Borrowed Time

aka: Time to Die, Time to die...
PC Booter Specs [ all ]
Buy on Amiga
Buy on Apple II
Buy on Commodore 64


Borrowed Time is set in mid-1930's. The player assumes the role of a private investigator named Sam Harlow, who has to solve the kidnapping of his ex-wife Rita Sweeney. At the beginning, he runs away from two thugs, who want to kill him for an unknown reason. They fail, and he begins to search the town for clues, asking its inhabitants for information. But if the player makes a wrong move, Sam dies - killers come from nowhere and murder him...

The player has to type in combinations of verbs and nouns to make an action. Locations are described in text form and presented by pictures, the latter often providing additional information not contained in the text description.

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Credits (PC Booter version)

6 People

Story by
Graphics by
Package Design
  • Neumeier Design Team



Average score: 88% (based on 8 ratings)


Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 20 ratings with 1 reviews)

A very good adventure game, with the look and feel of a detective movie

The Good
Borrowed Time is a very good adventure game from Activision, the same crowd who was responsible for Mindshadow. It has the same look and feel of those 1930's detective movies. The player is put in the shoes of Sam Harlow, whose ex-wife Rita is kidnapped and he attempts to free her while getting away from gangsters that pursue him along the way.

If you ever wanted to become a detective, now is your chance. Throughout the game, you have to map out the area, search buildings, obtain items, and do everything a true detective does. Unlike other detective games that I have played, in this one you have to be more careful.

Before you start the game, you have the opportunity to view the “living tutorial”, a feature unique to Activision's early adventure games. Anyone unfamiliar with adventures can learn what adventure games are and what you do in them. The game lists the commands it recognizes, and tells you that you can combine commands to save time (eg: GET RECEIPT AND READ IT), a useful feature that is missing from other adventure games of its kind. In fact, you are encouraged to combine commands since it is imperative that you don't waste any time typing individual commands. There are pages of information, but you can quit at any time.

The graphics are crisp and colorful on the Amiga, and there are some good animations in most of the scenes, such as the water cooler in Harlow's office and the fight in the car yard. Just like any other text adventure out there at the time, there is no sound.

Inside the game, the screen is laid out nicely. Next to the main screen on the right is a series of commands, split in two columns for verbs and nouns respectively. Below that is the inventory and a compass, and the description and input prompt below that. The player can press [Return] to switch to the text-only mode for nostalgia's sake. Actions are performed with mouse or keyboard, by selecting a verb/noun sequence or typing commands in at the keyboard. I find it quicker to get things done with the keyboard.

The Bad
Death is so commonplace in the game. As the inside cover suggests, It is more likely that you will be killed if you make one wrong move. Thugs will be chasing you from time to time, and you have to hide from them. You have a gun in inventory, but it is next to useless.

The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Borrowed Time is a very good detective game right up there with movies and novels of its kind, and anyone who is interested in those will enjoy this game. The graphics are crisp and have good animations. Due to the ability to switch to text-only mode, and the use of the keyboard instead of the mouse, the game also appeals to those nostalgic fans that are familiar with text-only adventures such as Zork. Although death can be a bit of a problem in the game, it can be fun to die just to see what happens to the main character.

Amiga · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2015



There is a hidden picture known as "Yummy". It shows Brian Fargo (the boss of Interplay) cutting off the head of an unnamed programmer, according to Rebecca Ann Heineman, who was a programmer there at the time.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by POMAH.

Macintosh added by iShrek.

Additional contributors: MAT, Peter Ferrie.

Game added June 12th, 2003. Last modified August 30th, 2023.