In all of modern Doctor Who, “Blink” is still one of the most iconic episodes, even 14 years later. As a fan, I felt compelled to buy Doctor Who: Lonely Assassins, a Found Phone-style game that acts as a sort of sequel as soon as possible. Alas, it’s a very short game that begs for more content.
If you’re a huge Doctor Who fan, you won’t be utterly disappointed in Doctor Who: Lonely Assassins. But you’ll probably wish it was longer. The game is a “found phone” style adventure that stars—well you. The storyline has you “finding a phone” and deciding to play around with it.
If you decide to buy the $4 game (on iOS and Android), let me give you one colossal tip that confused many people. The very first part of the game presents you with a pattern unlock screen. Just try anything, don’t worry about figuring out what the code is supposed to be.
After three failed attempts, the “phone” will factory reset itself, and the adventure begins. In Doctor Who: Lonely Assassins, you are just the sort of person the Doctor (voiced by Jodie Whittaker) would turn to if she weren’t available to protect the Earth. Or at least that’s the assumption.
You see, after the “phone” factory resets itself, a member of the United Intelligence Task Force (UNIT), Petronella Osgood (played by Ingrid Oliver), hacks the phone and attempts to restore its data. She’s not totally successful, but enough to restore some of the previous owner’s images, text messages, emails, and recent browsing history.
Who is the previous owner? Larry Nightingale (played by Finlay Robertson) from “Blink,” a man who had a prior run-in with the Doctor and the Weeping Angels. Once Osgood figures out that you’re not Larry and that the Doctor “arranged” for you to find the phone, the adventure begins properly.
You’ll spend the new few hours digging into Larry’s text messages, browser history, emails, and photos to find clues surrounding his sudden disappearance. Along the way, the phone will act strange as though something is fighting you; you’ll get mysterious calls from unknown entities and even a few video calls from people looking for Larry.
Osgood appears in person here and there, but most of the time, you’ll speak to her through text messaging using pre-filled text prompt options. The different choices you can make in those conversations don’t seem to truly affect the outcome, though some can seem to speed the story along or send you down fun Easter Egg rabbit trails.
Are you a Doctor Who fan? Good, cause you’ll get lots of little winks from several Doctor Who episodes. The vast majority of them are from “Blink” for obvious reasons. The game plays like a love letter to fans of the Russel T. Davies era. That’s a benefit and a curse. On the one hand, it’s fun to catch all the nods and yell, “I understood that reference!” On the other hand, the game treats you as though you have zero knowledge of the Doctor and explains to you concepts you probably fully understand.
You know how watching Bruce Wayne’s parents or Peter Parker’s Uncle get killed to fulfill the backstory for the umpteenth time gets old? You’ll experience a bit of that here. “Who is the Doctor?” you’ll Osgood, leading her expounding on all the information you already know in real life.
But that’s not my biggest complaint about the game. No, that’d be the length. I beat it in a day. And that’s not counting the frequent breaks I took since I had other things to do. Altogether, it probably took me three hours to get to the story’s ending. And as far as I can tell, you can’t lose the game. It’s either that, or I’m brilliant and figured out every puzzle easily AND made all the right decisions on the first try.
The puzzles are pretty simple, and it’s likely even a young child will figure them out without much trouble. The hardest part is when you have to dig through the phone to find some corrupt data. That entails looking at every browser window, every text message, every email, every email attachment, and every photo. So it’s not hard; it’s tedious.
And unfortunately, the game has zero replayability. You can replay chapters, but I’m not sure why you’d want to. There’s an optional “find every TARDIS reference” minigame, but I did that without trying on my first go as I played the game. What the game DOES nail is the look and feel of Doctor Who. When the Angels appear, they’re just as frightening as the original Blink episode, and I jumped more than once. Seeing Osgood again is a delight.
So if you’re looking for a game that you’ll play again and again for the next few weeks, this isn’t the one for you. But if you think of Doctor Who: Lonely Assassins as a single episode that you get to participate in, then it’s not so bad. I’ve paid more for an episode of Doctor Who that left me less satisfied (I’m looking at you, “Love & Monsters.”
But if you’re not a Doctor Who fan, you should skip this one. You might understand the story, but you probably won’t appreciate it fully, and it’s super short. If you are a Doctor Who fan, then maybe you should buy it. As long as you’re OK with a game you’ll finish in a matter of hours.
Here’s What We Like
- Nails the Doctor Who feel
- Actual appearances by actors
- Fun Easter eggs
And What We Don't
- Extremely short
- Zero replayability