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The Dagger of Amon Ra

aka: Colonel's Bequest II, Laura Bow 2, Laura Bow: Der Dolch des Amon Ra, Roberta Williams' Laura Bow in The Dagger of Amon Ra
Moby ID: 462
DOS Specs
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Description official description

One year after the events described in The Colonel's Bequest, Laura Bow, fresh out of college, is hired by a New York newspaper to write a story about the newest exhibit acquired by the local Leyendecker Museum, an ancient Egyptian dagger. However, during a party to celebrate the opening of the museum's new section, someone is murdered, the dagger is stolen, and Laura, after asking to be allowed to investigate, is locked in with the rest of the guests. This sets the stage for a series of murders, and it is up to Laura to find the person responsible for them.

The Dagger of Amon Ra plays similarly to the The Colonel's Bequest, focusing primarily on exploration and clue-gathering rather than on solving puzzles, although there are more instances of inventory item collection and usage in the sequel. With the exception of the introductory act, the entire game is set in the museum. The player navigates Laura through its rooms and interacts with characters to gather information and uncover their true motives. The game's clock advances when it is triggered by certain actions or simply by moving from location to location. Some information and events may only be available in specific places and at specific times. Near the end of the game Laura will be asked to make a case to to the coroner, which involves answering a series of questions concerning the crimes. Depending on his playing style, clues discovered, and deductive skills, the player may or may not have the correct answers to all the questions.

Unlike its predecessor - and like most other contemporary Sierra adventures - the game utilizes an icon-based interface instead of typing verb-object commands to interact with the environments. Topics can also be chosen from a list when the player selects the "Ask" command. The CD version features full speech, including narration.

Spellings

  • פגיון הדמים - Hebrew spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

107 People (99 developers, 8 thanks) · View all

Executive Producer
Creative Director
Producer
Director
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German Language Producer
Creative Consultant
Vice President, Product Development
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Art Designer
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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 75% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 67 ratings with 7 reviews)

Brilliant! Over a decade later, it is still a masterpiece!

The Good
I love the cast of colorful characters. Everyone is a suspect, and it's up to you to find out who's killing everybody and why. The death scenes are very cool. As the character's get bumped off one by one, your list narrows and you become a little more afraid that you might be next. Full of mystery, intrigue, and suspense, it is a wonderful game that can stand the test of time. Perhaps not graphically, but in substance and plot. Very few games coming out nowadays can even hold a candle to it.

The Bad
The only complaint I had was in the version with speech, some of the acting left something to be desired, particularly with Laura herself. As I played the first version of the game, I had an idea with what all the characters would probably sound like, and in my mind, Steve Dorian was not a bass. Either way, the end is tough, particularly if you didn't collect all of the evidence or get all of the points. When the coroner asked me who did what and why, I had to play the game a couple of times through again just to get most of them right.

The Bottom Line
If you love mystery games, this one is for you! I put a personal guarantee that you will enjoy it, and be immersed in the story. As a matter of fact, if you have a free day, I'd be willing to bet that one could sit and just play it from beginning to end without stopping. A wonderful game, well worth the purchase if you can find it anywhere.

DOS · by Aaron Jones (14) · 2003

A Classic Adventure Game

The Good
The Dagger of Amon Ra is a superior sequel to The Colonel's Bequest. As sequels go it features superior graphics, better music, and far simpler control mechanics. This game succeeds both as a sequel and as its own game.

The game is set in the 1920s and stars Laura Bow. Ms. Bow is an idealistic, plucky young reporter who has relocated to the big city, from her quaint rural hometown. Can Ms. Bow succeed in the big city?

Success requires you to explore the city, interact with its many citizens, collect items and solve puzzles. The big puzzle in the game is a high profile murder mystery that can make you famous or dead.

True to the tenor of the times, this game features many of the historical elements of the 1920s. This was the era of the flapper, fabulous gender nonconformity, free love, underground speakeasies and widespread love for Egyptology.



The Bad
While the gameplay mechanics are much improved from the first game, it is still a bit of a headache asking questions. I never got comfortable using the notebook to select various topics to ask people about. The sequel is miles above its predecessor, but it's still a bit of a pain.

