During the eighties and early nineties, the world of Adventure Games
belonged to Sierra
. Games series like King's Quest
, Space Quest
, Police Quest
, and Quest for Glory
, established the company's love of quests, and in 1989 there was Laura Bow: The Colonel's Bequest
, following in the same naming format of putting the word "quest" somewhere in the title of each game. The game was created by Roberta Williams of King's Quest
fame, and borrowed elements from Williams' Mystery House
, created in 1980 and known as one of the first graphical adventures.The Colonel's Bequest
used a traditional text parser and 16 color graphics, much like Sierra's other games of the time. The plot, which took place in 1925, involved protagonist Laura Bow, a graduate of Tulane University, being invited by her friend Lillian to her uncle's New Orleans plantation home, where relatives and employees have gathered for the reading of the old Colonel's will. Secrets and deceptions abound as the guests quickly start to disappear, and it is up to Laura to find out what is going on and solve the mystery before it is too late. Turns out she can't
: almost everybody will die regardless of what you do, and none of the secrets and deceptions are at all related to the murderer.
Unlike most of Sierra's adventures, the game stood out in that it focused on gathering information and evidence by asking questions or overhearing conversations rather than the typical formula of putting two items together to achieve a goal, although there were a few item-based puzzles to solve that would help Laura obtain additional clues. The player was required to figure out for themselves what was going on by piecing together parts of the story. In the end of the game, you find two fighting people and get to shoot either of them, and will receive a "good" ending or a "bad" ending depending on which you pick. There were also many clues that did not have to be uncovered in order to win the game, increasing replayability and challenging the player to become an amateur sleuth.
Another thing that made the game notable was that it ran on a time system that would change when Laura triggered an event every fifteen minutes, the entire game taking place over the course of one night. Because the game didn't tell you outright what you were supposed to do with the information you collected, it is difficult to know just what is going on on the first playthrough, and easy to miss important events if you triggered the next event too soon. Characters would make plans to meet in various places at certain times and could be followed or spied upon.
The second and last in the series, The Dagger of Amon Ra
(1992), used 8 bit colors and a point-and-click interface. It takes place a year after the first game, in New York, where Laura, now a newspaper reporter, is charged to write a story about the disappearance of an antique dagger from a local museum. Attending a benefit at the museum, she meets the various suspects, who quickly begin to die off one by one. This game had a similar time system but involved more straight-forward, item-based puzzles than the previous game. Like its predecessor, it also required the player to make their own conclusions in order to solve the murders. The identity of the murderer is not revealed at the end of the game, and instead the player is asked a series of questions in order to determine who the culprit is based on evidence collected.
The Series Provides Examples Of:
- Acquitted Too Late
- Amateur Sleuth: Laura (and by extension, the players themselves) in the first game.
- Always Murder
- Asshole Victim: The first game reveals just how nasty some of the family members can be depending on how much dirt Laura finds on them.
- Big Applesauce: Dagger of Amon Ra takes place in 1920s New York City.
- Big Secret: Almost everyone has one.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: In the first game, the revealed secrets make it clear the Colonel's family aren't on good terms.
- Book Ends: The Bad Ending of The Dagger of Amon Rah mimicks the opening except with the layout of the room mirrored and Laura getting shot instead of strangled.
- Bookcase Passage
- Broken Bridge: The Museum in the second instalment gets locked overnight, and none of the suspects are allowed to leave until the investigations are over. Naturally the keys get misplaced, the phone lines cut, and the murderer is inside.
- Cassandra Truth: No one ever believes Laura when she warns them about the murders. In the first game, half of the estate's inhabitants have been killed before anyone believes that something's happening.
- Chinese Launderer: One in the second game.
- Curtain Camouflage
- Darkness Equals Death: Don't go down that dark staircase underneath the mansion without a light!
- If Laura goes through any of the secret passageway tunnels in the sequel without either lighting the lamp before she enters or while inside, she will be attacked and killed by bats, which is odd when these tunnels have no critter or any other danger whatsoever when lit. Subverted in the last tunnels near the end of the game as while while she doesn't immediately get killed for entering the dark area, she can't do anything productive either.
- Dead Man's Chest: In The Dagger of Amon Ra.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Dr. Archibald Carrington in the second game.
- Dirty Cop: The murderer in the second game
- Dirty Old Man: Doctor Wilbur B. Feels of the first game.
- Dramatis Personae: The first game is presented as if it is a stage play, introducing the cast this way before the start of act one.
- Drop-In Nemesis: various things Laura did could cause the murderer to appear out of nowhere in the first game, including taking a shower, in an homage to Psycho, complete with a snarky Have a Nice Death. Which is kind of odd seeing as this could happen right at the beginning of the game long before Lillian snaps, starting her killing spree.
- Dysfunction Junction
- Evidence Scavenger Hunt: The point of both games is to find as much evidence as possible. The first one can be fair as you don't need to find everything, but the second requires you to back up your investigation with evidence.
- Everyone Is a Suspect: The first game as there is nobody in the mansion except for Laura and the Colone's family.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Both French people are massive flirts, and the first one is actually a French Maid, ... ooh la la..
- Everything Trying to Kill You: in true Sierra fashion, Laura will die if she so much as takes a wrong step, quite often in accidental but nevertheless cruel and brutal ways.
- Exact Eaves Dropping: Both games.
