Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel

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Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel
Police Quest 1 cover.png
Cover art for the 1987 version
Developer(s)Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s)Sierra On-Line
Designer(s)Jim Walls
Writer(s)Jim Walls
Composer(s)Margaret Lowe
SeriesPolice Quest
EngineAGI / SCI1.1 (Remake)
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Macintosh
Release1987 AGI 1992 SCI
Genre(s)Adventure, simulation

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (also known simply as Police Quest) is an adventure game (and police simulation) produced by Jim Walls for Sierra On-Line, and originally released in 1987 built on their AGI. It was remade in 1992 using 256-color VGA graphics and the SCI engine, which dramatically improved the appearance and audio of the game, and replaced the command line interface with point and click.

It is the first game in the Police Quest series and spawned two direct sequels, Police Quest II: The Vengeance and Police Quest III: The Kindred, as well as Police Quest: Open Season, Police Quest: SWAT, Police Quest: SWAT 2, SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle and SWAT 4.


Police Quest: In Pursuit of The Death Angel, is an adventure game whose gameplay is centered on interacting with the environment to resolve a series of scenarios. These largely revolve around typical police work, such as securing crime scenes and recovering stolen vehicles, plus some important duty procedures. The original release of the game required the player to type in the desired actions, such as opening doors, pressing buttons or firing one's gun, while the remake allows the player to use the mouse to select actions from a menu and objects in the environment.

The lack of "traditional" puzzles made the game stand out at the time of release, although it also resulted in some criticism of the dry police work. Unlike many games of this genre, the style of play depends largely on a strict adherence to standard police rules and procedure.[1] Failure to abide to proper procedure typically leads to the player being penalized on points, or having his character killed. For instance, if Sonny neglects to store his side arm in a gun locker before entering the jail to book a prisoner, the prisoner will take the gun from him the moment his handcuffs are removed and shoot him with it, ending the game.


Setting and characters[edit]

Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is set in the fictional town of Lytton, California. The player character is Sonny Bonds, an officer with the Lytton Police Department. The exact date it takes place is unclear, though dates mentioned in the game range between 1983 and 1986; it includes references to 1983 (Sonny arrests Jason Taselli on 9/7/83), 1985 (mentioned in an FBI warrant number, and the year-make of a motorcycle), and 1986 (a gun was stolen by Jason Taselli on 12/4/86 in Chicago). In Police Quest 2, the events of the first game took place between 1983 and 1987. Police Quest 2 includes conflicting dates for events of the first game (for example according to information in the game, Jessie Bains arrest/conviction is listed as both 1983 and 1987, and the arrest/death of Jason Taselli is listed in 1983 and 1987 as well). According to Police Quest 3 (set during 1991), the events of the first game (or at least Jessie Bains arrest) occurred in 1987. Police Quest 1 is stated as taking place in 1992 in the remade version of the game, despite Police Quest 3 being set in 1991. The exact dates vary between each game.


Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel casts the player as Sonny Bonds, a police officer assigned to traffic duty in the fictional town of Lytton, California. His supervising officer, Sergeant Dooley, reveals in the morning briefing that the local teenagers are getting out of hand and are using cocaine, as well as a report of a stolen 1983 black Cadillac (Mercedes-Benz in the remake) which Bonds and his fellow officers are ordered to keep a lookout for.

During his regular patrol, Bonds is sent to investigate a car crash. Upon investigation of the accident, Bonds discovers that the deceased driver of the vehicle (a drug dealer named Lonny West) has been shot in the head. After Sergeant Dooley arrives on the scene and takes control of the investigation, Bonds returns to his regular patrol. After a coffee break with fellow officer Steve, Bonds goes back on duty and gives a speeding ticket to a beautiful woman named Helen Hots (In the remake her name is changed to Tawnee), handles some bikers who are troubling a local eating establishment, and arrests a drunk driver. The shift finishes and Bonds visits "The Blue Room", a local hangout for off-duty police officers, where he talks with his friend Jack Cobb about his daughter Kathy's drug problem.

After returning to duty, Bonds locates the stolen Mercedes and pulls it over. With the help of Officer Jack, Bonds arrests the driver, Jason Taselli, and identifies the car as the stolen vehicle with a new light blue paint job. Further investigations reveal drugs which help to link Taselli with the murder of Lonny West. Partly due to his work on the case, Bonds is promoted to Acting Detective with the Narcotics division. Further investigations reveal the name of the drug lord to be Jessie Bains, "The Death Angel", and that he is also involved in an illegal gambling operation at the Hotel Delphoria. After learning about Kathy's death, the department vows to bring Bains to justice.

Going undercover, Bonds infiltrates the gambling ring at the Hotel Delphoria with the help of stripper and his high-school crush Marie Wilkins, and is taken to a card game with Jessie Bains. Gaining Bains' trust, Bonds is taken to Bains hotel room where Bonds calls in his backup. Jesse discovers Sonny's true identity but before he can kill him, the backup arrives and subdues Bains.[2] Subsequently, Bains is arrested, tried, convicted on multiple counts for a 97-year prison sentence.


The game is the most realistic of those developed by Sierra in the late eighties (when compared to Leisure Suit Larry, King's Quest, or Space Quest), and featured many puzzles where proper police procedure is required to succeed. It was released for the IBM PC, Apple II (128K), Amiga, Atari ST, and Apple IIGS. A SCI 1.1 enhanced version in 256 color VGA was released in 1992.


The first four Police Quest games totaled 850,000 sales by late 1995. However, Markus Krichel of PC Games noted that "interest on the part of the gamer fell slightly" with Police Quest: Open Season, which led Sierra On-Line to experiment with a new direction for the series with Police Quest: SWAT.[3] According to Sierra, combined sales of the Police Quest series—including SWAT—surpassed 1.2 million units by the end of March 1996.[4]

Computer Gaming World recommended Police Quest, praising some of the graphics as "the most terrific this reviewer has ever seen".[5] Antic said of the ST version that because of the realism and need to follow procedures "there is a strong sense of actually becoming the cop on the beat".[6] Macworld was less positive, stating that the game "plays like a long version of a routine cop TV show, and you can't lose if you just follow the manual. The game begs for a challenging mystery".[7]

Police Quest I was reported to have been used as a training tool for police officers:

[Police Quest] has proven to be a practical, effective training tool officers enjoy using. It safely demonstrates to rookies the consequences of failing to observe proper police procedures and can serve as a valuable refresher course for experienced officers.

— Rich DeBaun, InterAction, Winter 1992[8]


  1. ^ Rubenking, Neil (March 29, 1988). "Be Careful Out There: Police Quest Plays It By The Book". PC Mag. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  2. ^ "Adventure Classic Gaming". Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  3. ^ Krichel, Markus (November 1995). "Spezialeinheit". PC Games: 40, 41.
  4. ^ Sierra On-Line Form 10-K (Report). Bellevue, Washington. March 31, 1996. pp. 7–9. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018.
  5. ^ Chaut, Michael S. (April 1988). "Dusting the Death Angel". Computer Gaming World. p. 22.
  6. ^ Teverbaugh, Rick (July 1988). "ST Games Gallery: Hunt For Red October, Arctic Fox, Oids, Police Quest, Space Quest II, Slaygon, Beyond Zork". Antic. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  7. ^ McCandless, Keith (March 1989). "Animated Adventure Games". Macworld. p. 183. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  8. ^ DeBaun, Rich (Winter 1992). "Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel". InterAction. Vol. 5, no. 4. Sierra On-Line. p. 35.

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