Haunting Ground (aka Demento) is a lesser-known adventure-horror game released by Capcom.Fiona Belli is a young woman who was unfortunately involved in a car accident. However, she awakens in a castle and has no idea how she got there. Her main objective is to basically get the hell out of there, but the sinister residents of the castle have different plans for our heroine...The gameplay revolves much more on evading enemies and hiding than combat, as Fiona's fighting abilities (she can kick opponents, but it's very weak) are extremely limited (mainly as a throwback to the Clock Tower games, of which this game was to be the 5th installment, but was changed during production). Her health is measured by how calm she is—checking the wrong object or prolonged chases by enemies can cause her to be overcome with fear and panic, becoming disoriented, which is displayed as a blurry, distorted screen and problems controlling her. She eventually runs into an ally in the form of a dog named Hewie, who can be commanded to attack enemies, fetch items, or follow Fiona. The game has an unseen friendship meter of sorts — Fiona can either protect the dog or literally Kick the Dog — but abuse will make Hewie become distant from Fiona, causing him to ignore her commands or be slower to respond when Fiona becomes panicked.Now has a Character Sheet.
This game provides examples of:
Alas, Poor Villain: For all her Ax Craziness and wanting to kill Fiona, it's pretty easy to feel sorry for Daniella when she dies. She only wanted to be complete.
Same goes for Debilitas should the player not drop the chandelier onto him and opt to defeat him the old-fashioned way. Fiona feels guilty for killing him in self-defense, considering that Debilitas only wanted to play with her, not realising how dangerous he was.
Alchemy: One of the major themes of the game, and many of the trappings of alchemy show up (such as an elixir that grants life eternal, artificial life, the colored stages of purification, and so on).
Applied Phlebotinum: Azoth, which in alchemy is pretty much a cure-all and can restore youth, ensure long life, cure any injuries, and so on. Turns out Fiona's body is full of it, which is why everyone except Debilitas is hunting her.
Artificial Human: Daniella. Some of the levels also have failed homunculi standing around in various places doing strange things.
In truth, everyone in the castle but Fiona are all artificial creations, just on different levels.
Artificial Stupidity: This applies to the Stalkers, during the game's chase sequences whenever Fiona's hiding.
You'd think they'd be able to tell where she is based on Hewie's proximity to her, because he's never far from her side. Nor does it ever occur to them to simply kill Hewie, which would leave Fiona without any protection. Instead, they ignore Hewie altogether, even when he's barking at them and fiercely guarding Fiona's position. They simply walk past as they continue to roam the hallways looking for her.
Another example is whenever she's hiding under a bed. From certain vantage points in the room, she should be directly in the Stalkers' line of sight. Yet, they never notice her, even when she's only a few feet away.
Ax-Crazy: Daniella and Riccardo, the latter of whom carries a gun and is very trigger-happy.
Fiona also does this during some of her terrible deaths, like the one involving her hiding in an iron maiden from Daniella, who figures it out and calmly locks her inside before activating it, with Fiona pleading for her life right up to the end.
"And now, you are mine... All mine!"
Bishonen Line: When Fiona first encounters Lorenzo, he's a creepy, shriveled up old man. However, once he gives himself a dose of Azoth, he reverts to a decent but still unremarkable middle aged man — basically her father with nice hair — before immediately turning into his handsome, muscular, younger self, and is much more deadly now because he can hurl spells at Fiona. Then this is subverted when he falls into a lava pool and becomes a flaming skeleton armed with a Touch of Death.
This is applicable to the game's villainous cast overall. The last couple of stalkers are much more mundane than the initial threat.
Bizarrchitecture: The Escher-esque stairwell room. Not to mention the House of Truth, especially while you're being chased by young Lorenzo for the first time, during which there is a large corridor that goes in circles with seemingly no end.
Break the Cutie: Poor Fiona is subjected to this a lot throughout the game.
Captain Ersatz: A lot of examples between this game and Resident Evil 4, two 2005 survival horror games developed by Capcom. Fiona and Debilitas look remarkably like Ashley and the Gigantes, respectively. Belli Castle borrows heavily from Salazar's castle as well. And Hewie shows up in both games. See Cross Over below.
Captain Obvious: Fiona. "A woman with wings protruding out of her back. An angel, perhaps?"
Defeat Means Friendship: If you incapacitate rather than kill Debilitas during his boss fight, he sees Fiona as a sort of holy figure and will leave her alone, even allowing her to escape Belli Castle in one of the endings.
Dog Walks You: How you safely get across a couple of booby traps.
Fainting: Fiona, of the emotional variety. She's really a little too susceptible to them for her own good at times.
Fanservice: The sheet from the beginning of the game is quite modest compared to some of Fiona's outfits, not to mention her miniskirt and how "bouncy" she is.
Fiona even addresses how "tight" her new dress feels, especially "in the chest area".
Friendly Enemy: Even after she's decided to tear out your Azoth, Daniella is such a dutiful maid that she'll be too busy cleaning to bother you from time to time. You even get a useful item for talking to her during one such break from chasing Fiona.
Golem: Fiona comes across a couple of them during her journey in the castle. One of them is blocking a door and requires you to insert a keyplate inscribed with "emeth" to move it out of the way. As an added Genius Bonus for those familiar with the golem myth, you can use the word "METH" to make it crumble instead — and get an item as a reward.
Gorn: By and large... averted. The most graphic thing in the game is the hunk of meat Debilitias hacks apart at the start of the game. Other than that, there're nothing worse than a few blood puddles.
Gory Discretion Shot: A lot of the death traps don't directly show Fiona's death... which just makes it all worse.
Heal Thyself: Fiona can quiet down her panic and pick up her stamina by munching on camomile and lavender, respectively. She can also restore herself to full health by drinking tap water, provided nobody's looking. Hewie, on the other hand, can be fed with beef and chicken jerky.
I'm a Humanitarian: It is somewhat implied that Daniella was cooking the remains of Fiona's mother, Ayla, in the first part of the game. (The food is first identified as angel hair pasta, but a later inspection reveals that it is in fact human hair.) She later serves it to Fiona, who gets violently sick.
Interface Screw: Panic Mode. The screen goes blurry, everything turns black and white, the audio fills in with static and Fiona runs around in a panic. Not to mention, she's a One-Hit-Point Wonder in this mode.
Item Crafting: The alchemist's quarters has a machine in which Fiona can refine medallions into items for her and for Hewie, but some items can actually hurt them when used.
Kick the Dog: All of the stalkers are more than willing to harm or kill Hewie. In the Chaos Forest, he is shot by Riccardo, but Fiona fortunately comes to his aid. In the worst ending, though, he will actually die. This ending is achieved by having a bad relationship with Hewie, which includes abusing (and literally kicking) him.
Laughing Mad: Daniella does this in spades after finally going Ax-Crazy. And poor Fiona in the worst ending.
Leitmotif: Each stalker has a distinctive chase music which goes through tempo and volume shifts depending on how far behind you they are. It also gets remixed for their boss battle. In cutscenes, Hewie gets a theme of his own in the form of a soft, music box-like tune. Fiona is the only character without one, except maybe Endless Zero.
Licking the Blade: Daniella does this with a big shard of glass (or a fire poker, if she's optionally traded in the glass shard).
Load-Bearing Boss: Beating Lorenzo causes the section of the castle you're in to collapse. There's no time limit while Fiona escapes; however, she still needs to be quick, because being touched by Lorenzo's fire form will kill her in one hit.
Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: The entire game can be seen as an extended version of this, as Fiona can easily find or make everything she needs to defeat her pursuers and escape the castle. One has to wonder why they even left her alone in the first place...
Multiple Endings: Usually depends on how well you treated Hewie for most of the game. Another major contributor is whether you kill Debilitas or let him live.
Musical Spoiler: The music becomes chaotic when Fiona runs into enemies. When she successfully evades an enemy (usually by hiding), the music returns to normal.
When a stalker is in an area adjacent to the player, the ambient noise is replaced with dead silence.
This is actually an incredibly useful life-saver as the game will tell you when it's safe to leave a hiding spot only for the stalker to decide to waltz back in, so the player will need to rely on the return of the ambient music to know the coast is clear.
Mysterious Informant: Some guy named Lorenzo keeps slipping Fiona various notes over the course of the game. He turns out to be the Big Bad, who's only trying to help her get away from his insane lackeys so he can have her Azoth for himself.
Non-Standard Game Over: "Acta Est Fabula" shows up on the screen rather than the traditional Game Over whenever Fiona gets killed. Death by booby traps comes with a special video, where Fiona's gruesome fate is made pretty explicit as well.
Offscreen Teleportation: Most of the stalkers are guilty of this, but Daniella pops into existence in certain rooms. There's one room she'll always appear in, no matter where you saw her last. Fortunately, for some reason, her kill switch is set to "off" if you encounter her here; she's too busy cleaning to do anything else.
Oh Crap: Quite a few, but the fire-poker scene (Fiona) and the explosives scene (Lorenzo) are the first to come to mind.
One-Hit Kill: As mentioned below, Full-Panic means this will happen to Fiona, but each stalker also has one/two moves that can do this:
Debilitas raises both fists above his head and brings them down, or he will get atop Fiona and crush her neck.
Daniella can stab Fiona fatally with her shard/fire poker, or she can get atop Fiona and slit her throat.
Riccardo can aim his gun, performing a head-shot, or he can stand over Fiona and shoot her in the back (note; being too close at any time when he fires his gun will often kill instantly, even his scatter shots).
Lorenzo will pull Fiona down and get on top of her (leading to his normal Game Over).
Young Lorenzo uses highly damaging punches imbued with blue flames; these all have a chance of one-hit killing Fiona.
Flaming!Lorenzo will instantly set Fiona on fire if she's caught during the game's final chase sequence.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: Getting caught by enemies while under full Panic Mode usually reduces Fiona to this.
Riccardo is one of the game's easiest boss battles because he is this.
One-Winged Angel: Lorenzo is fought as the final boss in many forms before he goes down.
Pet the Dog: Fiona does this to Hewie when praising him, as well as in certain cutscenes. If Hewie is badly injured, Fiona can go over and stroke him comfortingly to get him back on his feet.
Puzzle Boss: Most, if not all, of the bosses are like this, seeing as how your only "weapons" are stun bombs and Hewie's attacks.
Rage Against the Reflection: The otherwise eerily collected (if murderous) Daniella goes berserk whenever she sees her own reflection. The player can use mirrors to distract and evade her when being chased.
Rainbow Speak: The game uses different colors to create hints when Fiona examines objects.
Relationship Values: Fiona can praise or scold Hewie, and too much abuse can cause the dog to be totally apathetic toward Fiona. He may even attack her. On Hard difficulty, Hewie can be killed off completely, giving you a Game Over.
Scenery Porn: Belli Castle has some sweet interior design going on.
Shout-Out: The tower in the middle of the lake is a direct shout out to the Clock Tower series, which this game was originally intended as a successor to.
Shown Their Work: Quite a bit of alchemy lore appears in this game, in addition to the myth about the golem (complete with "METH" making it crumble) and other things show that there was more than a passing interest in referring to it here.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Dumb brute who doesn't really understand that he's hurting Fiona —> craaazy maniac trying to eviscerate Fiona to complete herself —> Evil but entirely lucid Stalker with a Test Tube who wants to turn Fiona into an incubator —> Evil Old Folks —> Rejuvenated sorcerer/alchemist trying to kill Fiona to permanently rejuvenate himself —> horrifying flaming skeleton that can kill you in one hit.
Spiritual Successor: The game initially started development as a continuation to Clock Tower, and even though it ended up becoming its own independent title, it still shares similar gameplay mechanics and Dario Argento influences with the series that inspired it.
Viewers Are Geniuses: A lot of this game will fly over your head if you aren't at least partially familiar with the mythos surrounding alchemy — in particular, what Azoth is beyond some poorly-defined (in-game) MacGuffin the villains all seem to want.