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Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, TRS-80, TI-99/4A, Macintosh
Release 13: May 24, 1983 Release 18: September 10, 1983
Release 20: November 19, 1983
Release 21: December 8, 1983
Release 22: September 24, 1984
The Witness is an interactive fiction computer game published by Infocom in 1983. Like Infocom’s earlier title Deadline, it is a murder mystery. The Witness was written in the ZIL language for the Z-machine, which allowed it to be released simultaneously on many popular computer platforms including the Apple II and the Commodore 64. It is Infocom’s seventh game.
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Screenshot of the beginning of The Witness
The game takes place in Cabeza Plana, a quiet (and fictitious – the name is Spanish for “Flathead”, an inside joke from Zork mythology) suburb of Los Angeles, California in February 1938. Freeman Linder, a local millionaire, has begged the police for protection from a man named Stiles. The player’s character is a detective assigned one evening to check out the wealthy man’s claims.
Is Linder seriously in danger or just another rich eccentric? Before the player can decide, a window explodes and Linder collapses, dead. The case of possible harassment has just become a murder, with the player as the only witness. With the help of Sgt. Duffy (last seen in Deadline), the player has until sunrise to solve the mystery. As usual, motive, method and opportunity must all be established to secure a “solid” arrest and the optimal ending.
Enjoying playing Deadline more than Zork, Stu Galley decided to write another mystery game as its counterpart; while Deadline is set in the eastern United States on a summer day, Witness is set in the West Coast at night. For authenticity, he obtained a 1930s Sears catalog and researched contemporary slang; the radio plays the programs that aired on the day the game occurs in.
Included in each