Doctor Who Lost in Time: DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

Grace Lapointe
9 min readJan 7, 2024
The Cybermen yell, “Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete” at the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler in Doctor Who.

I’ve never been a gamer. In fact, Doctor Who: Lost in Time is the first video or mobile game I’ve ever tried to play through. I also have disabilities that make gaming difficult and sometimes inaccessible for me. My OCD makes me likely to check things compulsively, and when I spend a lot of time on something, I’m prone to the sunk cost fallacy. So, it took me a while to realize it was a terrible game. It was initially fun.

What is Lost in Time, and why did I play it?

Doctor Who: Lost in Time is an official, idle game from Eastside Games and Bigfoot Gaming, using licensed characters from the BBC TV series Doctor Who. It had an initial release in June 2022 and a full release in March 2023. I played from March 2023 until December 2023. Aside from occasionally ignoring the game for a few days, I checked it almost daily.

Theoretically, idle games allow casual play, with players accumulating power while away from the app. However, in practice, this game is frustrating and requires a lot of dexterity, effort, and a major time commitment.

Doctor Who has been one of my hyperfixations since September 2022. I’ve written fanfiction of the show, a list of book recommendations for Book Riot, analyses of the show in general, Davros in particular, and more.


The art style is cute, almost like a cartoon. It’s static, though (the images don’t move). The only exception, when it’s animated, is in the very beginning, with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz. The artwork gets re-used a lot, with characters drawn from only a couple of different angles.

A screenshot of Bill Potts and the Twelfth Doctor from Doctor Who: Lost in Time. Doctor: Not you again…

I enjoyed the cutscenes and seeing my favorite characters. However, as I’ll explain later, it takes a lot of time and effort to unlock each scene. The game appeared to have an ongoing story at first, but this became more unclear the more episodes and events were added.

It taught me more about Classic Who. I’ve mostly watched the revived series started in 2005, so it helped me learn about lore, villains, Classic Doctors, and their companions.

The development team was polite and reviewed my account promptly whenever I emailed them. They often take player feedback into account. By now, I dislike the payments, glitches, and entire setup of the game, but the team is working hard.

It helped me decide to deactivate my X (formerly Twitter). I checked this game way too often, but doing so helped me stop checking Twitter. This game taught me to stop gamifying my own social media notifications just as Twitter imploded. It was often a relaxing distraction from my wisdom tooth and other chronic pain before my oral surgery.


It drained my battery — more than anything else ever has. “The TARDIS’ power is draining”? More like my phone battery is draining! On a serious note, though, I try to keep each smartphone for at least six years, so it concerned me to see my 2020 phone drain so often in 2023.

It’s inaccessible. What is accessible to me as a disabled person may be inaccessible to another disabled person, and vice versa. So, I always try to qualify why I found something inaccessible to me. I had to press waypoints MANY times to power them up. I have cerebral palsy, and my chronic muscle weakness, pain, and spasms meant I often got tired and stopped playing after a few minutes. It requires too many fine motor skills and repetitive hand motions to be accessible to a lot of people.

Paid deals pop up and are very easy to click accidentally. Yes, confirmation is needed for purchases, but I still found this stressful. Mistakes can’t be undone easily.

I enjoyed the cutscenes, but the game screen itself uses tiny letters, numbers, and illustrations of locations from the show.

It even uses its own number system! In real life, quadrillions come after trillions. In Lost in Time, after trillions, your vortex energy is measured in units AA, AB, etc. Some waypoints require “100 AV” of vortex energy just to activate. This is meaningless outside the game, but I use it as an example of the scale of exponentially large numbers in this game.

Though most idle games deal with huge numbers, not all make up their own number systems. It’s an extra layer of confusing rules and jargon. Maybe exponents would be better (that is, more accurate), but they’d be in even smaller fonts and inaccessible to many players.

There were almost no instructions in the game itself when I started playing it in March 2023. Now there are official tutorials. This official, detailed FAQ was updated in fall 2023.

When the game finally included tips, they were confusing, for example: “Gallifrey gives Atlantis Cards, UNIT Moonbase gives Dalek City Cards, and Victorian London gives Snowcap Base Cards!” I’d screenshot it but forget and check it again because it made no sense.

The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) saying, “WHAT?” in Doctor Who.

Yes, these are all important locations (not “events”) in the TV series and in the game. But it’s confusing because it’s counterintuitive and illogical, which makes it hard to remember.

I used all possible, free shortcuts, including automating all waypoints. I used the “skip all” button to see all prizes simultaneously. Otherwise, you must click each one. I always used the “max” button for maximum production, which was still incredibly slow. You’d need calculus to figure out and beat the rate that it accrued energy. I’m only half-joking.

So, overall, I think it’s not accessible. I’ve warned friends who love Doctor Who and are also disabled about the issues I had with this game.

It never ends. When I uninstalled the game, it had 60 episodes, plus limited-time events that often repeat. I initially hoped to “finish” this game, but it now seems interminable.

It can be very time-consuming.

The official FAQ recommends checking daily, but that’s an understatement. Practically speaking, you must check those weekend events regularly (every hour or two!) to do well. Some collectors offer cards and currency every 15 minutes to an hour. “Idle” game is a misnomer. So is “casual.” This puts the main game and limited-time events at cross-purposes. Leaving the main game alone for as long as possible is ideal, but so is checking the side games constantly.

It can be expensive.
It’s casual and free to play only in theory. Spammy ads AND in-app purchases? In this economy?!

Purchases are “$1.99–119.99 per item,” according to the Google Play store. They may or may not help the player advance at all.

Did I ever spend money on this game?

Yes: $1–5 each on about 3–4 instances overall. I never tried a VIP subscription or bought any of the ridiculously expensive package deals. These could give players enough in-game currency to complete or win the event outright for around $27 US. One mobile reviewer warns you to stay away if you have kids (who might make unauthorized purchases) or if you’ve ever struggled with gambling.

The game introduced a paid subscription tier in November 2023. That’s outrageously overpriced. There’s no way I would pay $28/month US for a “VIP tier” to play this mobile game. For comparison, that would be more than a household in the US spends to watch Doctor Who and countless other shows and movies across two streaming services in total: Series 1–13 of New Who on Max and the 60th anniversary specials and upcoming seasons on Disney +.

My Epic 14th Doctor cards.

I understand why some people consider the whole game unplayable or a scam. The VIP subscription tier was the tipping point for many of us frustrated players and fans. The same update also added a leaderboard. Though I finished 3rd or 4th and won rare Fourteenth Doctor cards (above) on the leaderboard, I still disliked it. I thought it was becoming too challenging and competitive. This made it even more inaccessible and exclusive.

TL;DR: It’s virtually impossible to play in a way that’s free, casual, and accessible (or even two out of three).
I ultimately chose to uninstall it permanently instead of ignoring the app because it took up 1 GB on my phone. I had 525 gems accrued when I deleted the game, the day after I had a wisdom tooth removed.

My free kerblam timer, showing over 9 hours, instead of 2.

I got a lot of glitches. The free kerblams (prize boxes above), which usually come every 2 hours, took 8 hours on 2 separate instances during one long weekend event. When I emailed the team, they gave me 50 free gems, which was very helpful.

At other times, the timer said 8–10 hours but also went too fast. So, it sometimes averaged out to 2–4 hours anyway. This could be confusing!
Short events would end or switch unexpectedly, or currency accrued wouldn’t show up.

It has no logical, thematic, or narrative consistency.
It’s deeply ironic to wait for free kerblams in an episode about the evil Kerblam company murdering its employees. It’s even worse to “upgrade” Doctor Who characters in Lost in Time, especially Bill Potts, as this Instagram user pointed out. If you’re reading this or play the game, you probably know that “upgrading” people into Cybermen is murder in the show. In fact, it’s how Bill Potts was murdered.

Like most other players, I often forget what was happening in the previous episodes by the time new episodes are released. At first, I thought the Waypoints powered up the TARDIS. Then, a plot twist in the middle of the game revealed the classic villain Omega wanted the Waypoints. However, the game dropped this plot twist and never revisited it. The monotonous gameplay never changed. Basically, the idle game format doesn’t lend itself to Doctor Who, but the game tries to force it to fit.

I was unfamiliar with the term “shovelware” until a mobile review of this game used it. It fits the definition perfectly. Basically, shovelware is software that prioritizes quantity over quality. Developers “shovel” everything in, and it’s often full of bugs and crashes.

It’s unevenly and unpredictably calibrated. There are enjoyable mini games between episodes, but I could win as many rewards in a mini game that lasted 10 seconds as in an event lasting a long weekend. The game recalibrated a few weeks before I stopped playing, though, making it slightly easier to accrue rewards.

Gameplay itself can be tedious. According to this review, Lost in Time is “the one thing Who should never be: boring.” I agree that it starts to feel like work. As the reviewer wrote: “it’s hard to escape the feeling that for such mind-numbing, monotonous work someone should be paying you.” It got into my head and started to feel like Word or Excel. But, unlike work, it didn’t make me any money or help anyone.

To quote the Toymaker in “The Giggle”: “You make games out of bricks falling upon other bricks.” Or automating Waypoints, I thought instantly.

I’m not much of a gamer or the first to say this, but a Sims-style Doctor Who game could be cool. Design yourself or your character as a companion, villain, or as The Doctor. Design settings. Or mix and match canon Doctors, companions, settings, and villains.

I know video game consoles and controllers have a lot more accessible options and modes than mobile games do. I’m unsure how an idle mobile game like this one could be made more accessible, but I do think it’s inaccessible overall. I recommend Can I Play That? a site where a diverse group of disabled gamers reviews games’ accessibility.