For those lucky enough to attend the recent MCM London Comic Con over this bank holiday weekend, 24th – 26th May we got plenty of treats. But between all the stalls, cosplayers, K-Pop, masseurs, tarot card readers, celebrity guests, talks, and meet-and-greets, there was one particular stand that was of interest to every single Doctor Who fan: a teaser and trial of the new chapter of Doctor Who in VR, (Virtual Reality), The Edge of Time. It’s a follow up to The Runaway, the recent free game released by the BBC.
Rocking up to the event on Friday, my group happened to be standing opposite the Doctor Who stall when the doors opened. Of course my friend Scott and I had to have a go! After a little wait of an hour-and-a-half, which we spent chatting to the lady who was running things and another group of Who fans in front of us, we finally managed to get our hands on the game.
I’m a relative newcomer to the VR scene. I once experienced The Conjuring 2 in this format when I last attended MCM in 2016. But otherwise this was my proper exposure to the world of gaming in this format.
The first thing that struck me was how real this world was. I wasn’t expecting it be like that. The moment the headset was placed over my unruly curly hair, I wasn’t on this planet anymore; I had been transported to the world of Doctor Who!
I wasn’t entirely clear if you were playing as the Doctor, a companion, or just a friend she picks up over the course of the adventure but you found yourself in a dingy back ally, perhaps a subtle nod to where the Seventh Doctor found himself at the start of The TV Movie? The headphones were flooded with the sound of Jodie Whittaker’s voice who was telling you what she wanted you to do. You don’t have a time-limit, but it is clear from the urgency in her voice that you need to assemble a device quickly so she can recall the TARDIS.
To do this, you had to reach down and collect the sonic screwdriver which was in your character’s pocket. The items the Doctor needs are an old radio, a satellite dish, and a car battery. Once the objects are all in place – and, to quote the Ninth Doctor, soniced-up – the TARDIS begins to appear, whipping up the dust and dirt on the ground into something majestic.
But then the device’s power is blocked and the TARDIS vanishes as a Dalek Saucer flies above you. Whittaker’s voice is then drowned out by Nicholas Briggs’ iconic Dalek voice shouting “LIFE FORM DETECTED – EXTERMINATE!” It was brilliant.
The Doctor then urgently tells you to use the sonic at full power and reactivate the device. Having done this, the TARDIS materialises again at the end of the alleyway and you can actually open the door! In my case, I opened it then, in my excitement, closed it, but not before I stuck my other hand out to catch it as if it were a real door. We’ve got it on video; I can’t wait to see what an idiot I looked like! (And so can you as our trip will form an upcoming video on my YouTube channel, Who’s Watching…)
I’ve never kept it secret that I’m not the biggest fan of the new TARDIS interior, but it was certainly different actually seeing the whole interior unfolding around you. Had I not just made a fool of myself, I might have shed a tear; it was magnificent and the closest I’ll ever get to stepping into the Doctor’s amazing Space-Time Ship.
I sadly didn’t get the name of the lady running the stand, unfortunately, but she was wonderfully friendly and willing to answer everyone’s questions and help you out when you got into trouble (I did a couple of times, as a VR novice). We were told that there are a number of foes from the television series still to be announced, as well as a couple of new original aliens. Alongside the Daleks and Weeping Angels, who else could be joining them?
And to finish the VR experience off, we got to travel through the time-vortex to the theme tune, something that leaves you feeling very trippy but fulfilled! Our journey through the vortex was accompanied by people singing the Doctor Who tune and knocking on the wooden partitions to the beat of the theme. It was definitely an experience enjoyed by all who attended.
As the weekend went on, the stall was never empty, with a long queue on the Saturday and Sunday as well as a number of postcards available afterwards (plus a picture taken with Jodie’s TARDIS). With no other guests attending aside from the cast of Arrow and the new Superman from Supergirl that I knew, I was a little disappointed that there were no Who related guests attending. But actually getting to step into the TARDIS and help the Doctor out more than made up for that…
I’ve no doubt that when The Edge of Time is finally released in September 2019, it will be a smash hit. I can’t wait to see other fans getting to feel the level of excitement that I did!