The Colonel’s Bequest is an old school graphical murder mystery adventure game made by Sierra in 1989. It features the budding sleuth and Tulane University student Laura Bow. She is invited by her flapper friend, Lillian, to spend a weekend at the decaying sugar plantation of Colonel Dijon. The reclusive and childless Colonel has gathered his quarrelsome relatives for a reading of his will. Tensions explode and the bickering leads to murder. You play Laura and try to solve the mystery as the body count goes up and up.
It is notoriously difficult the first few times you play because it uses a pseudo-realtime clock that advances whether you are ready or not. It’s tremendously easy to miss important details and key character interactions. The first time I played it, I barely knew what the heck was going on. It’s the sort of game that requires a lot of experimenting and replays to catch everything you need.
OneShortEye does a great job revealing some of the more esoteric things that happen in the game, secrets, bugs, as well as finds some interesting industry folks to talk about the game. He covers odds of certain events as well as issues created by emulators and the fact early cracks for the game broke the random number generator which caused the game to act incorrectly.
In revealing secrets – he looks at code and unpacked game resources. He uses information from The Sierra Chest. This site is a tremendous resource of archival and historical information about the creation of The Colonel’s Bequest – including original design documents. It also has information on other Sierra games. Definitely worth checking out.
I personally love this genre of murder mystery game and wish we had more games like this. The game itself sells itself as a murder mystery play in several acts. I think the industry has made many (even recent) attempts at murder mystery games over time, but I don’t think we’ve really figured out good mystery mechanisms that aren’t too difficult, esoteric, or capture links/events in a way that are fun. It’s an area I hope developers and designers keep exploring.
If you’d like to watch a full walkthrough of the game with many of these secrets shown and full score, I recommend Dilandau3000‘s walkthroughs. He does an excellent job – and his channel is full of great playthroughs of older classic games.