is written in three chapters -- The Train, The
Border and The Assassination -- which are
played in any order, though the game works best when
they're tackled in sequence. Each chapter is played
against the clock, which is set to run quickly or slowly
to suit the player's nerves.
Clattering along a wintry landscape in a draughty train
compartment, the player is on his way to Vienna via
the (fictitious) neutral country of Litzenburg, lulled
into a restful doze by the rhythm of the train's movement.
But his simple life is suddenly made more interesting
when a wounded American spy enters the compartment and
hands him a document.
American explains that he has been discovered by the
authorities and must escape the train. He asks that
the document be delivered to his contact on the platform
of Litzenburg station, confiding that this will help
prevent the assassination of a top-ranking American
diplomat. His departure is swift and leaves no time
for argument, and the player has little choice but to
do as he asks.
essential idea of The Train is to hide all evidence
of the meeting with the American spy and of his document,
avoid arousing the authorities' suspicions, leave the
train without being followed and safely deliver the
document to the contact.
first scenario is a little disappointing -- it's quite
easy to complete, involving only eight locations, and
is over very quickly. The only challenge is remembering
to do everything to cover one's tracks, such as hiding
the film and removing the bloodstain.
In the second part the player changes character -- now
you're the injured American spy who left the train rather
hurriedly in the first section. The spy finds himself
cold and alone near the border, and has to get across
without being discovered.
by tracker dogs, guards and a mysterious group of men
in a car, the American has to traverse dark forests,
swamps and deep snow before attempting the border crossing.
There's also the injury to his left arm and the biting
cold to overcome.
chapter is played in 'fast time', although thankfully
it can be slowed down if the pace becomes too hectic
(which it does).
again, the general idea is to cover your tracks and
carefully avoid discovery. But the actual puzzle content
is very limited and instant arrests are far too common.
In the third chapter of Borderzone, the player
is a third character -- a double agent trying to prevent
the assassination of the American diplomat while making
the KGB think he's actually planning it. The action
takes place in and around Ostnotz square in Litzenburg,
packed with security forces. Moving around and exploring
the area is dangerous and, once again, great care must
be taken not to arouse suspicion.
is unusual in its subject matter, but Infocom implement
it very well and succeed in giving the player a feeling
of being there. The game comes with those now-expected
little extras that Infocom provide with their adventures
-- a book of matches, a business card, a map and a very
amusing phrase book/tourist guide.
it's much too easy, and I'm not sure I like the built-in
hint system (I prefer invisiclues). Apparently this
is a marketing ploy -- the player succumbs to the temptation
of reading the hints, quickly finishes the game and
soon needs another Infocom product to play! Yet perhaps
Infocom are releasing too many games, and should
sit back on their laurels and come up with some deeper