The Colonel's Bequest (aka Laura Bow I: The Colonel's Bequest[1] or The Colonel's Bequest: a Laura Bow Mystery) is a computer game published by Sierra On-Line in 1989. This graphic adventure game was the first of the short-lived 'Laura Bow Mystery' series created by Roberta Williams and used many elements from the original Mystery House. It was created with SCI0. It uses 4-bit color (16 colors) and a typing interface. A sequel, The Dagger of Amon Ra, was released in 1992.



The Colonel's Bequest is set in the 1920s, which gives the game a unique, Art Deco style.

The game's main character is Laura Bow, a Tulane University student, daughter of a detective and wannabe journalist. Laura is invited by her flapper friend Lillian to spend a weekend at the decaying sugar plantation of Colonel Dijon. When the reclusive, childless Colonel gathers his quarrelsome relatives for a reading of his will, tensions explode and the bickering leads to murder.

Throughout the game, Laura remains stranded on the island surrounded by suspects and potential victims in a classical Agatha Christie manner. Laura's task is to learn the family secrets, and, ultimately, who the murderer is. There is also an optional, secondary backplot concerning a hidden treasure.

The storyline advances by a quarter-hour when new plot elements are witnessed. Sometimes a quarter-hour can advance in a few real-time seconds, if Laura happens to be in the proper place. Therefore, people and objects sometimes seem to "teleport" to new locations, making some parts of the game feel unrealistic.

This is one of the few Sierra games which is more character-driven than puzzle-driven. Although solving puzzles is crucial for obtaining a high score, discovering information about the characters' backgrounds and their relationships with each other is more important to the game. In fact, it is possible to get to the end of the game without solving any puzzles. It is also possible to complete the game without discovering many important details about the characters - or even being certain of the identity of the murderer. This gives the game a high replayability value.

For its time, the game shows remarkable sophistication. Characters make plans to be in certain places at certain times and may be followed. Characters may get annoyed with Laura if they catch her snooping on them or asking too many questions, although this is obvious only in dialogue, and the plot is not affected.


As with classic murder stories, the plot revolves around characters, most of which are potential victims (and murderers). Most of the game characters are named after prominent figures of the time, such as Rudolph Valentino, W. C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow, and Clarence Darrow. Most are heavily based on well-used archetypes.

Game Titles Edit

This game has a number of titles on various boxes (includinggame collections), manuals and marketing.

  • The Colonel's Bequest
  • Laura Bow I: The Colonel's Bequest[2][3]
  • The Colonel's Bequest: a Laura Bow Mystery
  • The Colonel's Bequest: A Laura Bow Murder Mystery[4]

Cast of CharactersEdit

Laura Bow- Laura is a 20-year old journalism major at Tulane University in New Orleans. A 1920s ingenue, she's studious and down-to-earth, energetic and courageous. She's known for her inquisitive nature, probably acquired for her father, a detective on the New Orleans Police force.

Ethel Prune- Lillian's mother and the Colonel's younger sister, Ethel is known for her whimpery, whiny nature. You can usually catch her in a rather tipsy state, and she gives the impression of being quite helpless.

Colonel Henri Dijon- Henri Dijon is a gruff old southern-style colonel. He's wealthy, eccentric, and reclusive. He lives alone except for his servants Jeeves, Celie, and Fifi, and his pets. He was wounded while serving with distinction in the Spanish-American war.

Gertrude Dijon- Gertie is the widow of the Colonel's younger brother. She's known as money-grubbing, snobbish, and bossy. She has a fondness for jewelry...especially pearls.

Lillian Prune- Lillian is Laura's college classmate and the Colonel's niece. Her personality can be described as extroverted and rebellious. She drinks, smokes, and dates several young men. She dresses in the style of the 1920s flapper.

Gloria Swansong- Gertie's daughter and the Colonel's niece. Gloria enjoys the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. She's a beautiful platinum blonde, and loves money, jewelry and rich boyfriends.

Rudolph Dijon- Rudy is Gertrude's son, Gloria's brother and the Colonel's nephew. He gives the impression of being a little too slick. Rudy is known as a gambler, a womanizer, and a lush. The say he's never worked an honest day in his life.

Jeeves- Jeeves is the Colonel's tall, silent butler. Very imposing and solemn, he's not terribly friendly or helpful. What is he really after?

Clarence Sparrow- Clarence is the Colonel's attorney. He manages all of the Colonel's business affairs and accounts. He seems rather sneaky, and it is said that he lusts after the Colonel's money.

Fifi- Fifi is the Colonel's sexy French maid. It is rumored that she and the Colonel are involved in a relationship of a somewhat more than domestic nature. Most of the family are of the opinion that Fifi is using the Colonel to get at his money.

Dr. Wilbur C. Feels- Dr. Feels is the Colonel's longtime personal physician. He is known for his lecherous ways, and his questionable medical practices.

Celie- Celie is the Colonel's cook. She is quite superstitious and somewhat reserved, but she can be friendly and helpful if approached cautiously. It is said that she dabbles in voodoo.

Beauregard- Beauregard is the Colonel's dog. A lazy old bloodhound, he can be observed lying near his doghouse most of the time.

Blaze- Blaze is the Colonel's old horse. Like the Colonel, he's a veteran of the Spanish-American war, but now rarely leaves the comfort of his stable.

Polly- The Colonel's parrot sits on his perch in the parlor. He talks when he's in the mood, or when properly motivated.


Although death lurks around every corner Laura Bow is almost never endangered by the mysterious villain because she is unrelated to the Dijon family. In typical Sierra adventure game fashion, most, but by no means all, deaths experienced by the player occur by accident or misadventure, such as falling off a balcony, being crushed by a falling chandelier, tripping down a dark staircase, or being attacked by alligators. The player may however, be killed by the murderer in the later phases of the game. In two cases, the murderer's arm reaches out at specific locations and snatches Laura away. In another case, the murderer appears in the darkness and strangles Laura to her death. One of the more notable non-accidental deaths occurs when the player simply attempts to shower; the murderer stabs Laura in a reference to the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.

The unusual title is due to Sierra's long-standing tradition at the time of including "Quest" in the title of nearly every graphical adventure they published. (A bequest is a legacy or gift handed down to someone in a will.) Other "quest" games include King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Quest for Glory (which was originally titled Hero's Quest), and the Conquests series. This tradition was disregarded for non-adventure games (e.g., Mixed-up Mother Goose) and was eventually abandoned.Template:Fact

Reception Edit

Upon release, the game sold moderately well. Critics claimed the game was interesting, had a large amount of effort in production and story. However, it was criticized as being slow paced, disjointed and tedious as the player must visit several places repeatedly in order for an event to occur or not occur.[5]

References Edit

  1. King's Quest Collection Series manual index
  2. Roberta Williams Anthology manual
  3. KQ Collection Series 2 manual
  4. Roberta William's Anthology Box
  5. [1] - 1990 reviews for the Amiga version at Amiga Reviews.