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About the Story
You're guilty until proven innocent.
The puzzles are generally well done, but it suffers from a lack of vividness, and a lack of feeling that you're really there. [...] All in all though, Suspect remains a very solid effort, and well worth a play through.
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This type of Infocom can be really frustrating and I know a number of players who get bored with the gameplay. The reason is that it is tempting to ask characters about others and to try to follow suspects about and this approach gets nowhere. If you follow Veronica your path is blocked until the murder has taken place, so you need a different strategy. [...] This is an old style Infocom which is text-only with no hint facility, but I wish they still made them this way.
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Suspect is the third and last of what I consider Infocom's "quantum detective" games. "Quantum," because the game world is in an indeterminate state. There are events and people moving and acting on a schedule, and it is not possible to know what is happening in a specific location at a given time without going there. While there, the player cannot know what is happening everywhere else. While we are with Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory, we may not know where Miss Scarlet is.
The first of those "quantum" games was Deadline. It was technically innovative and was, narratively, a satisfying locked door mystery. However, the nature of the indeterminate map made for a very complex geography, with time as an added dimension. Author Marc Blank mitigated these complexities with a reasonably-sized map and only a handful of suspects.
Even with these concessions, Deadline is considered hard-as-nails, and I can't imagine anyone saying, "I'd like another Deadline, only with more people, more traffic, and even a few more rooms." I've always assumed that Lebling fell in love with solving the technical problems posed by Suspect, ultimately losing sight of what might or might not constitute an enjoyable game experience. Those of us with interest in programming or even writing in general can probably relate. To Lebling's credit, Suspect is very impressive technically. I would say that, at the close of 1984, it was Infocom's most impressive technical achievement, unseating the previous, 18-month titleholder, Suspended.
In Suspect, the protagonist is, in fact, the primary suspect of a murder committed at a high society Halloween Ball. There are fun period details: a band plays "Karma Chameleon." The costumes are a nice touch and serve the greater purposes of gameplay and atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the case will probably discourage many players. Several Infocom fans (myself included) name Suspect as one of the rare games that we either quit or else made an early beeline for hints. I personally could forgive this, but I can't look past the ommision of one of Deadline's defining charms: few of the characters have much, if anything, to say. While Deadline was incredibly generous with text responses, Suspect, having hit its 128K ceiling, is downright miserly. Sometimes, a character really ought to have a response to this or that thing, but all we get is a stock answer. It's jarring and frustrating. This happens, rather hilariously, with regard to the details of the murder, which really ought to be on everyone's mind.
There is presently only one review (besides mine) of this game here at IFDB, which I interpret as a lack of both contemporary interest and sentimental attachment. I personally cannot recommend it to anyone who does not have some sort of historical interest in either Infocom or the mystery genre. Still, technical competence or even brilliance is a redeeming factor. For this, I almost rated Suspect three stars, but it doesn't quite get there.
In just under a year, the best game of Lebling's career (and one of Infocom's best), Spellbreaker, would make for an incredible comeback story.
Suspect is an Infocom mystery game. It resembles Deadline more than Witness or Ballyhoo. You are at a party with a large crowd of people, and you are set up for the murder of the hostess.
This game features a large number of NPCs with independent actions. You have to figure out who committed the murder, and we, and who helped them.
Overall, it seemed difficult, but I just used a walkthrough after playing around a bit. I don't enjoy replaying long games over and over, (except for Adventure and Zork I, where you really just need to optimize your lantern use). The story was fun, and I enjoyed the feelies.
The game does give you clues on the actions you need to perform, usually by seeing something happen and saying to yourself "Oh! If I had done such and such EARLIER, I would have been fine!"
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