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The source files and a precompiled ZMachine storyfile of this adventure were recovered from a salvaged "Infocom hard drive", and made publicly available on GitHub in an effort to preserve them.

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The Witness

by Stu Galley

Mystery
1983

(based on 20 ratings)
4 member reviews

About the Story

February 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.

Difficulty: Standard

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: May 24, 1983
Current Version: Unknown
License: Commercial
Development System: ZIL
IFIDs:  ZCODE-13-830524
ZCODE-18-830910
ZCODE-20-831119
ZCODE-21-831208
ZCODE-22-840924
ZCODE-22-840924-D5B7
TUID: 6963a47vqgms8wi0

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(2)
4 star:
(4)
3 star:
(11)
2 star:
(2)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Early noir murder mystery, August 18, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Santa Cruz, CA)
This was one of Infocom's early games, following in the footsteps of Zork and the earlier mystery Deadline. Given Deadline's reputation for being quite difficult, some might find Witness too easy. I thought it was a good game with quite a few interesting twists. It's your basic murder mystery with several suspects, some interesting clues and a few red herrings. There are a few things that need to be pieced together and sometimes you have to wait for someone or something to happen. Still, I admit I was tempted by the InvisiClues! In case it's not clear, the inspiration for the title is that you're the witness to a murder that you then need to solve.

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

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Its biggest flaw was its price, June 20, 2020
The Witness has a reputation for disappointing customers. Having waited for a new Infocom release and plunked down dozens of early-1980s dollars, they expected a bigger and more challenging game. One that would keep them up late at night for days on end, playing and replaying key sequences trying to build up a godlike understanding of a clockwork world, much as Deadline had offered them.

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.)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A weaker detective story from Infocom, still polished, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: Infocom
Having just played Deadline for the first time, Witness was not as good, but still very polished. As others have noted, the solution to whodunnit isn't that hard. How they did it is harder.

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.

See All 4 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

The Witness appears in the following Recommended Lists:

The Canonical Infocom Games by wfaulk
This is a list of the canonical Infocom games in order of release, as according to the Infocom Fact Sheet.

Infocom Salvaged Adventures by Tristano
List of the Infocom adventures that were recovered from the salvaged Infocom hard drive, and their source code was published on GitHub in April 2019 by Jason Scott for educational purposes and in an attempt to preserve them from...

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Polls

The following polls include votes for The Witness:

Cool Murder Mystery/Detective Games by Christopher Caesar
Hey everybody. I am looking for a murder mystery text game. I finished An Act of Murder a while ago and want to play more games like that, where to get to solve the murder yourself. If you could tell me some of your recommendations that...

I am new to interactive fiction, could anyone recommend a game for me? by Urtikor
Hello, I just recently came across interactive fiction and I want to try it out and see if it's my kind of thing. I tried Dreamhold for maybe half an hour, but even though it seemed well written, solving puzzles isn't interesting for me....

I'm looking for mysteries. by MCCLUTCH32
I like a game with a good story, good puzzles that aren't too difficult to understand and a good mystery. I was thinking more along the lines of horror, but murder mysteries work as well.

See all polls with votes for this game

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This is version 6 of this page, edited by Zape on 23 August 2020 at 1:56am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item