Doctor Who: Legacy

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Tiny Rebel Games published Doctor Who: Legacy on iOS and Android. If you like mobile games, I recommend trying it out. It’s a great game, and the fact that it happens to be themed for Doctor Who is only a bonus. (Oh, it’s freemium, by the way, which means that you can download and play for free, but there are things you can buy with real money.)

Defeat that angel!

Defeat that angel!

If you’re not familiar with the game Puzzles and Dragons, skip to the next paragraph. DW:L is very similar to PAD, though I will say it’s a lot better than it. It ripped out the clunky interface and the overly-complicated leveling system, replaced the monsters with DW characters, and added more strategy to the base game. To get somewhere in PAD, you have to spend lots of time with wikis and cheat guides to understand the game and figure out where to get the components you need to strengthen your dragons; in contrast, DW:L doesn’t require any of that: it’s a true casual puzzle game, just tailored for DW fans.

DW:L looks like a match-3 game, which is the generic name for games like Bejeweled, in which you move gems around on a grid to match up colors in sequences of 3 or more. Matched gems disappear and new ones fall from the top. In this particular game, once you touch a gem, you have 5 seconds to move it anywhere on the grid following up/down/left/right. When you move the gem, the gem in the place you move to slides to where your gem just was. Thus, you use the gem you’re holding to move others around. The point is to create matching colors of 3 or more in a row. These gems will disappear.

Meanwhile, you have a set of characters of different colors (for example, the Eleventh Doctor is blue, Madame Vastra is gold, Jenny is red, Rory is green, etc.) battling 1-3 monsters, also of different colors. When you create a row of, say, green gems and they disappear, they give characters that have that color an attack. In this case, Rory now has an attack. The empty spaces left behind by the disappearing gems are filled in with more gems. A skilled player can create multiple matched sets at once, and the more you can match, the more extra damage your attacks do on the monster.

(Yes, it sounds confusing. Try the game out and you’ll see it’s not so bad. These things are hard to describe without visual aids.)

The monsters also have colors and get attacks. Beneath their portraits, they have a countdown number and an attack name (either just “Attack” or a special power). The number decrements each turn you take, and when it reaches zero, the monster does the attack listed. It can do direct damage to your health bar (the pink bar below the character portraits), or its special power can do things like heal itself, lock gems so you can’t move them, and clear all gems of a specific color from the board. In the image above, Weeping Angels have the special power of creating boulders on your board, which can be cleared by matching three as usual but do not help you attack. Knowing ahead of time what the monster is going to do adds a bit of strategy to the game: do you attack the Dalek because it’s going to attack, or the Cyberman because it’s going to lock gems on your board?

As you get better at the it, you’ll notice that some attacks do more than others. That’s because there’s a rock/paper/scissors system, in which red beats green, green beats blue, and blue beats red. (If it’s easier to remember, use the Pokemon system: fire beats grass, grass beats water, water beats fire.) That means that a red attack will do double damage to a green monster, and a blue attack will do half damage to a green monster. Similarly, gold and silver attacks do double damage to each other, but do normal damage to everything else. Monsters don’t get this advantage (or weakness) against you, though.

The story behind the puzzles is sufficiently timey-wimey to feel Doctor Who-ish. Something’s wrong with time, and to solve the problem, the Doctor and his companions need to travel backwards along his timeline. You start with the Eleventh Doctor, Madame Vastra, and Jenny, and the first puzzles you encounter are from “Nightmare in Silver.” Defeat those, and now you’re in “Asylum of the Daleks.” The game comes with Series 7 and 6, and promises to continue moving back in time, with Series 5 coming in January. Will it make it to the classic Doctors? I sure hope so!

As you play, the puzzles have a chance to drop new Doctors and companions, as well as Time Fragments. Your team consists of one Doctor and up to five companions. The companions gain experience and make levels as they execute attacks during puzzles. Gaining a level gives them a skill point, which you can assign to increase their abilities. When they get to a max level, they can be upgraded to a higher rank if you have collected enough Time Fragments. Don’t have them? The episode list shows which puzzles can drop which Time Fragments, so just play more to get them. The Doctors do not gain levels, but they do rank up with Time Fragments. Some puzzles also drop outfits for different characters.

tl:dr? Basically, this is a fun match-3 game that’s easy to understand and get into, and has the added bonus of being Doctor Who-themed. It’s well-designed and has a pleasing user interface. The extra characters are a bit rare, but from what I’ve read, they can drop from the puzzles (only, you might have to play the puzzles a huge number of times). There are things you can buy with real money in the game, but they’re not essential and you can play probably 95% of the game without them. The only criticism I have of Doctor Who: Legacy is that it would have been better if they were allowed to use images from the show, rather than comic art, but as it stands, the art itself is fine.

So, go download this game and try it out!