Retro Sample Week: Police Quest

(This is part of my a special week in which I sampled several smaller or more niche retro games from my GOG library. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

When it comes to the lineup of classic Sierra adventure game franchises, the Police Quest series sticks out like a sore thumb. Unlike the other games bearing the “Quest” moniker, 1987’s Police Quest wasn’t some sort of jovial satire or rollicking romp, but an adventure game that attempted to mimic police procedures as closely as possible. For some this was fun, I suppose. I only lightly dipped into it years ago, and since I have no interest in doing a full play-through, I thought it’d be perfect for this week’s sample approach.

Police Quest on GOG comes in both EGA and VGA varieties, so I’m not going to torture myself with looking at worse graphics than I have to.

After a short intro in which the game informs me that this small California town has been developing “big city” problems, I’m dumped into a police station as Officer Sonny Bonds. I kind of wish I had been given some direction here, as I’m standing out in the hallway like a clueless doofus. Probably shouldn’t take my gun out and start plugging away at the water cooler.

Yeah… every time. Thank you, game designers.

Just in case you were hoping that a game called “Police Quest” was going to start you out with some sort of nailbiting teaser, let me disillusion you. You are just trying to get going with your work day by walking through the paces of an extremely linear path. If you deviate, game over. If you forget little things, it’ll be game over later on. Lots of trial and error.

Also, showering. Yes, you have to shower, get dressed, and read the newspaper, because this is how bored we were in the 90s.

The newspaper in the briefing room does have some important exposition about the crime problem in this city. It’s being led by a drug lord named the Death Angel, and if the subtitle of this game is any indication, I’m going to pursue the crap out of him.

I’m not a very good cop. Instead of going to the briefing, I wander into my boss’ office and start poking at things until he shrieks at me to get out. He’s a total slob, by the way.

After walking around my car to inspect it — which is seriously, an actual thing you have to do before driving in this game — I try to make sense of this driving interface. It’s cluttered but not that hard to navigate — except that your omnipresent GPS map lacks the names of streets. That would’ve been useful.

Anyway, I ignore a stop sign and get sideswiped by another car. I die. That is a sad end to my glorious career as an up-and-coming detective. Oh well!

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3 thoughts on “Retro Sample Week: Police Quest

  1. Isey March 29, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    I remember playing this game at a friend’s house when it first launched and how it really got me into the point and click adventure gaming =) Nice nostalgia!

  2. baldwinp March 30, 2017 / 8:09 am

    This is the Sierra game I played the most as a kid. Glad you remembered to walk around your vehicle before driving. My favorite part was racing around the streets at the fastest speed to see if I could stop before crashing into things. Also, you shouldn’t have to worry about the stop signs if you have your lights/siren activated. …Probably a good thing I didn’t become a cop.

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