Beyond the slight gameplay headaches, some of the voice acting in the game is probably a tad bit, "politically incorrect". I am talking about the police officer with the thick Irish accent or the Chinese laundryman who does not speak English terribly well. I will leave it to the player to decide for himself or herself whether or not this is a problem.

This game was published prior to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), but I would personally suggest that the game is suitable for players 13+. Some of the death sequences can be pretty brutal to watch, and this game has a fair share of mild sexual innuendos to giggle at.

The Bottom Line
The Dagger of Amon Ra is a wonderful adventure game from the early 1990s. Fans of adventure games, or a good murder mystery, should give this game a try.

Windows · by Edward TJ Brown (118) · 2019

A good old fashioned murder-mystery, with a female protagonist that has more brain than bod.

The Good
This was the very first PC game I played when I got a computer at home, so I'm somewhat biased towads it.

This is another in Sierra's long line of fine adventure games, and it doesn't fail to please. You get the chance to play a brainy, but inexperienced, reporter/detective trying to solve a string of murders in 1920's New York. Surprise surprise though, the character is female. At the time of this games release, a strong female lead character was almost unheard of. Kudo's to Sierra for choosing to take this risky path.

The plot includes all the best ingredients from classic murder-mysteries, with a dash of the egyptian thrown in for spice. Graphically, the game delivers Sierra's usual sumptious hand-painted backgrounds, combined with their trademark less-than sumptious rotoscoped characters. The game has almost no bugs in it's initial release, a rarity among Sierra's fare at the time.

One final point I should make are the "extra's" packed in with the game. Included with the requisite disks and manual are a small pamphlet giving directions to the fictional Leyendecker Museum portayed in the game as well as a longer pamphlet describing all the latest displays at the museum. These are professionally designed and are great keepsakes that really enhance the games atmosphere. I only wish more games these days came with these types of cool extra's.

The Bad
While as stated before, there are few bugs in the game, but the ones present are game stopping, of the variety "oops, you did something we didn't expect, now the game has to crash". Save often is all I can say.

The only other bad point I can find with the game is the ending. Your asked several questions about all the murders, alliances, and conspiracies that took place during the game. But at no point during the game or manual is it mentioned that you should take notes while playing. Trust me, the questions asked are tough enough even if you do take notes, and your sunk if you didn't take any. Keep a pad and pen handy while playing and write down everything "significant" that a reporter would about the mysteries.

The Bottom Line
Overall a superb game that I wished continued in a few sequels. Be sure to check out the first game in the Laura Bow series, "The Colonel's Bequest".

DOS · by Digital Arse (9) · 2000

[ View all 7 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
UK version v.1.1? Edwin Drost (9742) Feb 15, 2017

Trivia

Archaeologist Song

Both the CD and the disk version of Dagger of Amon Ra feature a digitized song, a cheeky one-minute ditty in Charleston style called Archaeologist Song. It is one of three pieces that play in the seedy Harlem speakeasy in Act 1, and is repeated in the ending credits.

The tune was composed by Chris Braymen, who also plays the trombone in the song. The other performers are Sierra’s sound designers Dan Kehler (bass) and Mark Seibert (guitar); the singer is Susan Kehler. The Dagger of Amon Ra’s producer/designer Bruce Balfour contributed the lyrics. They go as follows (transcript by Danelope):The Archaeologist Song

I want to marry an archaeologist

And keep his artifacts warm

I'd travel with him through jungles and deserts

And weather out every storm

If he wants me to, I'll burrow and dig

On burials small and castles big

Oh, I want to marry an archaeologist

What a marvelous gig

Mummy would love him and Daddy too

We'd be famous and well-to-do

Oh, I want to marry an archaeologist

Then I could boop-e-doo, swahoo

I could boop-e-doo, ooh

We'd play peek-a-booYou can listen to the Archaeologist Song over at Queststudios.com.

Brontosaurus

The Brontosaurus painting's commentary in the T-Rex room gives the story of a controversy between Othaniel Marsh and Earl Douglas about which kind of head the Brontosaurus had. "Only time, and more fossil evidence, will conclusively prove which of these esteemed gentlemen is correct", ends the description, accurately staying within the frame of knowledge of a 1926 museum.

