Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel

In the late 1980s Sierra On-Line were releasing adventure games at a prolific rate. Featuring their Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine, released in 1984, the majority of their adventure games focused on fantasy and science fiction settings. Police Quest however was a genuine attempt at something different.

The idea had come about after a meeting between Sierra developer Ken Williams and former police officer Jim Walls. Williams had been planning a series of police genre adventure games and approached Walls because he felt that in order to design such a game the input of a genuine police officer would be necessary; in order give the series a realistic feel.[1]

Walls’ input certainly produced a different type of adventure game although it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that the amount of “adventure” for the lead character, Sonny Bonds, was somewhat limited. This wasn’t a computer-gaming equivalent of a 1980s TV cop show, there were no “do you feel lucky punk?” moments (at least if you didn’t want the game to end on a very sudden note). Instead what Sierra got was very much a police procedural simulation where everything was done by the book.

Indeed the game came with a literal book. Included was the Police Quest guidebook which contained detailed information on uniform requirements, driving procedure, a comprehensive list of violation codes (needed when checking prisoners in) and more, all of which would be needed in-game, just as they were in real life. A PC Magazine review at the time noted that you would only achieve a high score by following the guidebook to the letter[2] and they weren’t wrong. Take a shower before your shift, check your car, work out the multitude of minor infractions committed by the perp you were booking in at the local jail, and certainly don’t get any ideas about firing your gun.

Police Quest. Source: Sierra On-Line Police Quest Enhanced. Source: Sierra On-Line

Regardless the games proved popular, Jim Walls and Sierra would work together on another two sequels and there would be a fourth game in the series without Walls. In 1992 the original game would re-released as an enhanced version, graphically updated and given a standard point-and-click interface to replace the now retired AGI engine (something which Sierra would do with the first game of several of their successful series) but Sonny Bonds still never got to fire his gun.

A full playthrough Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (Enhanced) will appear in future posts.


  • Giant Bomb (2013) The James Wall Wiki. [Online] Available from: Giant Bomb [Accessed 25 November 2017]
  • PC Magazine (29th March 1988) Be Careful Out There: Police Quest Plays It By The Book. [Online] Available from: Google Books [Accessed 25 November 2017]
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