It has been a rather dismal time for me as a Doctor Who fan in recent years with the TV show at its lowest quality and popularity yet since the show was rebooted and brought back to TV and just 2 years away from the 60th Anniversary. For a while now, and if you have read any of my Reviews of the more recent series, Doctor Who just has failed to feel very “Who” at all. One aspect to the show that has always surprised me is that in this time when gaming has never been better with multiple gaming platforms now excelling over previous generations yet, Doctor Who has enjoyed very little presence if at all on them. Thankfully this has now changed with the release on main consoles and PC of a previously only mobile game for Android and iOS game “The Lonely Assassins”.
I must admit, when this released as a mobile game, I did completely dismiss it with the reason simply being the poor quality of other Who games in recent years so with this finally arriving on Xbox and PlayStation platforms it was time to give it a chance and I am very glad I did. The Lonely Assassins is at its core, a detective game and it is a very good one which uses the setting of the Doctor Who universe incredibly well to bridge at least four Doctor eras. From the marketing poster for this game you will already know that the big bad in this story are the Weeping Angels but it is the superb way in which the story ties in to perhaps one of the best written and executed episodes in “Blink” that really lifts this puzzle solving game up above any other Doctor Who title to date.
This story is set 14 years after the events of Blink and focuses on one of the main characters of that story, Lawrence Nightingale who has gone missing. You the player, have somehow come into possession of his mobile phone which is where all the gameplay takes place as all you see is this phone on your TV/Monitor as you use a cursor to navigate around the different menus of the phone from Chat, Emails, Call history and web browser, finding clues and trying to connect the dots to unlock more of the story and mystery as to how you got the phone in the first place and what has happened to “Larry” himself. Thankfully you are not alone in this mystery as popular character and UNIT Scientist, Petronella Osgood, is also on the case helping as you both work together to piece together what has happened.
I want to avoid talking too much of the story so not to spoil it so will focus on the actual gameplay and I am happy to say, as a detective and puzzle solving game, The Lonely Assassins delivers far more than you would expect from a mobile game ported to a main console platform. The puzzles are very straightforward so this is not one that will leave you making notes and sticking post it notes on the wall to figure out solutions but instead manages to allow the flow of the story and discovery by the player to a very sensible pace and should you lose track of what you need to do or what you should try next, there is a helpful checklist of objectives that will quickly help you get back on course which is great and helps this game be accessible to Who fans of all ages really.
There are times when this will feel a little dated whilst using the phone which is not quite as “smart” as current mobile phones but it does add a certain charm such as when using the web browser to search the history of websites Larry was looking at, it will actually have a loading bar as the screen slowly loads into view, very pre 4G and 5G but does add a quaintness to the feel of the gameplay. Most of the interaction between you the player and Osgood is via text message and usually once you have found a clue to upload to her to progress the story. Solutions often involve the reading of text messages and chat history to reading the websites previously searched on the phone to find a clue that may unlock another item to investigate.
The strength of this game alongside the detective side must be the writing and how it brings together so many elements of Doctor Who that many fans will really get a kick out of, for me personally this has been more Doctor Who story telling in this game that then last series on TV, which I do not say lightly. It uses the lore so incredibly well and often in subtle ways from a simple reference to clever use of a still from an episode to add to this new story. I love how it follows up on the ending of Blink and though The Doctor is not really a massive part of the story, The Doctor is present all the way through it as you work your way through the mystery. I went into playing this game with many doubts and came away from it smiling and rather satisfied.
The Lonely Assassins really is a fantastic bit of Doctor Who at a time when it really is most needed with the current state of the onscreen Who is a bit of a flux with the current showrunner Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker getting set to depart with uncertainty about the TV future for Who. This game however is a delightful way to engage in the lore and universe in a fun way and at a quite reasonable asking price. For me, this transfers to a console and PC setting than a mobile phone and uses the point and click style impressively well.
A must for any Who fan and just remember…..DON’T Blink!