Police Quest: Open Season (PC)
Game Name: Police Quest: Open Season
Developer: Sierra On-Line
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Release Date: November 1993
Platform: Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh and System 7
I had played the first 2 instalments in the series. I skipped Police Quest 3 as I never really played it. However, Police Quest: Open Season was the last game of the series that I ever completed back in the day.
I remember this game being extremely challenging. Let us see it is just as challenging now.
Unlike the first 3 games in the series, you do not play as Sonny Bonds but as homicide detective, Detective John Carey from the LAPD. The game takes place out of Los Angeles, California. Previous instalments took place in the made up small town of Lytton.
The main story is very simple. The game opens with your best friend and ex-partner on the force Bob Hickman, murdered in an alley. In addition, you find the body of a small child in a dumpster.
The objective is to follow the clues and catch the culprit. In terms of the story itself it is not much different from the other games in the series.
The graphics for this game are very different from previous games. The characters that you play look more realistic compared to the older iterations. Sierra was starting to attempt realism at the time with their graphics.
The game is only point and click based. You do not need to type any commands on the screen to action something. When I played this for the first time, I was in disbelief how realistic the game looked. The fact that you pointed and clicked to move the player was awesome and it added a sense of realism.
You have different actions that you can take based on the command bar that appears at the bottom of the screen.
At the bottom you have options that are available to you.
Stick Figure: This allows you to point and click to walk anywhere on the screen.
Eye: This allows you to view anything in the area that you are in. if you point at a wall, it will tell you what you see on that wall and so on.
Pointed Finger: This allows you to interact with things on the screen.
Speech Bubble: This will allow you to speak to other NPC's in the game.
Inventory: This allows you to use that item that is at the screen at one time. You can use it to interact with other players as well.
Pouch: This opens up your inventory menu.
Map: This allows you to travel to various predetermined destinations in the Los Angeles area.
Notches: I do not know what that is exactly but this will allow you to open the main menu to save and load your games.
Question Mark: if you do not know what something does on the menu, you can click on this and a text box will appear with instructions as to how to use that particular function.
This is the gameplay. The rest of the game you are using your detective senses to find the killer of the child and ex-partner.
Police Quest: Open Season gameplay (courtesy World of Longplays)
I must say that Police Quest: Open Season is very challenging even when using the hint book. The best way that I can put it is, it is a linear game that wants to be open world. Let me explain.
You can do things in a certain order but the game does not always tell you. Often you think that you are moving in the right direction and then progress stops because you forgot to do something. Yes, I know this was a thing in Police Quest I and II as well, but it seems even worse here.
I had to stop playing as I got stuck at a certain point. I was supposed to go back to Hickman's wife's house to speak to his wife a second time. Every time that I go, she is never home. This means that I forgot to do something before. However, what is that thing? Your guess is as good as mine. I do not know how far back that I need to go before I do what is needed to be done.
Even after using the hints I cannot move forward. This is what breaks the game for me. There is no clear direction as to what order you must do things or what the player missed. It could be something as simple as not reading a memo on a computer or forgetting to pick up a cigarette butt in a scene. I understand that there needs to be attention to detail, but as a player and NOT a cop, hints would be useful from within the game.
On another note, I must praise the graphics for this game. They do look dated, but for a game from 1993, this still looks awesome. For me the graphics still hold up.
One aspect that shows its age is the voice acting. We are spoiled in today's games as we have real actors doing voices for games. Back then, voices were done by the people on staff at Sierra. Not all of them are that great. Having said that, back then this was amazing. It felt like I was having a conversation with another human. For me it was a pre-curser to dialogue trees in today's newer open world games.
In the end, I cannot recommend this game as it can be too difficult to finish even for seasoned players. If a game is too difficult, it removes all the fun. This is probably what most people remember from this series. It is at times, almost impossible. I am not sure how anyone can play Open Season without cheating.
Have you ever played this game? How did you like it? What do you think?