Doctor Who has had quite the history of video games since the aptly-named The First Adventure over 40 years ago in 1983. What a history. From the BBC Micro to the Xbox One, from the ZX Spectrum to the Nintendo Switch, from the Playstation 2 to the modern-day laptop or PC setup. And plenty else in-between. But one thing that Doctor Who keeps coming back to is mobile phones again and again. And that is where today brings us to with the upcoming ‘idle’ mobile game – Doctor Who: Lost In Time – developed by Bigfoot Gaming and published by East Side Games.
Coming to mobile devices around the world very soon, the game however has been available as an open access for Whovians in Australia and New Zealand since June. One of the first people to test it out in the UK, however, has been myself. Since the end of August, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out this game in my day-to-day from version 0.27.8 to version 0.29.20. (there’s been a lot of really wonderful tweaking, bug-fixing and new content additions as the time has gone by!)
The Evolution Of A Game’s UI
Of course, the key thing when building a game is to start with the features and the functions… and then improve the UI from there. Bigfoot Games really have shown this well – the early testing in August may not have been the prettiest thing in the world, but the core elements of the UI were there and the functionality was very smooth for such an early build. We’ve seen a few people bring up these earlier images that are already around in official places like Bigfoot’s own website, so we thought we’d present a nice illustration of how as time has progressed, it has had its development time since & come into a strength that will be great for players hitting the ground when it properly releases.
How The Game Works
The game features different locales from the Doctor Who universe as ‘Waypoints‘ – upgradable producers of Vortex Energy that is required to advance the Doctor’s work and progress within the game, to unlock new characters, improve existing waypoints via Level-Ups and move forwards within the story.
The story of Doctor Who: Lost In Time is broken into Episodes – each their own distinct level where waypoint progress reverts to zero & different sets of waypoints and characters are featured.
As well as being able to upgrade the waypoints themselves, waypoints and the amount of Vortex Energy they produce is also improved more permanently by waypoint level-ups and Characters. Each waypoint has two characters associated with it that are unlocked as you progress through the episodes – a Common and a Rare. Once unlocked, cards (alongside Henoch Matter) can be obtained to level them up and permanently add a multiplier to that waypoint’s production across all future episodes. The waypoints operate on the same system but with their own cards.
Boxes And Gems And All Things Sweet
How do you obtain these cards and Henoch Matter? You get them as rewards from Kerblam Boxes – these can be gained (in varying Bronze, Silver and Gold variants) for completing specific objectives in the episodes that progress the narrative… Sometimes, it’s to collect a certain amount of Vortex Energy in that episode, or upgrade a certain waypoint a certain amount of times, or collect a certain amount of cards. You also can redeem a free regular Kerblam Box every four hours.
Additionally, if you’re stacking up on way more Henoch Matter than you need for upgrades, you can use some of it to buy character cards for level-ups via the rotation of cards available in the store.
Of course, you’re probably wondering about the ‘idle’ part of the game… Well, when initially unlocked, you’ll have to collect your Vortex Energy from waypoints as their timers finish by hand… but as you gain and upgrade characters, you’ll be able to then automate waypoints so that they will keep collecting Vortex Energy within that episode whilst you’re not playing.
As one might expect of a mobile game, there is also a second harder-to-obtain currency called Kyfred Gems. These gems can be used to quick-purchase Henoch Matter and specific character cards (as opposed to the random rotating Store selection for purchase with Henoch)… Platinum Kerblam Boxes (for those who want a quick boost of character cards in general), and also to use timewarps that skip forward real-life hours of Vortex Energy collection for only your automated waypoints in the episode. You also get some of these gems at times as you upgrade waypoints, do events (we’ll come back to this later!) and as rare drops from Kerblam Boxes.
What would a Doctor Who mobile experience be like without a fun adventure story to go with the gameplay? Doctor Who: Lost In Time starts with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz making an emergency landing on Earth… only for the Doctor to quickly discover that she has landed in the familiar setting of her old UNIT lab. The lab has turned into one of the aforementioned waypoints, and she is quickly greeted by K-9, who has been sent to warn both her and other incarnations of the Doctor…
As it turns out, the older Sarah Jane Smith and the Tenth Doctor are also in a spot of trouble, finding themselves with a nearby Dalek City that acts as a waypoint too. And before long, the Doctors begin to struggle with their memories, as more and more of their past (and perhaps even part of their future…) begins to be pulled into the strange space-time disturbance they are in.
There is honestly so much to this story. So, so much. And I’d hate to spoil too much if anything here of the specifics of how things play out. But there are plenty of Doctors, companions and foes getting caught up in the chaos. (If you are interested to know a little bit more about the early levels before playing – the lovely TARDIS Wiki team have written up a page based on my experience playing through the first fourteen episodes…)
An Episode List To Remember
How much is there to explore and experience in terms of story? Plenty, and with plenty more to come! When first testing the game out through September, only the first fourteen episodes had been added to the game but at present, Doctor Who: Lost In Time now has a cracking twenty-eight episodes in the main story!
