In 1996 Star Trek: Klingon gave us an educational view of the war-loving race. Later that same year, Simon & Schuster Interactive tried to do the same thing with the Federation's other great nemesis: the Borg. Except this hive-minded species doesn't really deserve an empathetic history lesson.
Borg does away with any attempt to educate us on the assimilated creatures and instead is it's own stand-alone story. You are an upstart Starfleet Academy cadet who, along with every other non-essential personel, has been grounded due to an imminent Borg threat. This is more than just disappointing for you, it's personal. When you were a boy, your father perished in the Wolf 359 battle against the Borg along with the rest of the crew of the USS Righteous. Now that they're back and headed towards Terra, you want some sweet revenge. Your appeal to stay and fight is denied so dejected, you head to your quarters and pack ready for evacuation. Then, out of nowhere Q appears, offering his omnipotent powers to take you back in time and turn the tides of the Righteous.
That's quite a synopsis for the non-trekkie to get to grasps with. "Borg? Wolf 359? Q? What are these words you spout?" I hear you say. Well, as anyone with a passing knowledge of the Trek-verse should know, the Borg are the half-human half-robotic bad guys. The Battle of Wolf 359 (a real-life star over 7 light years away) is a major battle in Star Trek lore between the United Federation of Planets and the Borg Collective. The Borg completely obliterate their unprepared opposition with little damage to their cube-shaped ship. And fan favourite Q (played by a wise-crcking John de Lancie on top form) is a higher alien being unbound by the constraints of time, space and reality. He also has a sharp wit and a pathological need to amuse himself, however dire the situation.
Got it? Well don't worry if you haven't. The game explains it all far better than I ever could. Much in the same way as Klingon, you can pause the game and click on whatever you want to know more about it. Instead of the dry encyclopedic narration of that earlier game, we're instead treated to the acerbic wit of Q commenting on your surroundings via your nifty tricorder. This contraption is also the catalyst for some light puzzling, though it gives the answers directly to you on its hand-held screen. It's more than what Klingon gave us at least.
Those puzzles are few and far between, easily being counted on one hand with fingers to spare. Most of the 'interactive' parts of this interactive movie boils down to multiple choice. It's not always clear what's the right way to go either. This means getting through the game successfully is nothing more than trial and error. At least Q will show up after each mistake to offer a quip or two.
The controls offer some slight differences to Klingon's that are tough to work out without foreknowledge. Q and S quit and save respectively, but this time the confirmation windows are in binary. In true Borg fashion '1' is the affirmative while '0' is the negative. A single right mouse click will pause the game so you can scan your surroundings while clicking on an empty space resumes play - a little easier to figure out than before.
Borg also has the additional support for the DOS platform. A step backwards, maybe but it opened up the game to a wider market back then. It does make it easier to run through DOSBox but the compression used to support full-screen video leaves some ugly black lines across the screen. In order for the developers to fit over 90 minutes of footage on three CDs (and to have it play at a decent framerate), every other line on the image is black. I've manages to soften it a little using DOSBox Daum for this release but it's not as crisp as I would've liked. Thankfully it doesn't hinder gameplay in the slightest.
At the end of the day, I rate this much the same way as I do Star Trek: Klingon. It's a good short film that's well directed and acted but it's not much of a game. As someone who can forgive a hell of a lot when presented with a good story, I really enjoyed it.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 to run the DOS game with additional benefits. Tested on Windows 10.
Star Trek: Borg is © Simon & Schuster Interactive
Star Trek (the franchise) is © CBS and ParamountReview, Cover Design and Installer created by me