Escape From Colditz logo

Publisher: Digital Magic Price: £24.95

According to the Geneva Convention prisoners of war must be given a fair share of the creature comforts of home. Naturally, this often leads to a more relaxed form of imprisonment than would be experienced in a normal jail.
A captured officer, however, has certain objectives to accomplish these include hampering the enemy at all times and attempting escape at every possible opportunity.

During the Second World War hundreds of Allied troops were incarcerated in German prisoner of war camps. Probably the most famous was located at Colditz Castle in Saxony - an impregnable fortress on top of a stone hill.
Colditz was special in that it was the final place of capture for any problem prisoner the Germans encountered. Colditz, otherwise known as Oflag IV C, was deemed escape proof.

As an allied captive, you must lead four prisoners to freedom by evading the watchful gaze of the German guards. Your team comprises a British captain, a French sergeant, an American lieutenant and a Polish private. Guiding the men around the fortress, you collect all the useful items you can lay your hands on.

Some parts of the castle are restricted areas and should you be caught there you'll be thrown into solitary confinement. Other areas can only be accessed if you have thr right keys, which can be found dotted around the rooms.

The best means of escape seems to be by tunnelling. If you have a saw, a pick-axe and a candle you can begin to form an escape route. With your fellow prisoners set up as stooges you can attempt to dig undetected.

The guards follow a strict timetable. During set times you'll be given free access to the courtyard in order to exercise. Avoiding the guards, you may be able to slip into areas usually out of bounds.

If you are daring enough, you may even contemplate collecting a German uniform, passes and papers, and try walking out of the front gate. However beware, if you are caught the guards take great delight in gunning you down.

Based on the best-selling Gibsons-Games board game, Colditz is a classic of strategy and exploration. Digital Magic reckon there are some 42 ways to escape - I've only discovered two!

The package comes complete with a paperback book describing the daredevil bravado, shown by the prisoners at Colditz. Featuring an accurate floor plan, Colditz gives you the chance to relive the nail-biting days of Colditz Castle.

Escape From Colditz logo


A more Wagnerian scene you couldn't imagine. A massive Schloß perched on a high rocky outcrop in deepest Germany. Strong, big and 600 years old. Castle Colditz was being used as a secure lunatic asylum until the outbreak of the Second World War. The German Army designated it Oflag IVC, and used it for housing those stubborn Allied POWS who were most determined to regain their freedom.

Escape From Colditz has been available as a successful boardgame for years, but this Amiga version takes the concept much, much further. You switch control between four characters, an Englishman, an American, a Pole and a Frenchman. They start off in their dormitories and must explore the castle using the lock-picks and fake keys which they must collect from different rooms.

Itz cold in solitary
As in the board-game, there are vital items of escape equipment secreted in obscure places (the chapel and canteen are good locations to search), and the objective is to accumulate Ausweis passes, lookalike uniforms, rope and other gear for your men.

Once they have enough (or so you think), they can make a bid for freedom. This might be through one of the tunnels, under the wire or even by bluffing their way through the main gates!

A map of the ground floor is provided, but the upper levels, where you start, need to be researched thoroughly before you build up an accurate overview. There are mazes of small rooms and corridors, most out of bounds for the POWS so an exciting element of hide-and-seek emerges as your men try and avoid the patrolling guards.

The supplied instructions for the game are minimal, which is actually in keeping with the exploratory feel as your men roam round the forbidden areas of the castle planning their escapes. You soon pick it up, and can concentrate on plotting your moves.

Capture in an out-of-bounds zone means a solitary spell in the cooler and the confiscation of that man's equipment. This is annoying, but infinitely preferable to the hail of Schmeisser fire you will receive if spotted in a really forbidden area. So caution and prudency are sensible watchwords.

There is a castle far away
Colditz is an absorbing and skillful game. The challenge is great, because the castle was reputedly escape-proof, anr rightly so. Every time you play you will learn and explore more, so it manages to hold its initial interest. Computer-controlled events like Appel roll-calls, exercise trips to the yard and random guard searches make the game more fun, if even harder. Racing along the corridors ahead of the guards exercises your joystick fingers in time-honoured Amiga fashion, too.

The 3D graphics are perfectly serviceable and there is enough detail to keep you playing, and to remind you roughly where you are in the forbidding castle. In particularly-detailed rooms the graphics do slow down considerably, but this isn't really a major flaw.

What Colditz does have is fascinating gameplay, and, if you bother to read the book a great deal of historical interest Once completed you won't want to do it again in a hurry, but that completion might take some time. The difficulty of the task looms large but if you're the sort to be easily daunted by guards, walls and barbed wire you certainly wouldn't have "graduated" to incarnation in Colditz Oflag IVC in the first place.


Escape From Colditz comes complete with a large tome written by Major Pat Reid. He was one of 30-odd POWs who actually got out. Most went via Switzherland, often posing as Flemish-speaking Belgians to avoid using their somewhat abysmal German.

The escapes were often unbelievable, though 100s of feet of tunnels, often etched along the castle's stone walls. Others got out by hiding in vehicles servicing the garrison.

During the last months of the camp, the Allies had partitioned off a large portion of an attic and were constructing a two man, completely airworthy glider. The Germans never knew of its existence and it was never officially removed after the Americans liberated the castle. As Major Reid speculates in his book, it's probably still there to this day.

Flucht aus dem Nazi-Schloß

Escape From Colditz logo

Vom gleichnamigen Brettspiel gingen weltweit über eine Million Exemplare über den Ladentisch, hierzulande kennt es trotzdem kein Mensch. Auch egal - Brett ist Brett, und Computer ist Amiga...

Der Autor der Originalvorlage hat bei der Versoftung persönlich "Geburtshilfe" geleistet: Herausgekommen ist ein 3D-Action-Adventure mit strategischem Einschlag, das am Schirm komplett ohne Spielbrett auskommt (na also).

Stattdessen gibt es sechs Stockwerke mit 750 Räumen - jeder Level ist immerhin 20 x 20 Bildschirme groß. Ein bis vier Spieler schlüpfen in die Rollen alliierter Offiziere, die aus der Nazi-Gefangenschaft entfliehen wollen.

Wie bei jedem anderen Arcade-Adventure auch, müssen vorwiegend diverse Gegenstände (deutsche Uniformen, Schlüssel, etc.) gefunden und später sinnvoll eingesetzt werden.

Der Gag dabei: Auch Solo-Spieler steuern alle vier Charaktere, man muß immer wieder zwischen den Akteuren hin- und herschalten!

Es macht Spaß, durch die hübsch gestalteten Räume zu schleichen und Schubladen oder Schränke zu durchwühlen; auch die Rätsel sind nicht übel. Oft müssen die Gefangenen sehr eng zusammenarbeiten um einen der 20 möglichen Fluchtwege herauszutüfteln.

Technisch hätte allerdings etwas mehr Mühe nicht geschadet: Obwohl die Grafiken sehr fein und detailfreudig sind, lassen die Animationen doch zu wünschen übrig, der Sound beschränkt sich auf ein paar Effekte.

Davon abgesehen ist Escape From Colditz ein ganz beachtliches Spielchen - ob man nun die Vorlage kennt oder nicht! (T. Kansas/ml)

Escape From Colditz logo

Software based on board games is usually a recipe for disaster (or at the very least mental tedium) since they take away their source of appeal - the fact that everyone sits around and swearing at each other. Colditz is a notable exception - playing it on computer actually enhances the fun.

Now if you're not a devotee of escape novels, or '70s TV programmes then you won't know what Colditz was a castle to which the Germans sent the most persistent escapers in World War II.
It was a sort of reform school for naughty POWs. It was considered so secure that no-one could ever escape. Naturally they did (Airey Neave for one), and this game challenges you to emulate their feats.

You have four characters - a Brit, a Frenchman, a Yank and a Pole - under control which basically gives you four opportunities to escape. You begin in the British quarters depicted, as all the screens are, in isometric 3-D.

Your character is small but detailed and you can make roam around at will, which is the idea. There are hundreds of rooms in the labyrinthine castle and you'll need to explore as many as possible to find an escape route and the means to carry it out. Mapping is essential.

As you wander around, (looking totally suspicious, hands in pockets) you'll find useful tools Dotted around the place are lock picks, candles, keys, a shovel, pick axe, pass and even a German uniform. These are often hidden in out of the way spots like the orderlies' room and you have to risk detection in an off-limits area to find them.

When you wander into a forbidden area (such as the German quarters) the idea is to set up a stooge by pressing F10. Control will automatically alert you and switch to him as soon as a guard makes an appearance.
If you run out of luck, the best you can expect is a spell in solitary (which lasts for about ten minutes). The worst scenario results in your being shot - quite likely if you're caught in the courtyard when you're not supposed to be there (although there is a five minute period to explore during recreation, so use your time wisely). If you lose a man, you simply switch to another, until all four are exhausted.

Colditz doesn't come with a great soundtrack or earth-shattering graphics, but it's still completely absorbing. Neatly packaged, it comes with a book that contains two stories written by a real-life Colditz POW. There's plenty to imprison you at your keyboard for hours here.

Oflag IVC, othwerise known as Colditz, was the most feared Nazi POW camp. It was reputedly escape-proof, although that didn't stop interns from tyring, or succeeding. Bizarre escape plans, straight out of films, were hatched. Dummies were made, lock picks were improvised and tunnels were dug. Between 1941 and 1945 over 30 allied prisoners of war escaped, much to the annoyance of Gestapo chief Himmler, who ordered the execution of several successive commandments.
When the Nazis surrendered the Russians moved in, occupying Colditz and its neighbouring town. The first POWs were released ten days later.

Escape From Colditz logo

Show Paul Lakin a tube of smarties and a bent hairpin and he'll show you a fully operational glider complete with in-flight movie and Singapore girl. Who better then to try to find his way out of DMS's Colditz?

Do you remember Colditz on telly? Surely no one can forget the episode where the man pretended to be mad (largely through the unning play of dribbling his porridge) to get himself released from Colditz. Hurrah! One in the eye for old Fritz. Then of course it turned out he really had gone mad. Oh how we wept and how we made sure that we only ate our porridge in easy to manage portions. For a few years events in Oflag IVC dominated television like Ramsey Street does today.

Then along came the board game which enlivened many a Christmas or rainy Sunday with frenzied arguments about whose turn it was to be the Germans. Fortunately, things have changed since the board game has become a computer game - the cry goes up "At last no arguments about who has to be the Germans."

In fact there need to be no arguments about anything since the game is, to all intents and purposes, for one player. (Though since you can flick between four prisoners it would be possible - if a little laborious - to play it as a four player game).

The object of the game is to get all four prisoners out of the castle successfully (no surprises there then) with the right equipment to see them over the border. Equipment for both the escape and the border crossing can be found lying around the castle. However, it must be picked up without running into the prowling guards.

Once spotted somewhere you shouldn't be, such as the courtyard or Eva Braun's shower (oo-er), the call goes up for your arrest. Trying to avoid arrest might well buy you a few crucial minutes extra freedom but it might also get you a rather vicious bullet I the back.

All the stern stuff of prison life is here. Tunnels in the chapel, keys in the stairwell and roll calls at the most inconvenient times imaginable. In fact the only things that are missing are the theme music and an "eat porridge" option.

Amiga reviewPaul: I've never really got to grips with this escaping malarkey. To be honest if I were captured in a war my first thoughts wouldn't be "It's every Officer duty to escape" but "Coo I'm well out of that, think I'll put my feet up for the duration." Ah well, that's what comes of being descended from Lord Henri de Lakin, The Cowardly Count, a man who changed sides almost as often as he changed underwear.

However, in computer games the sprites do all the dying for you so I launched myself into Colditz with relish. If it needs pigeonholing Colditz is an arcade adventure, in as much as you need to collect items to overcome obstacles. But it's not a linear game since you don't progress by stages; escapes have to be built up and carefully planned.

When arrested you lose all your equipment so that careful escaper builds up equipment, uses the four prisoners in conjunction and proceeds with caution.

If your dream game is a shoot 'em up, then all this will be a bit dull for you. However, I found it fairly addictive. The graphics fit the theme well, although they get a bit jerky when the screen is crowded and sprite control is a bit dodgy on staircases. One strange effect is the way buildings in the courtyard vanish and appear as you walk around.

This is so you can see yourself when you walk round a corner or outhouse but it's a little disconcerting nonetheless. The prisoners' movements are rather more effective: when in walk mode they shuffle around hands in pockets like veteran scroungers.

The game is challenging enough and not one that is going to be completed in five seconds. There lies its fatal flaw. There's no flippin' Save Game option. How many people can spare three hours or more at a time? Even reviewers have other things to do with their time. This means that Colditz the computer game has the same drwback as Colditz the boardgame - no one's got time to play it. Stop