And here at Nerdgazm, we’re going to reveal to the wider fandom – for the first time – what all the titles are for those twenty-eight (get speculating, fellow Whovians!):
- Episode 1: No Time To Lose
- Episode 2: Emergence of the Daleks
- Episode 3: Home Is Where The Hearts Are
- Episode 4: The Right Place At The Right Time
- Episode 5: All The Better To Sea You With
- Episode 6: The Pandorica Prologue
- Episode 7: In All The Towns In All The World
- Episode 8: A Deep One
- Episode 9: Forgotten But Not Gone
- Episode 10: My Friend’s Enemy Is Also My Enemy
- Episode 11: Welcome To The Neighbourhood
- Episode 12: If At First
- Episode 13: Everything At Once
- Episode 14: Not What You Know But Who You Know
- Episode 15: The Dark Side Of The Moon
- Episode 16: Lunar Petri Dish
- Episode 17: Breadcrumbs In The Forest
- Episode 18: The Moons Of Skaro
- Episode 19: Jurassic Strife
- Episode 20: Two’s Company
- Episode 21: Cold Storage
- Episode 22: Skirmish In Skaro
- Episode 23: Game Of Clones
- Episode 24: Cold Logic
- Episode 25: Seek, Locate, Exterminate!
- Episode 26: The Road Twice Taken
- Episode 27: Deep Diplomacy
- Episode 28: Queen Eats Bishop
A more recent addition to Doctor Who: Lost In Time are limited-time events that are on rotation, of which there are two types. The first type – longer ‘narrative’ ones – run over a few days, feature a more speedy set of waypoints and their own dedicated sets of characters to level-up for the course of the episodes. Progression through these provide a host of rewards including Doctor character-unlocks that aren’t currently in the main narrative. The two ‘narrative’ events in rotation at present are:
- Time of the Cybermen (a story featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald)
- Purity of the Daleks (a story featuring the Twelfth Doctor, Kate Stewart and Petronella Osgood)
And the other type – short ‘non-narrative’ ones that play out over 24 hours have their own dedicated theme and set of characters, but up the amount of available rewards for Henoch Matter and Kyfred Gems. There are two of these currently in rotation too:
- Surf and Turf (themed around the Silurians and Sea Devils, focused on Henoch Matter rewards)
- Enlisted (themed around Liz Shaw and other UNIT characters, focused on Kyfred Gem rewards)
A Few Other Things About Doctor Who: Lost In Time
As an alternative to focusing on the secondary currency alone for speeding up things, the game also allows for an ad-supported boost with two optional 30-second advert buttons allowing for a gain of double the collected Vortex Energy from automated waypoints for four hours… or for a chunk of 20 Henoch Matter.
There are twenty eight characters and eleven waypoints currently available in-game, as of time of writing. Perhaps you can figure out most of them from this article – but there is one we’re keeping particularly secret. It’s quite the surprising return for a character from the Classic era.
There’s no music from the show itself, but there is a nice piece of background music from their audio partner Sound of Games that is a bit chilled but cosmic. (There is an option to mute the music though, if you perhaps want to boot-up your music app in the background and let your inner Keff McCulloch or Segun Akinola roar like wild as you play. Personally, I keep playing a bit of Blair Mowat…)
Sil – from Vengeance on Varos and Mindwarp – has also fallen into the space-time calamity. He’s not a particularly chatty individual, but he does occasionally offer some nice trades of cards-for-Henoch-matter and vice versa.
Jenny and Vastra fans might be rather happy to see that Jenny has finally been given a full hyphenated name for her marriage to Vastra. Yeah, that’s right: Jenny Flint-Vastra!
At the end of each episode of Doctor Who: Lost In Time, there is a nice little minigame where you pilot the TARDIS into the next episode by tapping the console with the sonic as fast as you can, for bonus character and waypoint cards. (It gets easier to get more rewards in this game the more you level-up the Thirteenth Doctor card. She’s an Epic though, so it’s much harder than most of the cards…)
Initial Thoughts On Doctor Who: Lost In Time
It would be unfair to give this game a full review quite just yet, but it really has been a wonderful experience testing this out. Though the narrative takes a little bit of time to start making sense – and I certainly hope they’ll add a story gallery in future so it’s easier to keep track of character threads over a long time playing the game – once it gets going, it’s a really fun experience with some nice reunions, first meetings and revelations for people… (Am I allowed to say that Dan Lewis gets to find out who the Master is? I suppose I am!)
As publishers, East Side are already well-experienced in ‘idle games’ with Star Trek and Goldbergs among their previous repertoire… and Bigfoot’s team, moderately sized, is managing to make really strong refinements to the game week by week. It’s going to be properly awesome seeing where this game goes in the future, and I cannot wait for people to get their hands on this. It’s not a big epic action-packed game, but it’s a damn good bit of pocket-sized fun.
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