for the Doctor blasting asteroids away from the ship was simply the aforementioned rotate-the-tile-so-there-is-a-circuit-from-one-square-to-another. The majority of puzzles are ridiculously easy, while there are a couple of optional 25-piece sliding puzzles that are rather hard unless you know the special trick to beating them. Once you submit an answer, the TARDIS will fade in and out three times before telling you if you’re right or wrong, with a voice clip from Matt Smith or Karen Gillian accompanying it.

The main puzzles should be simple enough for most kids around the ages of 8 and 12 to complete, but if they get stuck then up to three hints can be purchased to aid them. There are also a couple of minigames. The Sonic Screwdriver is used to fix machines, for this you’ll need to guide an energy ball through a maze of obstacles, similar to the mode in the Wii game. The other minigame is utterly bizarre, and shows a complete lack of knowledge of the Doctor Who franchise – lockpicking. The Doctor has seemingly forgotten that his Sonic Screwdriver’s primary function is to unlock locks, instead Amy uses a lockpick to get past locks. It also seems like a really odd thing to include in a game aimed at kids.

Before each chapter, you are treated to a still-image cutscene fully voiced by Matt Smith and Karen Gillian. Surprisingly, these are very charming and funny. With a few pop culture references – the Doctor has Daft Punk stored on his Sonic Screwdriver – and a couple of interesting twists, the dialogue is quite enjoyable to read, and is easily the best part about the game.

While Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth never reaches impressive levels, it’s still perfectly enjoyable, especially for kids. It’s amazing that an acceptable game like this comes from the same development team as the atrocious Wii game. It’s just a shame that to make a good game, this adventure of the Doctor and his number one apprentice has to plagiarise one of our favourite DS games so much – and it comes nowhere near to matching the greatness of those games.

Graphics: 4 / 5
Sound: 4 / 5
Gameplay: 3 / 4
Playability: 4 / 5
Lifespan: 3 / 5

Pros:

  • Entertaining story
  • Good bits of voice acting

Cons:

  • Gameplay is completely plagiarised.

Final verdict:
An interesting story filled with basic puzzles. There are no original ideas, and the gameplay is a carbon copy of a professor and his impressively-sized hat.

6/10

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