The Witness is an interactive fiction computer game written by Stu Galley and published by Infocom in 1983. Like Infocom's earlier title Deadline, it is a murder mystery. The Witness was written in ZIL, 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.
The game takes place in Cabeza Plana, a quiet (and fictitious) 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 living 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.
The suspects include:
With a little exploration, it can easily be proven that Stiles was near the window around the time of Linder's death. But naturally, this is much too neat an explanation; the truth is much more convoluted.
Eventually, the player can prove that Freeman Linder had developed an elaborate scheme. Since he believed Stiles was responsible for his wife Virginia's suicide, he planned to lure Stiles to his house by offering money, then frame him for attempted murder. Linder enlisted Monica to hide a handgun within a grandfather clock and attach a tiny explosive charge to the window. When Linder pressed the button, allegedly to ring for Phong, it would simultaneously detonate the charge and fire the gun, creating the illusion that someone had shot at Linder through the window. The bullet would miss him, he thought, and Stiles would go to jail.
- Ralph Stiles, a roguish grifter and the late Virginia Linder's former lover
- Monica, the Linders' sullen daughter
- Phong, the Linders' Asian manservant
Monica blamed Freeman for her mother's suicide, however. Virginia Linder took her own life in despair because she felt that her husband had emotionally abandoned her, not because of Stiles' influence. Monica subtly altered the angle of the gun so that the shot would be fatal instead of a near-miss. Phong had collaborated in the plot to frame Stiles, but had no idea of Monica's plan to commit murder.