For curious players, here's what time has proved: Douglas had been right; all Brontosaurus displays of the period featured the wrong kind of head. It took almost fifty years until the problem was settled in 1975.

CD version

The CD conversion of The Dagger of Amon Ra makes use of several Sierra staff members for the voiceovers, including some not involved with the game’s production – such as Gabriel Knight mastermind Jane Jensen (playing a lewd flapper) or Scott Murphy of Space Quest fame. Both the game’s producer Bruce Balfour and writer Josh Mandel feature heavily in the cast, Mandel lending his voice to as many as five characters. Other notable guest voices: Lead programmer Brian K. Hughes as a bartender and supporting writer Lorelei Shannon (later co-designer of King’s Quest 7) as street urchin Stinky.

Besides adding voice-overs for all game characters including the narrator, the CD version removes the copy protection, cuts the taxi rides short (which last as long as the ride music in the disk version) and solves a few minor bugs.

Cover

The woman posing on the front of the game's box was actually Sierra's desk receptionist at the time. Roberta Williams said she found it cute when people asked where they had seen her before. In the game Laura Bow has red hair but on the box cover she is a brunette.

Deaths

There are numerous ways to die in The Dagger of Amon Ra. All of them are represented by a unique animation, some well worth seeing:* Walk on the street in any of the New York locations * Use your press pass on the speakeasy door * Walk down the stairs to the basement without replacing the broken lightbulb * Take the cheese from the rat trap in Wolf Heimlich’s office * Stir the alcohol vats three times in a row * Enter any secret passage without the lit lamp * Open the steamer trunk in the storage room and wait for too long * Be bitten by Dr. Myklos’ snake * Be caught by the murdered in Act 5 * Fail to solve the riddle of Amon Ra at the cult ceremony * Open the furnace door in the basement * Fail to chase the snakes or the rats away in the tunnel from the furnace room * Enter the left doorway at the top of the tunnel from the furnace room * Leave the T-Rex room while being chased by the murderer * And finally, of course: Fail to solve the case at the coroner’s interrogation!

Development

In the manual for the Roberta Williams Anthology, Roberta Williams writes about The Dagger of Amon Ra:

The writing and puzzle designs for Laura Bow II were handled by Bruce Balfour. It was my job to make sure the feel of The Colonel’s Bequest and The Dagger of Amon Ra remeined consistent. I wanted to make sure Laura Bow was the same person who would respond in the same way. I was involved from the beginning, working on characters, art, style, and the look and feel of the game. Then Bruce took over. It was a rewarding experience; I was freed from the huge time commitment to manage every single detail of the project, and I was delighted with the fresh ideas Bruce brought the game. By the way, on the box cover, we asked our receptionist Lisa Crabtree to pose as Laura Bow. It was kind of cute how visitors would sometimes ask where they’ve seen her before.

Gags

Here are some fun things to try in the game:* Touch everybody.

  • Talk to the fossils in the Mastodon room.

  • Look at every item in the medieval room. Examine the dog armor with the magnifying glass.

  • Touch the dagger case in the Egyptian room.

  • Press the top two button on the intercom in Dr. Carrington’s office and talk into it repeatedly.

  • Try to take any weapon on the rack in Wolf Heimlich’s office EXCEPT for the sword.

  • After the discovery of Ziggy’s head and the interrogation, touch the head on the wall.

  • When you find the dead Countess, examine the papers around her with the magnifying glass.

  • When you can enter the storage room in the preservation lab after 1.00 AM, you encounter Daisy, Dr. Myklos’ ferret. Ask Daisy about Dr. Carrington, Yvette Delacroix, Detective O’Riley, Wolf Heimlich, Olympia Myklos and the piece of cheese. You can also use the snake oil on her.

  • Examine the mummy in the case on the right side of the door in the sarcophagus room.

Hieroglyphs

The hieroglyphs used in the game are not fictitious. They follow the transliteral system, a representation of the 26 modern alphabetical letters by hieroglyphs. Such a transliteration was first published by Erman and Grapow in 1926, which would fit the timeframe of the game.

