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The year, 1938. The place, Los Angeles. A wealthy but paranoid man has asked you, a police detective, for protection. But despite everything you do, the man is killed. Can you find who killed Freeman Linder?
The Witness was Infocom's second detective adventure after Deadline, and anyone who is frustrated with that game's extremely high difficulty level will be happy to know that The Witness is much easier and more straightforward. Unfortunately, it is also less fun to play.
The good news is that the parser is much better than 1982's Deadline. The game now understands a wider range of synonyms. But there isn't much you would need to blame the parson on: the game is not hard at all, as the plot develops quickly and it is not difficult to just "stumble" upon the murderer. That is not to say you wouldn't need to do any investigative work in the game; the clues are just more obvious and there are fewer "trigger events" that you must witness to finish the game.
The plot in The Witness is well thought-out, but the writing is not as atmospheric as Deadline, although the game still does a good job of evoking the feel of the 1930's. Fortunately, the NPCs in the game are very well designed, each imbued with a wide range of actions and reactions that will entertain you long after you have already solved the game.
Overall, The Witness is another solid Infocom game. It is much easier than Deadline, making it a a good intermediate-level game somewhere between Moonmist and Deadline. It may not be Infocom's best work, but it is still better than most other mystery games in Infocom's canon, including Suspect and Moonmist. Recommended!
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