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Police Quest: Open Season is the fourth installment in the Police Quest series. It abandons the story arc of the previous three games, introducing a new setting and a new protagonist, homicide detective John Carey of the Los Angeles Police Department. Carey finds his best friend and ex-partner, Officer Bob Hickman, murdered in an alley in the Southern part of the city. An eight-year-old boy named Bobby Washington has been murdered as well. Carey begins an investigation that leads him deep into the criminal life of the city and a hunt for a maniacal murderer.

The game utilizes Sierra's traditional icon-based interface for interaction with the environment and generally follows an adventure format. However, it focuses on realistic police procedures even more than the previous games in the series. Much of the gameplay is dedicated to examining crime scenes, questioning suspects, and conducting a by-the-book investigation. There is a considerable degree of freedom in the interaction, allowing the player to perform actions not connected to the main story, some of which will, however, lead to the protagonist's death. The game utilizes digitized photorealistic images for its visuals.


Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season DOS Interrogating a 9 yr old suspect.
Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season DOS LA map from the floppy version
Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season DOS Just say no!
Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season DOS Time to hit on the widow!

Promo Images

Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season Magazine Advertisement


Alternate Titles

  • "חקירה משטרתית 4" -- Hebrew spelling
  • "PQ4" -- Informal abbreviation
  • "Police Quest 4" -- informal title
  • "Police Investigation 4" -- Israeli title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Realistic mystery, sometimes gritty to a fault Windows 3.x jTrippy (63)
PQ4's realism doesn't go far enough DOS Katakis | カタキス (43089)
Police Quest 4: Putting On The Ritz Windows 3.x ETJB (480)
Ahead of Its Time DOS ETJB (480)
A bad game (but not due to its realism) that lamentably takes 'Police Quest' title DOS jorgeabe (14)
A pretty realistic game. Two thumbs up!!! Windows 3.x James1 (244)
Fun, but challenging DOS Condemned (75)
Realism can be a boring thing DOS Isdaron (726)

Critic Reviews

Computer and Video Games (CVG) DOS Mar, 1994 86 out of 100 86
MikroBitti DOS Feb, 1994 83 out of 100 83
Pelit DOS Feb, 1994 81 out of 100 81
Adventure Classic Gaming DOS Apr 10, 1998 4 out of 5 80
Just Games Retro Windows 3.x Nov 19, 2006 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
Just Games Retro DOS Nov 19, 2006 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
GameCola.net Windows 3.x Oct 18, 2011 5 out of 10 50
PC Player (Germany) DOS Feb, 1994 48 out of 100 48
High Score Macintosh Dec, 1995 1 out of 5 20
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Windows 3.x Mar, 1994 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
Is dude's name really part of the game's title? 6 Pseudo_Intellectual (64820)
Jan 28, 2013


CD version

Daryl F. Gates Police Quest: Open Season was re-released in a CD version with new music, full speech (done by different actors than those who played the characters), numerous removed bugs, and many changes to the graphics. The cursors were re-designed and their size decreased, all objects in the inventory were re-drawn or re-photographed in a higher resolution, and many backgrounds and objects in background were re-shot in higher resolution (and thus higher quality) again. A short promo film on the game's making is included on the CD. There also two arcade games which can be accessed at 'The Short Stop' bar by clicking on the arcade games (an Asteroids clone and dune buggy game are available).

Though the CD version of the game is vastly expanded, it's also censored in one place - in the floppy version, Dennis Walker - the Nazi ruffian - is listening to music with Hitler's speech clearly audible in the background. This sample is present in the game's resource file RESOURCE.SFX. In the CD version, only the music is audible, and the file RESOURCE.SFX contains no trace of Hitler's speech anymore.


All the locations in the game are real, though some names are fictitious. Chief Gates wanted to keep the game as realistic as possible and insisted on using actual LA locations. Some of those were only available to the police and it was only thanks to Chief Gates' connections that the designers were able to photograph them. The Short Stop bar, featured in the game, is not only real, but infamous for a number of public disturbances involving police officers that occurred there. As the LAPD Chief, Daryl Gates disliked the bar for this reason so strongly that when he appeared there with the Sierra crew to take photos, the bar's owner thought they came to shut the place down.


It seems that the matchbox - not easy to find and not having any practical use in the game - may have been a trigger for some Easter Eggs, judging by certain messages that the game stores in the memory. For instance, there is a clear suggestion present in the memory to try and use the matchbox to light Mitchell Thurman's cellar *after* it's already lit. Doing so in the game displays an obscene message.


Both versions of the game have bugs which allow the player to gain more points than he's supposed to. In the floppy version, Carey can call Varaz multiple times and score points. In the CD version, this bug is removed, but another one is present - in some situations, the "flamethrower" can be constructed an infinite number of times, and every time the player scores points.


  • The game has two cameos by Chief Daryl Gates - he's on one of the top floors of Parker Center, and at the very ending of the game, as he speaks and gives the Medal of Valor to Detective John Carey.
  • All the texts in the game are encrypted and can only be read by dumping memory contents while playing the game, at its various stages. This also reveals some interesting notes left by the programmers - such as a funny habit of referring to John Carey's character as to "ego" (Editor's Note: This is because all of the "actors" in Sierra graphic adventures were called "ego"s in the game interpreter.). Some seemingly critical comments regarding the LA Mayor from the game can also be seen - and Chief Gates, the game's designer, left his post mostly because of heavy clashes with the LA mayor at the time.
  • The names of the characters' sprites, visible in memory dumps, seem to indicate that Mitchell Thurman's final victim - the unconscious woman, unbilled in the credits - was played by the game's producer, Tammy Dargan.
  • In addition, there seems to be yet another developer cameo in the game. Dumping the contents of memory while playing the last hours of the game reveals that the unfortunate "Mr Head", who can be found in Mitchell Thurman's refrigerator (and whose - headless - corpse is probably stacked in Mitchell's bathroom), is apparently played by someone called Dave. Since "Mr Head" is unbilled, this is most likely a macabre cameo by the game's programmer Dave Artis.
  • The "Red Dogs" entry in the gang database is apparently a reference to Sierra developers ("hanging out behind fast food restaurants, hiding somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains...") or perhaps their friends (the "gang leader" is named "Billy D." - and Billy D. is credited as playing the character of Dennis Walker in the game)
  • Try looking up the registration plate "1ADAM12" in the DMV database on the Homicide Squad server - this is probably a reference to the old TV series. (The server itself is named "Sonny" - probably a reference to Sonny Bonds)


Both versions had depictions or references that were on the more "mature" side of the gaming industry. If you try and touch a female police officer too many times, your character will be fired from engaging in sexual harassment. If you touch the Neo Nazi thug, he will call you a "mother-loving faggot." The West Hollywood record store owner sounds like a stereotypical stoner and some of the records in the store, next to a transgender nightclub, are often associated with gay men. The issue of gender identity is raised in the game, both through cross-dressing of the serial killer and through the implication that your best-friend/former police partner was transgender.

Information also contributed by Edward Brown and Rambutaan

Related Web Sites

  • PQ4 Hints (These hints, written by Diana Griffiths, will help you with the puzzles in the game.)
Contributed to by Andy Roark (268) and Tomas Pettersson (32064)
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