A few months ago, I examined the first two of the “Sergeant Duffy” mysteries from Infocom: Deadline and The Witness. Both of these games were in service to the Infocom marathon that I have been working my way through over on The Adventure Gamer. Since those games already had reviews there, I discussed my experiences here. It’s time to do the same with the third and final game in that series: Suspect.
With the first game in the series being designed by Marc Blank, and the second by Stu Galley, I was surprised to find that this one was the brainchild of Dave Lebling. Lebling had been Blank’s collaborator on the original Zork series (starting with the mainframe version) and was one of the most well-regarded of the implementers at Infocom. I do not know whether he wanted to take a crack at the interactive mystery genre or whether he was pushed into it by market pressures, but he was a great choice for the role especially given his past history with Marc Blank. Immediately, it seems that Lebling shifted his game closer to Blank’s original: he moved the setting back to modern day (after a brief stint in the 1930s, film noir style) and brought the crime into a situation where there could be many possible suspects. He moved away from the previous games in one major respect: this time, we do not play as the detective but rather a reporter who is being framed for murder. So did he succeed? Let’s take a look.
Continue reading Infocom’s Suspect (1984) →
Not too long ago, I took a look at Deadline, Infocom’s first adventure game mystery as a side-story to the marathon that I’m currently writing for The Adventure Gamer. It was a genre-buster, proving once and for all that great adventures could be found in many genres. I am still slowly winding my way through early Infocom classics and I have finally reached Deadline’s pseudo-sequel: 1983’s The Witness. Tucked away in the middle of a run of science fiction adventures (after Starcross and Suspended but before Planetfall), it abandoned the contemporary setting of its predecessor for the hard-boiled detectives of the 1930s. Even though my colleague Ilmari already reviewed this game, I could not resist poking my head in to get the full Infocom experience.
While Deadline has been designed by Mark Blanc, one of the Infocom founders and co-writer on the Zork series, he did not have time to work on the sequel. Instead, he provided some aspects of the basic scenario to design-newcomer Stu Galley. Stu had been an Infocom founder, but he worked on the business side rather than the creative one. Nonetheless, Marc had too much on his plate and Stu was convinced to headline the game. Even from the start it is different than what came before: this time, the crime has not been committed yet. We’re going to witness the crime (hence, the title) and have twelve hours to figure out what really happened. Let’s play!
Continue reading Infocom’s The Witness (1983) →
Most of my blogging time these days is over on The Adventure Gamer where I am currently working on a marathon of Zork-related games by Infocom. I’ve recently completed and reviewed mainframe Zork (also known as Dungeon), Zork I, and Zork II and am about to start playing 1982’s Zork III. (You can find a complete index of my TAG contributions here.) Between the second and third Zork title, Infocom completed a monumental chapter in the history of computer games: Deadline, one of the first mystery games and one of the first games that could rightfully use the label “interactive fiction”. Previous “mystery” games such as Sierra’s Mystery House (another game I reviewed for TAG) were treasure hunts with mystery elements; finally we had a game that could stand beside the works of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
As my colleague on TAG, Ilmari, already reviewed Deadline (see his review here), I did not want to step on his toes by doing another official review there. And yet, I wanted the experience of playing the game and documenting my thoughts as I did. That leads us to this special bonus post: my play and review of Deadline here while I work on Zork III over there. I haven’t read Ilmari’s review so I am coming into this game completely unspoiled, except that I played a bit of it (and didn’t understand it very well) when I was a kid. Let’s play!
Continue reading Infocom’s Deadline (1982) →