The Colonel's Bequest

Publisher: Sierra
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #66

The Colonel's Bequest

"Way back, in the days before Zzap!..." (- Was there life before Zzap! grandpa? - Well son, not much life as mere existence. - Oh) "Anyway, as I was saying... around 1980 this young snip of a girl wrote a computer game called Mystery House and it marked the beginning of Sierra On-Line."

The young girl was Roberta Williams who, since those dark and dusty days, has had more success than you can waggle a mouse pointer at with games such as the very popular King's Quest series. Now Roberta has gone back to her roots and has written another murder mystery.

A real-time tale of foul deeds and set in the 1920s, Colonel's Bequest is written as a stage play and consists of eight acts. In each, you must witness events vital to the plot before you can advance to the next act.

The Colonel's Bequest

You play the part of Laura Bow on a weekend visit to your friend's uncle's (Colonel Dijon) spooky ol' mansion. That same weekend, the whole family is there to hear the reading of Colonel Henri Dijon's will. The family learns that all who outlive the Colonel will get a share of the old codger's wealth.

But, during the weekend, murder takes place and it's up to you to discover whodunnit, why and with what. At the end of the play you refer to your notes and tke a stab (Get the point?) at who you think the murderer is.

The curtain opens with you in the guest room. A quick sniff around and you discover Ethel Prune (your friend's mother) who appears to be permanently squiffy.

The Colonel's Bequest

The bathroom is not far away and Lilian (your friend) is in there carrying out her ablutions. When she leaves, you may also freshen up should you so desire, but don't take a shower unless you want to watch yourself being murdered, Psycho-style.

Colonel's Bequest is one of those adventures where things happen and situations change as play progresses. People - most of whom don't appear to particularly like your snooping activities - move around and may leave clues in places where before you could find nothing. So retracting your steps and re-examining objects is a must!

Not only do you have the mansion and all its secrets to explore but also the extensive grounds. The mansion is built on a little island in the middle of the Bayou and, as the swamp is the only way out and is no place for young women, you're stuck there until you solve the murders.

The Colonel's Bequest

It seems that every time I review a Sierra game, the problem of excessive disk access comes up. I did think I might be able to write about one of their 3D adventures without mentioning it... but I can't. Every time you change location in Bequest you have to wait for the disk to access. And it takes an age! Why can't they cut the disk access down? Dephine Software (Future Wars and Stealth Project) have done so and their location graphics, animation and so on are at least as good as Sierra's. I think people may eventually lose patience with this company's games. They could - in fact, with competition such as Delphine, I think they *must* - do better.

But what of the game itself? Well, there are a few annoying idiosyncrasies such as being told there's a handle sticking out of the pianola and even being able to turn it but when I tried to take the handle (to use on the fountain in the garden) I was told it wasn't here. This obviously means that I'm supposed to get a handle - but not this one. The response should have been better.

However, there's plenty to see and do and it should keep budding sleuths at their computers for hours, if only while they wait for location to load. Oooooh no, don't mock!

Music and FX are good and the desire to find out what's going on in the spooky ol' mansion is very strong.