With my PC effectively dead for playing games for the foreseeable future, I’ve been turning to Android and (shudder) Facebook games to fill the gap. And then my friend Adrian “OzIndie” Schurmanns told me about Doctor Who: Legacy, an official, licenced game by Tiny Rebel Games (TRG) for iOS/Android/Facebook. So, I took a look at DW:L’s Google Play page, saw the magic words “NO ENERGY SYSTEM”, and I was in and hooked!
The Sontarans are playing merry hell with Time (flippin’ Sontaran stratagems), and it’s causing all manner of disturbances – not least of which is the presence of multiple Doctors and companions in the same space/time location! But this is potentially all to the good, as you can assemble teams of people to wage war against Sontarans, Weeping Angels, Daleks, Cybermen, Whispermen, and many more enemies.
As for how you get your team to fight for you: Each character, be they Time Lord or Companion, has a colour: red, green, blue, yellow or black (a sixth colour, pink, heals your party). Enemies have colours, too. Making matches of at least three of the same colour triggers the attack of a character whose colour is the same as the one you just matched. Should a “wave” of multiple matches occur, the attacks increase in power – and every character whose colour corresponds to a matching set will attack, so things can become quite devastating! Also, if there is more than one enemy facing you in a round, matching five or six in a line at once will attack all enemies simultaneously. Nice!
Like Pokemon (to use just one example), the colours follow a “rock, paper, scissors” mechanic, where one colour will do heightened damage to another, reduced damage to a third, and normal damage to the others. In the case of DW:L, they’ve made it nice and easy for a geek like me to remember: Red defeats Green, Green defeats Blue, Blue defeats Red (RGB, geddit?). In reverse (Green attacking Red, for example), the damage is reduced. Meanwhile, Black and Yellow do increased damage on each other, but have no colours against which their damage is reduced.
You can use this information to target particular enemies, when there’s more than one on screen. Normally, you attack from left to right, but tapping on an enemy targets it (tap again to remove the targeting).
The “match-3” genre (e.g. Bejeweled) has been done to death, of course – but where DW:L differs is that, provided your path is clear and the gem can be moved (some enemies can lock gems), you can drag it anywhere you like around the board, even backtracking, switching places with other gems again and again – although there is a time limit for moving, so you’re not messing about forever. This means that it’s pretty easy to set up those multiple combos, which is a good thing – being able to heal and attack at the same time is pretty handy. While you can probably get by with playing as if it was Bejeweled, particularly in the early stages, getting the knack of “walking” gems across the board to make matches is valuable.
Characters also have special skills, which become available after a certain number of turns have elapsed. These can be such things as healing the party, curing poison, removing locks on gems, or changing gems’ colours (to name but a few). Their portrait will flash when the skill becomes available. As for Doctors, they have two skills, and they become available after a certain number of combos have been created. You can only choose one of those skills at a time, however: when their portrait flashes, that’s the lower-powered skill, but when their portrait has a light running around it, you use the higher-powered skill (and you can’t choose the lower one until it becomes available again). Pressing and holding a portrait will show you the name of the skill(s), and how many turns or combos are left until the skill becomes available.
When each enemy is killed, it has a chance to drop an item:
Characters: More characters mean more people to fight with, naturally – and as I mentioned above, some characters have special skills which will help greatly in fighting particular enemies. But also, each time a new character drops, you gain a star; reach a particular number of stars, and perks unlock, such as increased damage for a chosen colour, resistance to locks or poison, that sort of thing.
Costumes: They’re purely cosmetic, although some fans have asked for them to carry additional bonuses for the team. You can tell the difference between a character and costume: Costumes have a little “coat hanger” icon on them on the level-selection screen. And costumes are applied in the “TARDIS” screen, in the characters’ profile section.
Time Fragments: Used to bring characters to a new rank: Once they’ve reached level 10, 20, 30 and 40, characters won’t gain additional experience points (XP) or levels until you upgrade their rank; tapping on a character from the “TARDIS” screen will show you how many of each Time Fragment is needed. Doctors are different: they don’t have levels, just ranks – so you can upgrade them as soon as you have all the necessary Time Fragments. Maximum rank is five – at which point, characters gain an additional colour (e.g. K-9 goes from black to black/blue, whereas Jenny Flint goes from red to red/red). Each time a match is made which matches a rank-5 character’s secondary colour, it does additional (albeit lower) damage.
Time Crystals (TCs): I always get way too excited when these drop, because you can do so much with them!
