First released on mobile and Steam earlier this year, Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is now available on PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. Even if you’re not a massive fan of the Doctor’s escapades, it’s worth picking up.
I’ve been keen to get my hands on The Lonely Assassins not because I’m a Doctor Who fan, but because I enjoyed the developer’s previous games. You see, it’s developed by Kaigan Games, the team behind Simulacra. And both games are eerily similar. Simulacra is a FMV thriller where you find the phone of a missing girl. By snooping through her text messages, images and browsing history, you’ll begin to piece together what’s happened to her – and something rather supernatural is at play.
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins at least starts in a very similar fashion. You find yourself in possession of a phone belonging to a man named Laurence. He’s mysteriously vanished, and a woman named Petronella Osgood – who has somehow hacked into the phone – is keen to find out where he’s gone. Again, by looking around Laurence’s phone (and this time with the help of Osgood), it’s up to you to piece together what’s happened to him.
There’s a certain creep factor in going through Laurence’s phone; relaying private conversations and snooping through a photo album that feels surprisingly real. There are photos of food, feet and cats in there – the sort of random snapshots that you’d expect to see in a real phone’s camera roll. What content you can access is drip-fed to you, blocked off by phone glitches that Osgood will fix every so often. It may feel a little creepy going through someone else’s phone, but it’s also fulfilling as the pieces of what’s happened to Laurence start fitting together.
Having a knowledge of Doctor Who‘s world will certainly help you invest in The Lonely Assassins, but it’s not necessary. You see, your character has no understanding of The Doctor either, so in basic terms Osgood carefully explains him to you. With knowledge of characters and events you may get a greater kick out of the story, but going in as blind as the person who finds Laurence’s phone is perfectly acceptable too.
Backed by the BBC, Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins has slightly higher production values than Simulacra, and a notably better cast. Much of your conversations will carry out over text message, but there are acted scenes (and voice calls) with Osgood, who is played by Ingrid Oliver, the same actor who plays her in the TV series (and, more notably, a series of audio releases).
The story at hand is engaging, too, revolving around the only one aspect of Doctor Who I’m familiar with as someone who’s never seen a single episode all the way through (sorry): the Weeping Angels. It seems Laurence and his wife are familiar with the power of the Angels – stone statues that can move when nobody is watching them, and that have the ability to send a person back into the past. A location pops up that Who fans will be familiar with – Wester Drumlins – but it’s given enough introduction that it doesn’t matter. A spooky old house that recently sold to a new buyer, it’s where the angels reside. It seems Laurence spent some of his last days trying to convince the buyer the house isn’t safe, but to little avail.
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is only a couple of hours long, but it’s a couple of hours that will keep you glued to your screen, hungrily unfolding one plot point after another. With light puzzles to solve, private conversations to sift through and an excellent story, FMV thriller fans will get a kick out of this – even if they aren’t all that familiar with the Doctor.
Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins PS4 Review: GameSpew’s Score