Released in 1985, Quest of the Avatar is the fourth game in Richard Garriott’s Ultima series. Ultima is one of the oldest RPG series in video game history, with its first entry dating back to 1981. Consequently, it’s also one the most influential. Indeed, many games owe their existence to this series. A spinoff of Ultima, titled Ultima Underworld, was one of the first action RPGs played from a true first-person perspective. Not only did it serve as the primary inspiration for Arena, the first installment of Bethesda’s popular Elder Scrolls series, it is also indirectly responsible for the creation of BioShock: Infinite. Many of the same people who helped develop Ultima Underworld would go on to create System Shock, which is considered the spiritual predecessor to BioShock. In relation to its own series, Quest of the Avatar marked a turning point, shifting the gameplay from a simple hack-and-slash dungeon crawler to a more ethically-driven experience that takes the player on a spiritual journey.
Jim Walls was a member of the California Highway Patrol. Unfortunately, his fifteen year career came to an end in 1986 when a shooting incident left him traumatized. During his recovery, Walls met Ken Williams, one of the co-founders of Sierra On-Line. Williams had the idea for an adventure game set in present day with a police officer protagonist and all he needed at that point was the help of a real one in order to make the experience as authentic as possible. With help from Mr. Williams, the police-officer-turned-game-designer created a game called Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel in 1987. Sierra was known for diversifying their adventure game settings, with some games taking place in a fantasy land while others being set in outer space. Though it wasn’t the only Sierra series that featured a modern-day setting, the original Police Quest was an innovative game in that it depicted realistic scenarios in a time when the medium was still largely in its infancy.
The Colonel’s Bequest is an adventure game originally released in 1989 for MS-DOS. It was made by Sierra co-founder Roberta Williams, who is most famous for being the creator of the King’s Quest series. Nine years prior, she created a game for Apple II computers named Mystery House. Both games drew inspiration from Agatha Christie’s novel, And Then There Were None, in that they feature the protagonist being introduced to a cast of characters who, one-by-one, end up murdered. Though practically unplayable by today’s standards, Mystery House has its rightful place in history for being the first adventure game to feature graphics. This fact coupled with the King’s Quest series experiencing much more commercial success have made The Colonel’s Bequest something of a forgotten game in Sierra’s lineup.