It's a dark and stormy night in the spring of 1926. As Laura Bow, college student and amateur detective, you are looking forward to spending the night in your roommate Lillian's old family mansion. A ferry transports you across a dismal swamp and deposits you on the grounds of the dreary and run-down Dijon plantation. There, the rich and eccentric old Colonel Dijon, who feels his end is coming near, has organized a gathering of friends and relatives. He announces that, when he dies, his wealth will be divided equally among those present. Should anybody die before he does, then his share will be divided among the surviving inheriting people. Shortly later in the evening the murders begin.
Who is killing the relatives and associates of the colonel, one by one? Is it the sneaky lawyer, who has a racehorse scam on his conscience and can't tolerate the colonel's niece from separating with him? Is it the doctor, who owns a bag with deadly injections and pills? Or did the quiet, yet imposing butler do it? Whoever is responsible, they aren't likely to take kindly to a would-be private eye snooping around, so you'd better be careful as you discover facts (and falsehoods) about your fellow guests and their relationship to the old man who's money will be inherited by whoever survives him. Use secret passages to overhear private conversations, look out for suspicious items which may change from location, search for finger prints and other clues to find out the truth behind the killings. Observe, be fast and careful, because you could be the next victim.
Roberta Williams, who designed Sierra's first game, Mystery House in 1980, felt it was time to write another murder mystery which lived up to the computer capabilities of the late eighties. Mystery House, which was put on public domain in 1988, was the first computer game ever with graphics, but it lacked colors, animation and sound. The Colonel's Bequest was developed, using EGA graphics, Sierra's SCI engine, sound and a music score, as well as featuring a deeper plot and more detailed character descriptions.
The game has a sequel, The Dagger of Amon Ra, which is also the last Laura Bow game. Both games are also included in the 1997 King's Quest Collection and the Roberta Williams Anthology. Although the original release of The Colonel's Bequest can still relatively easily be found on online auctions, a complete original game is considered as a true collector's item, as it contains many goodies which are often missing from second-hand sales, particularly the Laura Bow pen and notebook. The games copyright protection is also quite original: the gamer needs to use a magnifying glass (included in the box) to identify a fingerprint on the game screen.
Collections and compilations
The Colonel's Bequest: a Laura Bow Mystery is also included in the following compilations: