The Colonel's Bequest is a computer game published by Sierra On-Line in 1989. This graphic adventure game was the first of the short-lived 'Laura Bow Mysteries' 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 1925, and the game employs a distinctive, Art Deco style.
The game's main character is Laura Bow, a Tulane University student, daughter of a detective and aspiring 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.
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.