Z-Machine Wednesday: The Witness (1983)

Released to store shelves by Infocom in 1983, the Witness was programmed by Stu Galley (SeaStalker, Moonmist), and many fans believe this title is a prequel to Deadline, which was released a year earlier. By the way, Stu Galley was invited into the Mystery Writers of America for his work on Moonmist.

“FEBRUARY 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 a race against the clock to nail your suspect… unless you get nailed first!

Nobody said a sordid familiy 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.”

Unfortunately this is one of the Infocom titles I’ve not had the pleasure of playing for myself, though thankfully I have found it online. A little research turned up that there are two Zork references in the title, one of the feelies included with the game is a matchbook from the Brass Lantern restaurant, which is of course a nod to the light source from Zork. The town where Freeman Linder (The quickly deceased) is named Cabeza Plana, which turns out to be Spanish for Flat Head, which is the name of the Royal Family in Zork.

As always a huge thanks to the Infocom Gallery for the awesome scanned images of the ‘Feelies’ and ‘Browsies’ you see in the gallery below.


Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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