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Border Reivers

by Vivienne Dunstan profile

Mystery
2018

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Number of Reviews: 2
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Conversation-based murder investigation in fifteenth century Scotland, December 23, 2018
Border Reivers is a parser-based mystery set in Scotland in 1495. I didn't know what the "border reivers" were, so I looked them up. According to Wikipedia, they were "raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century." This gives me a setting I had not seen before in any book I've read or IF game I've played.

At the beginning of Border Reivers you are summoned by your father to help solve a murder, that of the son of one of the local lairds. The opening text says you have suspicions that something is going on in addition to the murder.

Gameplay mostly consists of asking various characters (and there are over a dozen of these!) about each other, the murder, the castle, and various other related topics.

I think Border Reviers is particularly strong on setting. The writing is also good, and the implementation is solid. Perhaps more of the default responses could have been changed, but then again that doesn't matter a whole lot in a conversation-focused game like this one.

I think the game is weaker when it comes to the investigation of the murder. I would have liked more clues to discover and analyze. As it stands, there are a few conversation topics that function as clues, but other than those there is only one physical clue in the game (that I saw, at least).

Border Reivers also has a particular crucial event occur after a certain number of terms, potentially revealing who's guilty before you've actually figured that out. This limits the game's replay value.

Overall, strong setting, good writing, and solid implementation, but more physical investigation and an alternative method for having a particular crucial event occur would have made Border Reivers more fun to play.