Interactive movies… you might say that if you have played one of them, you have played them all. From the humble beginnings with pixelated miniature slide shows up to the fullscreen full motion video titles, all of them have one thing in common: A shallow plot combined with bad acting, interspersed by obscure and out of nowhere puzzles. The game we are going to discuss today, Black Dahlia, tried its best to leave this reputation behind by turning things up to eleven, with really high production values and an even somewhat creative story.
One could argue Trinity came three years too late. The US Senate refused to ratify SALT II even already a couple of years earlier, the civil Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down out of paranoia in September '83, the Able Archer excercise showed a new quality of macho provocation, and at the end of the same year, the German parliament finally made way for the implementation of the NATO Double-Track Decision, i.e. the stationing of new nuclear missiles right at the iron curtain separating Europe. The most striking example of fictional media coverage of this new height of tension certainly was The Day After, first shown on TV the very same year. In 1986, when Trinity was released, even though the situation certainly was anything but stable, things seemed to be developing in the opposite direction already again. Had Infocom taken too long to deliver their treatment of the mainstream fear of nuclear war?
In this cyberpunk adventure's intro, we witness Joshua Reevs receiving a new task. Several technical achievements, like the hover board or the aircar, have become commonplace in every day life of 2099 in the twilight of omnipresent neon billboards located in run-down corners of shady districts. Those are inhabited by gangsters, thieves and day labourers, and order is only barely maintained through the constant droning of the giant screens, but also such respectable law enforcement officers as Joshua, whose military instincts have been sharpened fighting on the front lines. None other than the governor of Union City, capital of America's New Order, Hugh Martens, is the customer acting quite mysteriously. The almost omnipotent mega-corp Genesis, exerting its power on the government through straw men, has been threatened and attacked by an underground terrorist group. One of the gouvernor's agents, disguised as a journalist, has not returned from a meeting with the terrorists. So Mr. Reevs, aka the player, finds himself on top of the apartment building where said agent Simon Ruby used to live.