The representation of the Rosetta Stone in the game is (purposefully) wrong though; neither is it broken into two parts, nor do its hieroglyphs follow a transliteral alphabet.

References

  • The musical theme that plays when you visit Dr. Olympia Myklos' office is the same as one of the themes that was used in the Addams Family 1960s TV series.
  • The oceanliner Andrea Doria seen in the intro and on the docks is clearly inspired in shape and name by the famous Andrea Doria, which sunk after a collision near the Massachusetts coast. That was in 1956; the ship had been launched in 1951. Since The Dagger of Amon Ra is set in 1926, we can only assume that the ship in the game is a different Andrea Doria. Or an anachronism.
  • According to the game, the Leyendecker museum is named after its founder Ignatz Leyendecker, a banana tycoon. The fictional Ignatz Leyendecker might have borrowed his unusual name from Joseph Christian Leyendecker, who really existed – he was one of the US’ most famous illustrators who, among other things, popularized the mainstream image of red-coated, white-bearded Santa Claus.
  • The Leyendecker Museum’s front is clearly modeled after the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. All architectural details match.

References: Sierra

As with most Sierra adventure games of the era, The Dagger of Amon Ra contains several allusions to other Sierra franchises.* When Laura probes the storage vats in the museum’s basement, she finds a unicorn ("Possibly left over from a King's Quest game") and King Edward of Daventry preserved in alcohol. Edward is the ruler of Daventry in the first King's Quest (1984).

  • In Carrington’s office, Laura discovers a telephone directory. The entry "T. Dargan" refers to Tammy Dargan, a producer at Sierra (Police Quest). "R. Williams" is, of course, Roberta Williams.

  • If Laura examines the water glass with the magnifying lens, she finds an inscription: "Manufactured by Leyendecker Glassworks, Coarsegold, California". Coarsegold is an actual city in California, but it's more familiar to Sierra fans as the name of the town from Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, a game which was in production at the time when The Dagger of Amon Ra was released.

  • When Laura examines the stars in the night sky from Dr. Carrington’s office, she discoveres the star Deneb Kaitos Ecoquestus, in the constellation Cetus. This is a reference to EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (1991).

  • On the close-up of the Anonymous Bosch painting, Laura can examine the person depicted there to learn that it’s “a dead king named Graham”. Graham is the protagonist of the first, second and fifth instalment of the King's Quest series.

  • When Laura and Steve flee from the furnace room and encounter the snakes in the tunnel, there is a line of faint hieroglyphs etched into the wall. Translated, they read: BUY SIERRA PRODUCTS.

References to the game

What happened to Laura Bow and Steve Dorian after the events in The Dagger of Amon Ra? Apparently, they got married! A note on the bulletin board in Tulane University in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers informs students about a lecture on "Investigative Reporting techniques" to be held by "octogenarian Pulitzer Price winner Laura Bow Dorian". Octogenarian means: someone in their 80s.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #7 Least Rewarding Ending of All Time

Information also contributed by -Chris, Istari, LepricahnsGold and willyum

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Related Sites +

  • Amon Ra Hints
    Get the solutions gradually in this question and answer file by the Universal Hint System.
  • Amon Ra Walkthrough
    A walkthrough posted on Abby Cheats
  • Crapshoot
    A humorous text on PC Gamer which talks about weird aspects of some games; including this one.
  • Game Nostalgia
    Provides extensive background info for The Dagger of Amon Ra, pictures of the cast and examples of voice-overs, full credits with shots and info about the design team, a demo of the game, specific details about the game, various goodies, all musical themes, shots of every location in the game, saved games, a list of reviews, including a "nostalgic "review and tech specs.
  • The Dagger of Amon Ra Help
    The Dagger of Amon Ra on sierrahelp.com. Features help for technical problems, downloads and walkthroughs.
  • The Laura Bow Coalition Headquarters
    A project to petition for another Laura Bow sequel.

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  • MobyGames ID: 462
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Eurythmic.

Windows added by Cavalary. Windows 3.x added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: Derrick 'Knight' Steele, Jeanne, formercontrib, martin jurgens, Crawly, Garcia, 6⅞ of Nine, Patrick Bregger.

Game added November 23, 1999. Last modified January 21, 2024.