Atari User


Suspect
By Infocom
Atari 400/800/600XL/800XL/130XE

 
Published in Atari User #7

Suspect

It was a wet night when I arrived at the mansion. As I entered, my reporter's instincts made me wonder whether I might be a little too conspicuous. I needn't have worried.

Over by the fireplace Titania, queen of the fairies, was chatting up a shiek. She was going on about one of her horses, name of Lurking Grue.

A vampire seemed to be enjoying himself hugely. A six-foot rabbit cavorted with a man-sized peanut butter sandwich. Three mice in dark glasses brushed past Pac-Man. An astronaut strolled up to the bar.

Suspect

Near the entrance, a gorilla was doing a splendid job of looking after the guest's coats.

Other assorted weirdos were discussing everything from politics to local scandals while the more athletic took to the dancefloor. By comparison, the cowboy looked the very model of sobriety and good taste. The man in the outlandish cowboy outfit was me.

I wasn't having a bad dream - the nightmare would come later. No, I was attending one of Veronica Ashworth's famous halloween parties.

Actually I was mixing business with pleasure. Pleasure because I had been invited as a friend of the hostess. Business because my editor through there might be a good story in it.

The fairy queen, none other than mine hostess Veronica, had clearly been knocking back the Buck's Fizz from quite early on. Her words were slurred and she was none too steady on her fairy pins.

Emphasising a point to the sheik, she waved her glass on high and succeeded in slopping alcohol and ice cubes all down her tinseled dress. Using a word that would make an elf's hair curl, she staggered off to clean up.

A little later, I saw Veronica again. She was slumped on the floor of her office elsewhere in the mansion. She was less than dead drunk - she was dead, period.

And if that wasn't enough to dampen my party spirits, my vowboy's lariat, which I could have sworn I hung up in the closet with my damp coat, was wrapped tightly round her pretty little neck.

Just to pay the cherry on the cake, a bullet lay by the body. Guess whose gunbelt had one empty cartridge loop? I could almost hear the click of the jail cell door.

So there I was, plunged deep into Suspect, a superb new text adventure from Infocom. Suspect is one of their best and follows in the footsteps of Deadline and Witness, their earlier detective adventures.

Deadline called you in to investigate a suspicious suicide, while Witness placed you as an eye witness to a dastardly crime.

In Suspect you find yourself far more embroiled in murder most foul than ever before - all the evidence points to you as the prime suspect. Unless you can find out who really dunnit and pronto, your reporting days are over.

The case is stacked against you from the outset. There's the rope for starters. Then there's the bullet and gunbelt. You're also an outsider.

Yes, it's a set-up all right but since you know you're not a killer, it follows that the real murderer must be among the motley collection of upper-crust characters present at the party.

The police are soon on the scene, among them Sgt. Duffy, of Deadline fame. What you must do is to build up a case by exploring the mansion and grounds, watching the talking to the various characters, and analysing and deducing.

Only by gathering enough irrefutable proof and presenting it to the police can you establish your innocence and another's guilt.

You can't make a citizen's arrest - you have to convince the detective to do that. You can accuse people though, but much good will it do you if you go around making wild allegations.

You have but a few hours (game time) to solve the mystery. Failure to do so will result in your being arrested and found guilty of second degree murder.

Suspect is graded as an advanced adventure, so it's likely you'll be arrested and convicted many times over many weeks. Never mind, the preceding stimulation and entertainment more than compensates for being falsely imprisoned.

All the Infocom hallmarks are here, massive vocabulary, sophisticated input parser, dazzling and detailed prose, twists and turns, good humour, plenty of original puzzles and multiple solutions.

No doubt about it, this is yet another excellent adventure from Infocom - how do they keep it up? I accuse Infocom of being maddeningly brilliant. Prove their guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt yourself by buying Suspect. I rest my case.

Bob Chappell

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