- Expy: The first game is a Darker and Edgier adaptation of the popular tabletop game Clue - turned into a narrative story as seen from the eyes of the detective. Though many liberties were taken in order to make it as engrossing as it is, most of the setting and characters are based directly on the tabletop game. Most notable are the characters of Colonel Dijon (Mustard) and Ethel Prune (Plum), the many secret passageways throughout the mansion, and the various weapons used by the murderer during the game (poison, pistol, dagger, and so on).
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the first game, walking down the hallway of a house will cause a chandelier to fall directly on top of Laura, crushing her to death.
- Funny Terrain Cross Section: In the first game, the underground passage to the mansion's secret basement contains a tyrannosaurus skeleton.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting
- Guide Dang It: even more than a typical Sierra game, considering many of the actions required to get the best ending don't make sense.
- Have a Nice Death: A cheesy message will appear whenever Laura is killed. The shower scene mentioned above gives you the death message "didn't Alfred teach you anything?"
- Heroes Want Redheads: Both the heroine and her love interest in the second game are redheads.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: After the Dagger is stolen in the second game, the thief tries to stash it among the replicas in the gift shop.
- Hidden Villain: Lillian, who you do not find out as the murderer unless you search very hard.
- Homage: The aforementioned shower scene. "Didn't Alfred teach you anything?!"
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Despite not being a typical Sierra "Quest" game, the first installment is called the "Colonel's Bequest" to harken back to it.
- Intrepid Reporter: Laura in the second game.
- It's a Wonderful Failure: Wouldn't be a Sierra game without many ways to fail.
- It Was Here, I Swear: In the first game, every time Laura comes across a dead body or the signs of a struggle, everything is immaculately cleaned up moments after she leaves, making it hard to tell anyone what's going on.
- The Jeeves: Lampshaded with the butler named Jeeves!
- The Killer Becomes the Killed: In both games:
- Lillian had done all the murders in the first game, yet was found dead in the garden. As it turns out, she had intended to kill Rudy, but Rudy had fought back and killed her in self defense.
- Watney Little had killed Carrington in the second game but was then killed by O'Riley.
- Lady Drunk: Ethel Prune in the first game
- Look Both Ways: In the second game, you need to look both ways before crossing the street, or Laura will be hit by a vehicle and killed.
- Moon Logic Puzzle: Often the information is there, the game just doesn't tell you what it means.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Feels
- Multiple Endings: In the first game, you either shoot the colonel, or do nothing and let Rudy kill him in the struggle, which is the bad ending or shoot Rudy and injure him, resulting in the good ending. In the second game, it's get all the accusations wrong or even get them right without having found the necessary evidence to back up your claims.
- Nasty Party: In the bad ending of the first game Rudy lies that this was the Colonel's plan all along.
- Never One Murder
- Nightmare Fetishist: Olympia Myklos in the second game. Her boyfriend, Wolf Heimlich, shares some of her morbid interests as well.
- Not in Front of the Parrot: In Bequest, the parrot can actually give Laura some information of dialogue it overheard, after some coercion.
- Not Proven: if you fail to find enough evidence, even if you've already figured out who the murderer is. In Amon Ra, even if you identify the killer but fail to convict them, Laura will eventually be murdered in her sleep.
- Obfuscating Disability: Colonel Dijon of The Colonels Bequest was apparently wounded and rendered unable to walk during the Spanish-American War. You can see him stand and/or walk under his own power at two separate points in the game.
- The Ophelia: Lillian in the first game.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: Given the fact that the Colonel stated that his estate will be divided equally among everyone present at the manor when he made the announcement who outlives him (Other than Laura), the obvious explanation as to why virtually everyone in the manor turns up dead over the course of the next few hours is that the killer is someone hoping to increase their share of the pie. It's actually Lillian, who doesn't care about the money, but wants to restore her perceived status as the Colonel's favorite relative by making her his only relative.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse
- Perfect Poison: in the first game, sleeping powder is used, and mixed with Alcohol.
- Plucky Girl: Laura, of course.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: In a minor example, Celie is the only person you can befriend in the first game. She ends up being the sole surviving heir to the Colonel's fortune.
- Punny Name: Steve Dorian, who has a job as a — wait for it — stevedore.
- Railing Kill: Walking against a railing which is crumbling will cause it to break. Laura will then fall over the parapet and die after hitting the ground.
- Red-Headed Hero: Laura
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Lillian
- The Roaring Twenties: Both games are set in the mid-1920s.
- Sanity Slippage: Lillian
- Secret Relationship: All over the place in both games.
- Side Quest: The bag of gems has nothing to do with the mystery, although it does add a bit to the good ending.
- Stage Names: Gloria Swansong is Gloria Dijon in the first game.
- Super Drowning Skills: If Laura takes a mere step into any water, she will drown. She sinks in up to her head even though she's only ten inches from the shore.
- The Swarm: There's three of these in the second game - rats, snakes, and flesh-eating beetles, all of which will kill Laura on contact.
- Ten Little Murder Victims: The premise of both games.
- Triang Relations
- The Unreveal: Your pursuer in Dagger of Amon Ra.
- The Unsolved Mystery: It's easy to go through both games and have no idea what just happened.
- Unwinnable by Design: The second game's chase scenes has a couple of points where Laura needs to get items to help you progress in the game. Miss only one of these items and Laura will pay with her life.
- The Vamp: Fifi in the first game and Yvette Delacroix in the second. Both are French.
- Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: A couple of deaths in the first game.
- Who Dunnit: The first game is discovering who is offing the Colonel's relatives one by one.
- Yet Another Stupid Death: The chandelier only falls on Laura if she walks down the exact center of the first floor hallway. Which is right where the front doors deposit her, causing plenty of accidental deaths when the player forgets to sidestep.