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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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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
The fact that its so easy may not actually be much of a minus these days; its kinda nice to download a game, spend some time on it, and then solve it. And you should be able to do that here. In fact, if you can't solve this, I'd say IF isn't your thing, and you're never going to be able to handle something like Zork I or Planetfall (both of which are far superior).
One obvious flaw: The game is so easy, in part, because there are so few suspect NPCs. There's Linder (the murder victim), his daughter, the other fellow (Ralph Stiles - I forget precisely how he's introduced into the game), and the Japanese gardener (plus there's an Irish cop). You know its one of those four...and you suspect its probably not the gardener (and you pretty much know its not the cop).
A weaker detective story from Infocom, still polished, February 3, 2016
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.
If you enjoyed The Witness...
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Recommended ListsThe Witness appears in the following Recommended Lists:
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...
Detective and mystery games by MathBrush
These are games where you play a detective or someone else investigating a mystery. Most of them are realistic games which I am splitting off of my realistic list. Some are more magical or science fi-ish.
PollsThe following polls include votes for The Witness:
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....
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...
This is version 5 of this page, edited by Tristano on 21 April 2019 at 5:31am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item