The game The Colonel's Bequest consists of eight parts, each representing an act of one hour in the play which forms the storyline. Within each act, several events occur which you as a viewer must take note of, or act on. Although the game explicitly shows the time progressing with steps of quarters of an hour, almost every event or action can be performed or take place within the full hour of the act you are playing. If however an hour has past and a new act has begon, you cannot experience any event that belongs in the hour that has just past.
You ( Laura Bow ) are to take note of all that occurs. Not everything that happens or is shown on the screen you walk through, is automatically known to Laura. You will need to use the command line interface to make sure your character has seen what is present. Pretty much everything that does not immediately has to do with other characters being visibly in your screen, will have to be noticed by you yourself. For example, you will need to see an object lying around or see what has changed to a piece of scenery. This means you will have to explore the scenery with great scrutiny.
The game's difficulty and intensity will increase with your own level of enthusiasm and involvement, as it is quite easy to finish the game itself. At the end of the game, you will be confronted with your level of performance, specifically how much information you have gathered about the events that occur. From a simple snoop who at least finds out who was killed that night and where their bodies ended up, to a supersleuth who actually knows motives, methods and all that has occured.
The best tactics to finish this game with a maximum score, is to keep returning to places, and to really try to not only to find objects, but to understand their place in what's happening.
Other than walking around with the cursor keys, all control lies in giving commands in the the command line interface, which appears at the moment you start typing (unless you already have a message box shown or are looking at an automated moment in the game. As soon as you get the hang of the syntax of commands and questions to other characters, you should be able to proceed and find more and more solutions within the game.
A useful tip is to use the right mouse button on several objects in your screen. It helps you to find out what things are if you're looking for inspiration in what to do in the game (it is the equivalent of look at [object]).