The Witness

aka: Invitation To Murder, The Witness - An INTERLOGIC Mystery, The Witness: Somebody's going to take the Deep Six!, Witness
Moby ID: 61
CP/M Specs
See Also

Description official descriptions

The Witness is a text adventure in which the player takes control of a police detective working near Los Angeles. The year is 1938, and on this stormy February night a wealthy but frightened man has asked the detective for protection. In spite of his best efforts, a death occurs, and the hero has twelve hours to solve the mystery and try to arrest the killer. If the player thinks there is enough evidence against one or more suspects to convince a jury of their guilt, he or she can arrest them and conclude the case.

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (PC Booter version)

Design
Based on an idea by

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 7 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 48 ratings with 3 reviews)

The stuff that dreams are made of.

The Good
In The Witness, you are a detective called by a wealthy importer/exporter who has received a death threat from his deceased wife's lover. Unfortunately he dies in front of you, leaving you to solve his murder within twelve hours. This game has a small cast, but all are likely suspects. You'll need to interview witnesses, test alibis and gather clues.

Collecting evidence and having it analyzed is one of the best features of this game. Sgt. Duffy, your assistant, will send evidence down to the boys in the lab for a quick analysis. Using their forensic interpretation, you'll have to establish motive and opportunity for the murderer. Fail to do this and the criminal will go free.

This is one of the few Interactive Fiction games I've played in which characters move freely around the house. You'll need to follow them, watch what they are doing, or lay in wait for them.

The Bad
There is very little not to like about this game. Once you have successfully solved the case, there is little replay value except for some experimentation. There aren't too many characters and after a while the house will seem small. Technically there are multiple endings, although only one successful one. My biggest complaint is the amount of waiting required in the beginning. Once the scripted death scene occurs, you can begin your investigation however you choose.

The Bottom Line
A fun mystery set in the 1938's California. Very enjoyable and one of my favorite Infocom games. This one is well-written, has a great parser and excellent conversations.

DOS · by Terrence Bosky (5398) · 2001

An excellent concept, but suffers from a limited scope

The Good
“The Witness” is the second of the mystery text adventures or interactive fictions produced by Infocom. The game shares a number of features in common with its predecessor, “Deadline”. “The Witness” also sets you in the role of a policeman investigating a murder by investigating his home. As with “Deadline”, there is a 12 hour time limit to solve the crime and each move made by the player advances the clock by a minute.

Instead of a modern setting as in “Deadline”, however, “The Witness” is set in Los Angeles in 1938. This is a natural setting for a mystery game since it recalls the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The time period is captured well through descriptions and period slang. The game box also includes a number of high quality materials to help build the setting. The characters in “The Witness” are the game’s strongest feature, as they are developed nicely with sharp dialogue. A few of the NPCs also move freely about the game area, which makes them more realistic.

There is really one main idea that the story of “The Witness” builds on and which the player discovers by the end of the game. Fortunately this idea is interesting, and the author tied everything in the story together with an explanation of the full story earned when the game is completed successfully.

A satisfying point about “The Witness” is that its puzzles can probably be solved by adventure gamers with minimal clues given enough time. Some may say that this makes the game too easy, but it was nice that the puzzles were not too obscure. The parser is generally good about responding to player input. As in “Deadline”, one of the fun tools players have in their arsenal is to have objects analyzed by Sergeant Duffy for anything that may shed light on the solution to the mystery. The game includes enough details and false leads to potentially give players a decent run before they crack the case.

The Bad
The first notable negative point about “The Witness” is the protracted opening sequence before the main game starts, which could have been shortened at least somewhat. While the main idea behind “The Witness” is interesting, its limited scope is a detractor. One of the appeals of mysteries is their tangled plots, especially when following the genre of mysteries like “The Big Sleep” or “The Maltese Falcon”. “The Witness” is lacking in this area because there is not many secrets that have to be discovered by the player during the bulk of the gameplay. The number of NPCs is limited, which not only makes the mystery less interesting than it might be, but also means that the game’s major secrets can potentially be discovered quickly. “Deadline”, in contrast, had a number of threads in the mystery which were discovered by the player and woven together skilfully by the author.

The Bottom Line
“The Witness” is an Infocom mystery set in 1938 which challenges players to solve a murder. The setting is constructed nicely and what characters the game has are well-written. Another nice point about the game is that the puzzles are likely solvable with minimal clues, but some may dislike this because it makes the game easier than other Infocom titles. The opening sequence of “The Witness” is longer than it needs to be, but the main negative point about the game is the limited scope of its plot. With a finite number of NPCs and few secrets that need to be discovered to solve the case, “The Witness” misses its full potential.

DOS · by Ingold (119) · 2009

Nice 40's feel

The Good
A easier Deadline (good for the many who found Deadline too hard) is set in the 40's, in a Raymond Chandler-like story.

The Bad
A little too easy for my tastes.

The Bottom Line
Excelent starting point for the Infocom Mystery series. Nice 40's slang, too.

DOS · by Tony Van (2803) · 1999

Trivia

Like most Infocom games, the package for this one contains some fun goodies relating to the game:

A Detective Gazette magazine.

A suicide note.

A Western Union telegram.

A booklet of matches from The Brass Lantern.

The Register newspaper.

Analytics

MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Deadline
Released 1982 on PC Booter, DOS, 1986 on Amiga...
Spot Sample Witness Simulator
Released 2020 on Windows
Dead Space 3: Witness the Truth Pack
Released 2013 on Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Mato Anomalies: Witness of Truth
Released 2023 on Windows, Nintendo Switch
Going Up?
Released 2019 on Windows, Macintosh
Contradiction
Released 2015 on Windows, Macintosh, iPad
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain
Released 2019 on Nintendo Switch, Macintosh, Windows
Backpackers Guide to the Universe Part 1
Released 1984 on ZX Spectrum
The Museum
Released 1989 on DOS

Related Sites +

  • Infocom homepage
    At this site you can find information on ALL of Infocom's interactive games, Infocom related articles, sample transcripts, InvisiClue hints, walkthroughs, maps and information on buying Infocom games today.
  • The Commodore Zone
    All about the game, with introduction, images, related links and comments area.
  • The Infocom Gallery
    High-quality scans of the grey box package and manual of The Witness.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 61
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brian Hirt.

Amstrad CPC added by Rola. TRS-80 CoCo added by Slik. Apple II added by Droog. Commodore 64 added by Terrence Bosky. Atari 8-bit, CP/M added by Kabushi. Macintosh, Amiga, Commodore 16, Plus/4 added by Terok Nor. Amstrad PCW added by Игги Друге. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Dietmar Uschkoreit, MAT, Belboz, Terrence Bosky, Pseudo_Intellectual, mo , formercontrib, c64fan.

Game added March 1, 1999. Last modified January 19, 2024.