- 2 TCs enables you to take a Companion to the maximum level for the rank they’re at, without having to level it;
- 2 TCs (4 for a Doctor) instantly upgrades a character to a new rank, without requiring you to have the necessary amount of Time Fragments;
- 1 TC enables you to continue a level, if (when) you’re killed;
- TCs are also used in the Store to buy characters, packs of characters, costumes,and Time Fragments.
- 2-4 TCs (depending on the “Season”) can also be used to “roll” for a character or costume that you don’t already have; it should always be something you don’t already have, so no wasted TCs!
Time Crystals are also where the in-app purchasing (IAP) comes in – the game itself is free to play. But Doctor Who: Legacy has received a great deal of praise for “IAP done right”: their pricing is pretty damn reasonable! Here’s the cost, in UK pounds, for the various packages available (prices are correct at the time of writing):
- 1 TC: £0.59
- 6 TCs: £3.00
- 13 TCs: £6.01
- 31 TCs: £11.80
- 70 TCs: £30.08
- 170 TCs: £60.17
I don’t really see myself buying the large packs at present (what with unemployment and everything), but I did spring for the pack of six TCs. The reason is because if you buy 6 or more in a single transaction, the Fan Area is unlocked! This gives you a ton of extra levels, characters and costumes to add to your collection. Three quid is a pittance for that kind of extra goodness.
Outside the game, there’s a great little community for DW:L. As well as a forum on the Tiny Rebel Games website, there’s also a Facebook page, a Google+ page and a Twitter account (Susan and Lee, the devs, are friendly and helpful). And TheAdiposeTV (“Adi” for short) is a gamer who hosts a DW:L podcast every Thursday at 8pm UK time (midday Pacific, 3pm Eastern). The devs are usually on the show each week, to reveal new stuff coming to the game (forgot to mention: they add new content weekly). And a couple of weeks ago, Adi had a special guest: Pippa Bennett-Warner, who played Saibra in the Season 8 episode “Time Heist”! (She plays DW:L, too!) Adi is as mad as a hatter1 (or possibly as mad as Four), and charming with it – he also plays the game on screen while talking to his guests… It’s thanks to him that I finally realised I needed to change my play style, to make those multiple combos I was talking about earlier.
And then, there are the giveaways… In all the community locations, Tiny Rebel gives out promo codes for all to use, though many are time-limited. These can net you just about anything that’s available in the game, according to the devs’ whim. Just go to the Options screen in the game, select the Promo tab, and type in the code to get your goodies!
Also, TRG holds other giveaways in the community locations, as well as special giveaways on Adi’s podcast. Examples: To celebrate the inclusion of “Mummy on the Orient Express”, TRG gave away 66 Time Crystals! (I missed out on that contest, waah); and on Adi’s podcast, they gave out Xbox 360 Editions of Minecraft, plus the Doctor Who Skin Pack DLC!
So, enough description (goodness knows I’ve done a lot of it!). What do I think of the game?
When OzIndie told me about Doctor Who: Legacy, it was because I’d been playing a similar game called Battle Camp, and although it has more features than DW:L (PvP battles being one, for starters), the “energy” mechanic – where you can only play until that energy runs out, unless you buy more – was really getting on my nerves. It’s probably my biggest gripe about mobile and Facebook apps. Hence my diving on DW:L like a rapacious vampire when I learned that no such restriction applied. I’ve not touched Battle Camp since!
And if I really get into a game, I’ll play it to death – which is exactly what I’m doing with DW:L! Sure, it’s on the repetitive side (especially when you’re trying to score a rare drop from a level), but that doesn’t really bother me, as such. I’m used to that sort of thing from World of Warcraft and, of course, the Bejeweled series. Your mileage may vary. Besides, I’ve been using grinding on a level for drops as a way to quickly level up characters – I’ll throw in one or two lower-level characters in with a group of maxed ones, grind the earlier levels again, and get them all beefed up for later battles. I might need their ability to remove poison, or huge healing capabilities.
Meanwhile, DW:L’s artwork is gorgeous – TRG’s lead artist, Pest Jiang, hand-draws every single character in the game, and it’s all a treat to see! You can see several examples of Pest’s handiwork on the Facebook, Google+ and DW:L forum pages, and they really help add character to the game.
The addition of the Fan Area makes a great incentive to buy at least one six-pack of Time Crystals, and support TRG. With additional storylines, expert-mode levels (boy, are they tough!), and extra goodies to glean, it’s well worth your money.
Doctor Who: Legacy is essentially a glorious mash-up of Bejeweled, Puzzle Quest, and Pokemon, and I love it to bits. I think that, if you enjoy those sorts of games (and are into Doctor Who, too), you’ll love it as well!
1 And I mean that as a compliment!