Police Quest IV: Open Season is the fourth entry in the Police Quest series. It differs from the previous titles in a few ways. First, retired LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates took over as writer and consultant, where California Highway Patrolman Jim Walls once served. Secondly, the player controls homicide detective John Carey, whereas in the past they played as officer Sonny Bonds. Third, the game's location had changed: all previous titles took place in fictional Lytton, California, while Police Quest IV was set in Los Angeles.
Additionally, photographs replace the game's previous painted scenes. For example, actual photographs of the LAPD's Parker Center were used to create the police station environments that Carey works in every day.
The Police Quest games are notorious for their strict following of police procedures to advance in the game, and Police Quest IV is no different, requiring standard departmental forms to be completed following interaction with suspects involved in criminal activity, trips to the firing range to complete periodic firearms qualification exams, and Game Over sequences if Carey sexually harasses any women during the game.
The gameplay mechanics follows a similar layout to the majority of Sierra adventure games of the era. There are a number of options along a taskbar (talk, touch, move, etc) as well as an inventory menu. Using items together or on parts of the environment will solve puzzles and progress the story. This was the same method of play used in Police Quest 3 and the VGA remake of Police Quest 1, unlike the original version of Police Quest 1 and Police Quest 2, which used text inputs.
The game follows the story of detective John Carey, who finds the body of his best friend alongside the body of a young boy in South Central LA. After ruling out gangland murders, Carey follows a trail of several other homicide cases, all of which found the victim mutilated and left in public places. Carey learns of his friend's secret double life in Hollywood, gets into a shootout with a gang in South Central, interrogates millionaire rappers and impoverished Nazis (among other adventures), as he works his way closer to the killer.
Once Carey closes in on the suspect and finds his home, he finds evidence related to the previous murders, before being knocked unconscious by the cross-dressing killer. Pulling a MacGyver, Carey scrounges up materials found in the suspect's home, and incapacitates him.
The killer of the game is said to be loosely based on Jeffrey Dahmer (at one point Carey finds a head in the killer's fridge).
The game was originally shipped on a set of floppy disks. A CD-ROM version was also released, adding full speech support for the game's text and dialogue.