Oh Sierra, you say, an adventure. Well hold it right there Mr (or Ms) Cocky Know-all. This is not an adventure, it is an interactive story. It is a play in eight acts. It is an animated version of Cluedo cunningly disguised as a remake of The Cat and the Canary, but this time without Bob Hope.
You play Laura Bow, a sweet southern belle with a penchant for snooping around places and saying things like "Tell the Colonel about Polly" or "Ask Ethel Prune about Fifi". Wadda gat.
As a change from studying journalism at University you decide to take a trip with your bosom buddy Lilian Prune to visit lil's darling uncle Colonel Henri Dijon. (Get it? Dijon... Mustard!). The old duffer read his will and upsets everybody in sight. Once the will has been read, boredom sets in and you decide to explore the house and grounds.
There is a mess of exploration to be done, so off you set around the mansion. To stroll around you could try using your mouse to move the animated character. Personally, I found that using the cursor keys to more Laura was far more effective than boshing her into walls and tripping down stairs by the way of the mouse.
Along the way you overhear dodgy conversations, attempt to communicate with Polly the parrot and pat Beauregard the dog on the head. You also get to change five disks and tear your hair out as, yet again, nothing happens. This is what it must be like for a real-life 20-year-old journalism student in a spooky mansion out on the bayou.
In order to gain information you use the right-hand mouse button, click on objects or people and read the description. This can throw up some interesting snippets or merely tell you that "There are many interesting artefacts in the room". The parsing here is not what you would normally expect from a Sierra game; it slips up irritatingly on occasions with only a very few standby phrases when you wander outside the game's vocabulary.
Without doubt there is plenty to be seen and loads of notes to take. You really do need to keep your stubbyu old reporter's crayon to hand at all times as you never know when you are going to walk into a room and find yourself ear-wigging a juicy conversation. In fact, walking into rooms uninvited produces more of interest than searching or looking. Keep your eyes on the good-looking fella with the bad attitude.
Pure bloody mindedness after the first few fruitless plays should keep the avid adventurer coming back to crack the game and find something of interest. Names such as Dr Wilbur C Feels, Gloria Swansong and Jeeves the butler do give the whole thing a rather tacky feel but forget it and keep plugging away. Probably the most useful piece of kit to have with you while playing the game is a younger sibling who can be bribed with a Cadbury's Cream Egg to change disks while you nip off to the loo.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Sound? Well, yes, there is some. A nice ticking clock and a pleasant 'Bong, Bong, Bong' of the timing clock which appears every so often. A few doors creak, when you go outside there is birdsong. Generally, it is run of the mill. Graphically, it is no treat either. Obviously a PC port over, the colours make the word garish seem pallid and the word pallid seem insipid. All those moans noted, the backgrounds are atmospheric, the details are well worked and the parrot swings with great elan.
If you enjoy Cluedo and do not mind a few hours in which three things (zip, nada and zero) happen, The Colonel's Bequest could be for you.
An immense amount of thought has obviously gone into the game and it does have a kind of frustrating charm about it. Unfortunately this cannot save it from being plain dull. Laura Bow refuses to look into bags, shelves, closets or people because they do not belong to her or contain nothing of interest. How can a game tell you what is of interest to you? Generally, it is "Oh what a nice present, auntie Mick" rather than a "Look what I just bought, cousin Neil" kind of game.