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About the StoryFebruary 1938, Los Angeles. FDR's New Deal is finally rolling. Hitler's rolling, too; this time through Austria. But as Chief Detective for a quiet burgh on the outskirts of L.A., you've got other fish to fry.
One gilt-edged society dame is dead. And now it looks like some two-bit grifter is putting the screws to her multi-millionaire old man. Then you step in, and the shakedown turns ugly. You're left with a stiff and race against the clock to nail your suspect... unless you get nailed first!
Nobody said a sordid family affair like this was going to be a cinch. Everyone from the knock-out heiress to the poker-faced butler may end up in the slammer before it's over. Ahead of you is a Gordian knot of motives and alibis. And the only testimony you can trust is that of your own eyes - because you are The Witness.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Given the relatively primitive state of computers back in 1983 when Witness was written, it's an impressive game. Maybe by modern standards, it's a little sparse. Back then, infocom games clocked in at an impressive 128k, so there isn't a lot of verbose writing. As a result the number of rooms, people and objects is limited. Still, Stu Galley does a good job of capturing the "hard-boiled" detective feel of '30s pulp-era fiction even if it's more of a novella than a full blown novel. Still, Witness and Stu Galley's later games defined the golden age of Interactive Fiction that inspired many more authors to come.
This game is available as part of the Lost Treasures of Infocom series. If you like mysteries, you should seek this one out. The feelies in the original game are quite cool including a telegram, suicide note "Detective Gazette" and more. You can also find versions of the InvisiClues for download at http://www.waitingforgo.com/invisiclues/main.html
Instead, what they got was something players would stridently demand just a decade or so later: a game that was compact enough, and fair enough, to be solved without feeling like one should have earned college credit while doing so.
Although derivative, the feelies lean in deep and hard to the 1930s detective potboiler and pulp mystery markets. The character roster is indeed shallow but at least it's easy to keep track of who-means-what-to-whom. Galley's tweaks to standard parser responses mostly work to build the illusion. The variations in results for accusing and arresting suspects give enough teases and nudges to encourage playing again if you didn't reach the optimum solution.
So, at commercial release? This game definitely rates one star lower. The criticism from contemporary players and press was totally deserved. Without the big-ticket investment and pressure for this game and this game alone to offer several dozen hours of digital engagement? It's quite good. (The gaming market was tiny compared to the virtually limitless choice of the 21st century.)
Again, Sergeant Duffy is here to analyze everything for you . Again, there is a death you must investigate, and a (this time smaller) cast of characters you can interrogate.
You witness the death of a man, and you must uncover the mystery behind his death (thus the name of the game).
This was Infocom's second mystery game, and (I believe) the only one by Stu Galley.
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