Platforms: PC & Mac
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: BBC Wales Interactive
As soon as I finished watching the trailer for this last instalment of the current Adventure Games series, I knew that I needed to download it immediately because lets face the combination of a giant shark, an underwater city, and of course one of the best and scariest Dr. Who baddies of the David Tennant years, the Vashta Nerada, seemed at the time to be a winning formula. Unfortunately, the game itself was somewhat of a disappointment and caused the Adventure Games to leave us with a somewhat sour taste in our mouths.
The game starts with the Doctor and Amy leaving the TARDIS to find themselves in some sort of underwater base and just when they thought it was safe to go back into the water, a giant shark like creature begins to attack the glass corridors that they're travelling through. Eventually they make it to the heart of the base only to discover that the base's crew are suffering from some kind of sickness and no sooner than this is revealed, the lights flicker off and then back on, only for the group to discover that one of them has been devoured by the Vashta Nerada. Then begins the inevitable investigation as the Doctor attempts to find out just what's going on so that he can save everybody in the base.
Whilst this episode is probably the longest of the first series, the gameplay drags on in places mostly due to the predictable puzzles that you have to solve, which seem to pop up again and again and again, and just when you thought you'd got past the last one, bam, another one jumps into your path.
Initially the giant shark, or Razor Tooth Blade Fin to give it its official name, seems to be a formidable foe that creates panic in its wake, seeing as it seems to be able to bring the ocean crashing around you. However, once you realise that all you have to do is run to the door at the end of the section of tunnel you're in and zap the lock with the sonic screwdriver to escape, you quickly come to the conclusion that it's no real threat to you at all, in fact on most of its subsequent attacks I found myself thinking "Oh, it's you again is it! Well this shouldn't be much of a problem!"
Seeing as the Vashta Nerada that we've seen so far in the TV show were utterly relentless, not to mention merciless in their hunt for fresh meat, it's a shame that their presence didn't generate more fear. In fact, just like the Daleks and the Cybermen in episodes one and two, they posed little to no threat whatsoever; they were more of a mild inconvenience than anything else and were easily defeated by being led into a trap that even a kindergartener could have avoided, or jumping into a moving light stream and calmly waiting for it to cut through the shadows whilst whistling and starring at your watch.
The affection between Amy and the Doctor that can be seen in the TV series and which I said was starting to bleed into the Adventure Games in the previous episode, seems to once again have disappeared, which is a real shame because it seems like a bit of a step backwards in my opinion.
Basically, this episode left me fairly disappointed because it had the potential to be a real corker of a story that should have had a really tense, horror film like quality to it, but instead it fell down due to its repetitive gameplay and poor use of a fantastic, hostile, and lets not forget terrifying species in the form of the Vashta Nerada. Having said all that, being a devout Doctor Who fan, I'll still be checking the site on a regular basis to find out when the first episode of the second series of the Adventure Games is due to grace our screens, and I'm hoping that there'll be a number of improvements to the gameplay when the new series finally does arrive.
- Just like before, it's free!
- It lasts a while
- There's a talking computer (slim pickings in the pros column for this one)
- Repetitive gameplay
- The Vashta Nerada aren't scary enough
- The Razor Tooth Blade Fin poses no challenge whatsoever
The Short Version: Whilst Shadows Of The Vashta Nerada will probably leave you disappointed, it's not terrible, there's just room for a lot of improvement, which hopefully'll be made by the time series two is with us.