The Witness

by Stu Galley


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Early noir murder mystery, August 18, 2010
by ZUrlocker (Traverse City, Michgian)

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

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Xervosh, September 8, 2010 - Reply
My favorite "feelie" to come with "Witness" was the real pack of matches (with the phone number written inside). I actually used a few of the matches in that pack, so I know they worked. The entire contents of the game also came in this cool case file deal, like you sometimes see lawyers use.
ZUrlocker, September 9, 2010 - Reply
Yep, the feelies were definitely cool. I never thought to try the matches! Who knew?

And if anyone has one of the original Witness or Deadline Dossiers that they're willing to part with, let me know. I'm trying to rebuild my infocom collection.

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