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During the eighties and early nineties, the world of Adventure Games belonged to Sierra. Games series like King's Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, and Quest for Glory, established the company's love of quests, and in 1989 there was The Colonel's Bequest, following in the same naming format of putting the word "quest" somewhere in the title of each game. The game was created by Roberta Williams of King's Quest fame, and borrowed elements from Williams' Mystery House, created in 1980 and known as one of the first graphical adventures.

The Colonel's Bequest used a traditional text parser and 16 color graphics, much like Sierra's other games of the time. The plot, which took place in 1925, involved protagonist Laura Bow, a graduate of Tulane University, being invited by her friend Lillian to her uncle's New Orleans plantation home, where relatives and employees have gathered for the reading of the old Colonel's will. Secrets and deceptions abound as the guests quickly start to disappear, and it is up to Laura to find out what is going on and solve the mystery before it is too late. Turns out she can't: almost everybody will die regardless of what you do, and none of the secrets and deceptions are at all related to the murderer.

Unlike most of Sierra's adventures, the game stood out in that it focused on gathering information and evidence by asking questions or overhearing conversations rather than the typical formula of putting two items together to achieve a goal, although there were a few item-based puzzles to solve that would help Laura obtain additional clues. The player was required to figure out for themselves what was going on by piecing together parts of the story. In the end of the game, you find two fighting people and get to shoot either of them, and will receive a "good" ending or a "bad" ending depending on which you pick. There were also many clues that did not have to be uncovered in order to win the game, increasing replayability and challenging the player to become an amateur sleuth.

Another thing that made the game notable was that it ran on a time system that would change when Laura triggered an event every fifteen minutes, the entire game taking place over the course of one night. Because the game didn't tell you outright what you were supposed to do with the information you collected, it is difficult to know just what is going on on the first playthrough, and easy to miss important events if you triggered the next event too soon. Characters would make plans to meet in various places at certain times and could be followed or spied upon.

The second and last in the series, The Dagger of Amon Ra (1992), used 8 bit colors and a point-and-click interface. It takes place a year after the first game, in New York, where Laura, now a newspaper reporter, is charged to write a story about the dissapearance of an antique dagger from a local museum. Attending a benefit at the museum, she meets the various suspects, who quickly begin to die off one by one. This game had a similar time system but involved more straight-forward, item-based puzzles than the previous game. Like its predecessor, it also required the player to make their own conclusions in order to solve the murders. The identity of the murderer is not revealed at the end of the game, and instead the player is asked a series of questions in order to determine who the culprit is based on evidence collected.

Tropes used in The Colonel's Bequest include: