"Can you hear the whispers, Jeremiah? Even another continent isn't far enough. Remember, I tried to go as well. I still heard them, even in Asian dens and German gutters. I figured it out, it's inside ... It won't be long until you cross the threshold, brother." —Aaron Covenant.
Set in the 1920s, Patrick Galloway is a paranormal investigator who has been exiled from his native Ireland for unknown reasons. He receives a letter from an old war buddy, Jeremiah Covenant, who saved his life during the First World War. The Covenant estate has been terrorized by frightening and deadly paranormal events, caused by a family curse that claimed the rest of his siblings, and Jeremiah's ailing health makes him helpless to stop it. Owing a life debt to his old friend, Patrick breaks his exile and returns to Ireland.
Except ... the Covenant siblings aren't quite dead, and they're not happy about Patrick sticking his nose into "family affairs." The Covenant siblings were cursed many years ago when they childishly performed an ancient occult ritual at the nearby Standing Stones, dooming them to madness and death only to be resurrected as nightmarish abominations. Now they seek to awaken the evil being known as the Undying King so he can reclaim his dominion over the earth.
But the awakening of such occult forces has also drawn Patrick's nemesis, Otto Keisinger, who wants to use the Covenant estate for his own ends. Before Patrick can end the terrors of the Undying curse, he's going to have to square off with Keisinger once and for all.
This game contains examples of the following:
Alien Geometries: Mostly happens in Oneiros, but some parts of the manor also feature this. For example, when exploring the Widow's Watch (located in the east side of the manor), you end on the great hall (placed in the west side). This was intentional, according to Word of God.
The game comes with Jeremiah's journal, where he explains how the Covenants were cursed and how they all met their untimely end. Also, you can find a transcript of some chat with one of the game developers here.
A lot of plot details were cut from the game because of time constraints near the end. This is why the ending is rather confusing and incomplete. The basic mechanics behind the curse are as follows - The Undying King is basically an Eldritch Abomination (whose name derives from the fact that Standing Stones island looks like a crown when seen from a side profile) and the Celtic human sacrifice was essentially a seal to keep said Undying King locked away. When Jeremiah took his siblings to the Standing Stones Island and read from the book, he undid that old seal and recreated it in a specific way... the siblings became a living seal, both corrupted and rendered effectively immortal by the power of the Undying King.
According to Word of God, the brotherhood of monks was supposed to guard the different nexi across the world (mentioned by Patrick at the end of the game, when he says there are more gates). They also continue their watch after their death (that's why they haunt the catacombs).
Always Chaotic Evil: The Trsanti, a sort of pirate/gypsy hybrid. Patrick's journals show that he relishes slaughtering as many of them as he can.
Amplifier Artifact; The game features disposable items known as Amplifiers, which can be used to take one of your magic spells up one level. There's also the Gel'Ziabar Stone, which boosts all your spells one level if you use it in concert (though you effectively have no gun if you choose to do this).
Ancient Tomb: Mausoleums, catacombs, crypts and the Tomb of the Undying King.
And I Must Scream: Aaron was chained up in a dungeon and eaten alive by rats, with his jaw removed so he couldn't scream.
Animate Dead: The game has the Invoke spell, which raises dead enemies to fight on your side for a little while. It also insta-kills skeletons. And makes a targeted male Trsanti kill himself, though not the female Trsanti for some reason. A journal written by a Trsanti witch specifically calls out the tribe's men for their weak-mindedness.
Another Dimension: Oneiros and Eternal Autumn, both magical realms either controlled or created by Keisinger and Bethany.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Phoenix near the end: you can control the shot and use it to explore the level around, but it's too fast and difficult to send against a foe and it deals mediocre damage to the enemies. The Spear Gun you find before is much more practical to use by comparison.
Badass Normal: He may have some magical powers, but Patrick is more-or-less a normal man fighting evil undead siblings, powerful archmages and all sorts of demonic beings.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: The game does this with the final boss fight, no less than four times. Here we go:
First, you fight Bethany, who's been set up to be the final boss all through the game.
...which results in the much-hyped Undying King being summoned, leaping out of the ground looking like a pissed-off mummy, as befit his name, only to disintegrate into powder upon hitting the ground...
...only then does the real Undying King (the Celtic King was just a human sacrifice) raise out of the ground in the form of some odd-Eldritch Abomination-crab-spider-scorpion thing. After him, the game ends. Promise.
Ballistic Bone: The game has a spell (the game's equivalent of a rocket launcher) that pulls skulls out of the ground, charges them with magic and fires them when you release the button. The ammo is justified by the island having been a battleground for pretty much forever, "Not an inch of this ground where someone hasn't died." Doesn't explain how you can use it up on the roof of the mansion, though...
Batman Gambit: Jeremiah already became an undead years ago, and only called upon Patrick so he could kill off his siblings and Keisinger so nothing could stand in his way for his double-cross.
Beating A Dead Player: The game had a unique "kill-the-player" animation for every single enemy in the game (except for the Lesser Monto Shonoi: Word of God says there was no way the small ones could have looked right with the same animation as the large ones, so the developers had to block it from them).
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Covenant family, even before the last members were horribly cursed. It's hinted that the Covenant family has a dark history involving untimely deaths, creating all sorts of bloody rumors.
Black Sheep: Even without the curse, Ambrose was a hellion that eventually joined up with pirates and even jumped off a cliff rather than be arrested by the police (he gets better).
Body Horror: Bethany got her final revenge on her brother Aaron by chaining him inside her private dungeon and letting rats eat him alive, removing his jawbone so he couldn't scream. Which also qualifies as Artistic License - Biology, since removing someone's jawbone does not affect his ability to scream - the vocal cords should be removed for it. As a matter of fact, he could probably do nothing but scream.
Aaron wields a chain that he uses as a whip against you. The only way to defeat him is to position yourself in front of one of the rings on the wall and dodge his attack. His chain will get trapped in the ring, and you can attack him while he's busy trying to get the chain out.
Ambrose is invulnerable because he grabs your magic Gel'ziabar stone and puts it in his axe. He's only killable when a giant Gel'ziabar dog comes out of nowhere and attacks him, and then you can only kill him by first shooting the stone out of his axe. If you don't rush up and kill him right away, the dog will vanish, and he will pick up the stone, put it back in his axe, and resume being invulnerable until the next dog attack.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted totally with the pistol and other real-world weapons, including shotguns and dynamite. Further subverted with the Tibetan War Cannon, which has infinite power, but must be recharged.
Broken Bridge: Sure'n you'll be hearing Patrick's Oirish brogue declaring a door to be "Stuck!" or "Won't budge!" and awful lot, boyo.
Buried Alive: An ancient warrior is buried alive at the Standing Stones to seal the Undying King. Also, Lizbeth.
Cain and Abel: All the Covenant children fell to the curse of the Undying King, only to be resurrected as monstrous forms of their previous selves. They're out to kill Jeremiah, the last surviving son, to complete the curse.
There are also Bethany and Aaron, twins who utterly despised one another and were in constant rivalry. Bethany won, by chaining up her brother in a dungeon accessed through her room to be eaten by rats, and removing his jaw so he couldn't scream.
Came Back Wrong: Those brought back by the undying curse are twisted shadows of their former selves.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Bethany studied under various mages to learn all she could from them and then dropped them as soon as they were no longer useful. She finally met her end when Keisinger betrayed her before she got the chance.
Circle of Standing Stones: There's a set of standing stones where an occult ritual unleashed a curse upon those who performed it. And that's just the start.
Clown-Car Grave: The game had a spell where you yanked skulls out of the ground and fired them like a rocket launcher. The manualexplained that the area you were in had been a battleground for centuries, and there basically was not one square inch that something hadn't died on.
The Corruption: The undying curse. Not to mention just being near the Scythe of the Celt can cause someone to descend into bloodlust and madness.
Covers Always Lie: In the backcover, you can see images of Patrick fighting a Monto Shonoi in Oneiros (they don't appear there in the game) and a Howler in the manor with the Skull Storm spell (which is acquired after the part of the game with the Howlers).
Creator Cameo: Ambrose Covenant's voiced by none other than Clive Barker himself.
Creepy Changing Painting: Played for horror here where, near the beginning of the game is a large painting of all the Covenant children. Using the Scrye spell on it makes everyone except Jeremiah turn into their demonic forms on the picture, the exact same forms you have to bossfight one-by-one later in the game. As for Jeremiah, he's simply decapitated in the picture... foreshadowing the exact manner in which he dies. Both times.
Creepy Child: All of the Covenant children once they were cursed. A particular mention goes to Lizbeth, who bit her nanny and licked her lips afterward.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Your character Patrick Galloway suddenly jumps like a flea through a stained glass window many feet away to escape danger. Normally he only jumps about as high as a normal man.
Deadly Dodging: When fighting Aaron, he will stand in the middle of the room when sufficiently injured and keeps attacking with his chain hook. The trick is to let him attack then sidestep when you are in from of the door. If done right, the hook gets stuck in the door and Aaron can be "killed" by decapitating him with the scythe.
Deadly Lunge: Demonic monsters referred to as "Howlers" pose the primary threat, at least early on. Roughly humanoid with canine features and some ape-like elements thrown in, howlers gallop towards the player until they get close enough to pounce. In this case "close enough" is about twenty meters or so. They always land ready to strike with their razor-sharp claws.
Determinator: Let's face it: Patrick pretty much IS this trope. Let's see here: Survive World War One? Check. Survive at least decades of conflict with Otto Keisinger? Check. Get through Irish customs unnoticed in order to fulfill a life debt? Check. Fight through wave after wave of unspeakable abominations that have racked up quite the kill count? Check. Handle the Artifact of Doom with fairly marginal damage? Check. Kill off the undead and superhuman Covenant siblings one by one? Check. Go into HELL to defeat Keisinger? Check. Survive Jeremiah's betrayal? Check. Take down the Eldritch Abomination that helped cause this godforsaken train wreck in the first place? Check. Basically, by the end, he is pretty much surviving more-or-less because it seems like he can't bloody DIE.
Deus ex Machina: Played with in the giant hellhound that makes it possible for you to defeat Ambrose. It seems like it comes out of nowhere, but read Patrick's journal and he'll mention that if you use the Gel'ziabar stone too much; you know, the one Ambrose just stole and is using against you; a "strange dog-like beast" might show up to menace you. According to Word of God, the stone was once used to open a rift between our world and the hounds' dimension that never closed.
Disposable Woman: The maids pretty much exist to get killed by Howlers. The male servants seem a bit better at living. The butler survives as well as you do.
Enemy Mine: The skeletons in the monastery aren't actually controlled by Lizbeth, according to Word of God. That doesn't stop them from temporarily allying with Lizbeth and her Howlers to try to kill you.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Lizbeth kept the animated corpse of her mother in her lair, seated at a dining table and presumably "keeping her company."
Evil Tower of Ominousness: One of the manor's towers has an unearthly purple halo stretching into the sky, marking the portal to Oneiros.
Fan Disservice: Lizbeth is wearing nothing but a barely-there torn dress, complete with Gainaxing, which would look sexy if she wasn't a cursed undead and the sheer amount of blood staining down the front from her previous meal. She's so horrifying it's not even remotely attractive. This is driven home when you use the scrye on one of her pretty portraits. Although, both Lets Plays comment on her being attractive and her victory pose over Patrick makes it obvious she was intended to be hot in uncomfortable ways. Clive Barker's stuff tends to be "interesting" like that.
Flaming Skulls: The game has a spell called Skull Storm which allows you to throw not merely flaming skulls, but flaming skulls that chatter with each other and explode upon impact.
Floating Water: One part of set in Oneiros had vertical columns of water that you had to ascend and jump out of at the top to scale a dungeon.
Footprints Of Muck: Scrying will sometimes show bloody footprints, showing you how to get through some puzzles.
Freudian Excuse: It is pretty clear that whatever the siblings did at the Standing Stones is responsible for a LOT of their behavior (especially what they did after they died).
Hostage for MacGuffin: At one point, one of the villains demands a magic stone from the main character in exchange for his friend's life. Despite his friend's protests, and despite the fact that killing the friend has seemed to be the sole goal of the villains up to this point, he hands it over. This doesn't play out so much to standards of the trope, as to how it realistically would — the baddie kills his hostage, then uses the stone to enhance his powers.
Idiot Ball or Too Dumb to Live: Jeremiah. Let's go over his plans again: You are the weakest of the five undead siblings that no mortal weapon can kill for real. You trick the hero into finding a supernatural weapon that actually can and into using said weapon for killing your stronger siblings, their armies of demonic mooks and extremely powerful evil wizard. So far so good. Very smart of and good for you. Revealing everything to and mocking/threatening said hero while you have no demonic armies or powers to hurt him in any way? Not so much.
In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Clive Barker was brought in partway through development for a rewrite of the story, and he also ended up doing a character's voice. His name was attached to it because Electronic Arts thought it would sell. Unfortunately, despite being a very good game, it didn't — due in no small part to the sum total of EA's marketing campaign for the game being slapping "Clive Barker's" in front of the title.
Interface Screw: Being attacked by a Sil Lith Inhabitant (a bird-like monster first seen in the Oneiros level), will severely distort the protagonist' vision, and the crosshair will move around the screen instead of staying at the center, making it hard to hit anything with your weapons.
Living Statue: The game has a weird bit where to get to the upper floor of a room in magical alternate dimension, the player must use the scrying spell on the statue in the center of the room. This shows its heart exposed, which the player must then shoot with his gun. This causes blood to pour out and allows the player to swim to the upper level.
Magic Is a Monster Magnet: It's mentioned in the backstory that excessive usage of the Gel'ziabar stone will cause the user to be hunted by the Hound of Gel'ziabar. This doesn't actually happen in gameplay, although the Hound does pop up during a couple pre-scripted events.
According to Word of God, creatures like Skarrows, Flickering Stalkers and Monto Shonoi are interdimensional squatters, magic scavengers, that were attracted to Oneiros and the manor, and later enslaved.
The Many Deaths of You: The game had the camera go 3rd-person and play a standard animation of whatever enemy dealt the finishing blow performing some kind of gory fatality on you.
Merlin and Nimue: This was Bethany Covenant's modus operandi, learning everything she can from other magic users before betraying or abandoning them. She finally met her end when her final teacher offed her first.
Monster Closet: This happens with a skeleton while you're around the monastery catacombs.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: First Patrick discovers that, by using the Scythe, he's been unwittingly collecting the souls of the Covenant siblings for Jeremiah. When he tries to fix that by killing Jeremiah at the Standing Stones, he creates the necessary sacrifice to bring forth the Undying King. Oops.
Non Standard Skill Learning: All spells are acquired by taking a magic scroll, except for the Lightning spell. For that one, you must take a lightning rod and put it in a orifice on a roof. A lightning will strike the rod and you will receive the electricity, which will give you the spell.
Off with His Head!: The only way to destroy the undead Covenants, and it has to be done with a certain weapon at that. This is also one of only two ways to make a skeleton stay down for good, the other being Revive Kills Zombie.
Paranormal Investigation: Patrick's current profession although, despite possessing the Gel'ziabar Stone and knowing some magic, he's rarely come across anything that couldn't be explained by mundane causes. Until now.
Parental Obliviousness: Joseph Covenant has no idea what has befallen his children until Jeremiah finally breaks down and confesses. Even though he tries hard to find some way to break the curse, he ultimately fails.
Portal Pool: The method for traveling between the past and present versions of the monastery. Bonus points for each side of the pool reflecting the other: in the present day, the pool's reflection shows the past, and vice versa.
Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The spell Invoke allows you to reanimate monsters and destroy undead. If you use it on a male Trsanti, he will jerkily turn his weapon on himself as he begs for his life in terror, slitting his own throat or blowing his brains out. Doesn't seem to work on primitive humans.
Puzzle Boss: A lot of the bosses are pretty much invincible until they run out of juice. Lizbeth goes invincible with her Limit Break, and you have to wait for her to tucker out before you can take her head off. Ambrose gets all gigantimous, and you have to wait until he's distracted so that you can hit his weak point for massive damage. Aaron is invulnerable until one of his spears gets stuck, at which point you rush in and finish him off.
Reverse Shrapnel: The Skull Storm spell causes cackling, burning skulls to burst out of the ground one by one and hover in front of you until you let them all go flying off to explode on their target.
Revive Kills Zombie: This is literally the only way to kill the Skeleton Monks, until you get the Scythe and are able to decapitate them.
Reviving Enemy: The skeletons. Using the Tibetan War Canon sometimes prevents them getting up and invoke instantly destroys them (although it uses a lot of mana). The scythe puts a permanent end to them.
Revolvers: Patrick Galloway carries a Smith & Wesson Model 3 "Schofield".
Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Oneiros features a lot of them. The backstory implies they belong to former cities inhabited by the creatures that you fight, but it's not explained to depth in the game.
Sanity Slippage: Journal entries show that this was inevitable for the Covenant siblings.
"Can you hear the whispers, Jeremiah?"
Scenery as You Go: This happens in the floating city of Oneiros. At several points you will see a floating platform of some sort, far out of reach of any jump, and a path on your current platform seemingly leading off into oblivion. Walk towards the end of it and, just as you reach the edge, floating tiles will appear.
Scenic Tour Level: The short segment where a maiden guides you from the manor entrance to Jeremiah's bedroom, which allows you to have a glimpse of the manor.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The Undying King. who was actually the LID on the can, opening the door to the rest of the series. Unfortunately, this well done game bombed monstrously, so the series never materialized...
See-Thru Specs: Using the Scrye magic allows Patrick to see or hear the past, reveal hidden truths or creepy foreshadowing.
Self-Made Orphan: Ambrose beats his father to death with a pool cue, tired of him meddling in his affairs.
Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: The game had a resurrection power, but it was rather weak since it could only work on one enemy at a time, and resurrected enemies would crumble to dust after a couple dozen seconds and also had a random chance of turning on you and attacking you.
Of course, the same spell only works on monsters. If used on a living person, it only lets you give one type of order.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Patrick's former profession as a soldier left him with some psychological scars, the Gel'ziabar Stone, and a life debt owed to Jeremiah Covenant.
Sinister Scimitar: The game has the Trsanti militants attacking you with very large scimitars.
Sinister Scythe: One of these becomes a vital weapon, both for plot reasons and as an emergency healing source (it's a vampiric weapon). You probably won't use it unless you have to, though.
Skeptic No Longer: Patrick started his career as an Occult Detective trying to "debunk folklore and mysticism." Presumably he stopped trying to disprove the supernatural at the latest by some point between obtaining the clearly magical Gel'ziabar stone and gaining a German wizard as an archrival.
The Southpaw: Patrick Galloway is notable as one of the few FPS protagonists to hold most, if not all of his weapons in his left hand during gameplay.
Spooky Painting: Just scrye a few of the paintings. Like the one at the top of the page...
The Starscream: Jeremiah plotted to use Gel'ziabar stone to drain energy from the Undying King and become a god himself.
Too Dumb to Live: There are still servants working at the Covenant Manor, despite the fact that many have died from demonic beasts. One guy finally decides he's had enough and leaves, only to get killed at the front gate.
Also Jeremiah, who mocked and shoved Patrick around, the very same man who killed all of his other siblings.
And who is at that very moment holding the only weapon that can destroy him.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Throwing motolov cocktails on humans will make them run around screaming until they die. The player can also amplify the Invoke magic which causes male Trsanti enemies to kill themselves against their will.
Wizard Duel: The battle against Keisinger in Oneiros. Both of you have an identical and sizable array of spells (with the exception of flight, yours is limited, his is not) which you've painstakingly acquired through the length of the game, you're both flying around at the top of a ziggurat floating in his insane pocket dimension, ducking behind columns, using shield counterspells and charging up blasts of lightning and fireballs to cast at each other with distinct gestures for each hand in first-person.