Border Reivers

Vivienne Dunstan (2018)

Blurb: It's late fifteenth century Scotland, and the dangerous world of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers. A murder has been committed, and it's your task as the Warden's son to try to find out who was responsible. Can you solve the mystery before it's too late? Or will others die before the criminal is unmasked?

This game is a murder mystery that takes place in a castle in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. You play a clerk helping your father out, the Archibald Douglas Earl of Angus. A murder has called him to this part of Scotland, and he needs your help to solve it. He asks you to question the people here in the castle, and see if you can figure out who the real murder is. One family looks guilty, it's your job to find out if they are.

The game centers around the player asking a bunch of questions to the guests in the castle. This is helped by the TOPICS verb that will give you ideas about what you should be talking about. It's a good idea. My next game might end up using this.

Border Reivers only took me about an hour to finish. It's not that long, even though the writing is a little verbose. And the coding is solid. I didn't find any bugs, let alone game breaking ones. And most of the scenery seemed in place, though I was focusing on talking to the people.

My biggest problem with the game is how the ending feels like it's on rails. Coming up to the ending I looked at the walkthrough to see if I was missing something. But it looked like I was doing everything right, so I went to talk to someone else and the game just cut to the ending. This was at the right time for me, so I felt like I was on pace with the game. But then all interactivity goes out the window. You end up doing little more than watching the scene play out, you can't affect it by ATTACKing, or PUSHing, or PULLing, or KICKing. Sad to see this, the game ended on a flat note.

Border Reivers is a solid game that will take about an hour to get through. It's a murder mystery that shouldn't be too hard to figure out. It has interesting characters and the pacing seemed perfect. It's also written by one of the most prolific beta testers out there, you should try it.

Score: 8