30 years later, Sierra’s Laura Bow mysteries are still a treasure

When I was in college and grad school, a couple of times of year I would stay with my sister in her apartment for a long weekend, and we would splurge on junk food (often Keebler Fudge Sticks) and video games (often the latest Sierra point-and-click adventure). I remember playing The Colonel’s Bequest in my senior year in college, and The Dagger of Amon Ra while I was in Toronto getting my Ph.D. When I got stuck in a puzzle, I actually typed out and snail-mailed a letter to Sierra Online asking for help, and about two weeks later I got a reply. (I needed to pick up a piece of cheese and click in a tunnel to lure rats away from my character’s escape route. Silly me for not figuring that one out myself.)

Here’s a good retrospective on the Laura Bow point-and-click adventure games — which turned 30 last year.

Laura Bow has never been as famous as King’s Quest, but these two games were genuinely groundbreaking. The Dagger of Amon Ra particularly brought new layers of complexity to adventure game storytelling, with intricate subplots and tantalizing unreliable information that fueled imaginative theories.

With her charming Southern drawl and red curls, Laura—a tribute to silent film star Clara Bow—is often underestimated by other characters for her youth and gender. The Colonel’s Bequest was tense, dark, and moody, a welcome change from Leisure Suit Larry and the early Space Quests which targeted men and were vehicles for lowbrow (and literal toilet) humor. Laura, decked out in demure stockings and a sensible pocketbook, was a far cry from the typical Sierra adventure protagonist. –Alexis Ong, PC Gamer