Suspect (video game)
|Release||October 5, 1984|
Suspect is an interactive fiction computer game designed by Dave Lebling and published by Infocom in 1984. It is the last murder mystery Infocom released, bringing an end to a popular genre of titles such as Deadline and The Witness. Like most Infocom titles, it was written in highly portable ZIL and made available for an array of popular computer platforms, including the Apple II, IBM PC, Atari ST, and Commodore 64. It is Infocom's fifteenth game.
The player's character is a reporter for the fictitious newspaper The Washington Representative. Veronica Ashcroft-Wellman, a longtime friend and wealthy socialite, has sent an invitation to the annual Ashcroft Halloween Ball, where Maryland's high society bluebloods rub elbows, network, and congratulate each other on their fortunes. The paper's editor suggests covering the party as a story, smelling an easy article that could either praise or mock the wealthy. Since it is a costume party, the player's character suits up in a rented cowboy outfit and moseys over to the bash. Many attendees wear masks, making it difficult to initially identify them.
Not long into the party, however, Veronica is found dead—strangled with a very familiar-looking lariat, with a bullet from the costume's gunbelt lying near the body for good measure. But the player stashed the rope in the closet earlier, and the bullet is missing from the back of the belt; anyone could have taken them! Nevertheless, the player is the prime suspect in Veronica's murder. A lot of snooping has to be done to identify the real killer.
The other suspects include:
- Michael Wellman, Veronica's husband (dressed as a sheik)
- Richard Ashcroft, Veronica's brother (dressed as a werewolf)
- Linda Meade, Richard's girlfriend (dressed as a ballerina)
- Samuel Ostmann, a local businessman (dressed as a vampire)
- Alicia Barron, Veronica's friend and former schoolmate (dressed as a "harem girl")
- William Cochrane, a realtor who had dealings with the Ashcrofts (dressed as an astronaut)
- Colonel Robert Marston, family friend and director of Ashcroft Trust (dressed as a safari explorer)
- Smythe, the butler (dressed as a gorilla)
The majority of Infocom's titles were shipped with additional objects or documents relating to the game. These "extras" were called feelies. The Suspect feelies were:
- The satirical book Murder and Modern Manners: A Practical Guide to Murder Manners
- A business card from William Cochrane for King's Point Realty (written on the back: "Veronica— Please call me ASAP. Don't do something you'll regret. Bill")
- A receipt from "Costumes Unlimited" for the rental of one cowboy costume with lariat and gunbelt
- An invitation to the Halloween Ball thrown at Ashcroft Manor (written inside: "Dearest... It has been too long since we last talked. Please do try to come to the party. There are so many things I have to tell you. Until then, Veronica")
- A note from the editor of The Washington Representative asking the player's character to cover the ball for the newspaper
- A page from The Maryland Countryside magazine, featuring an article about developers encroaching on the "Hunt Club" countryside and a society column piece about the upcoming Halloween Ball
Suspect was a popular game and sold well. Based on sales and market-share data, Video magazine listed the game seventh on its list of best selling video games in March 1985.
Infocom appeared to make grues a running gag in their games. Here, there is a barn near the estate where a race horse is stabled. The name of the horse is "Lurking Grue". In one outcome, somebody gets trampled to death when he enters the barn.