Video Game: Haunting Ground
) 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. In fact, getting the best ending requires that he survives.
- 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).
- And Call Him George: Debilitas, who thinks Fiona is a big doll for him to play with.
- Androcles' Lion: Fiona frees Hewie near the beginning of the game after Riccardo tied him up. He returns by fending off Debilitas a few minutes later, and accompanying her through the rest of the game.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Patient outfit, normal outfit without shoes, Frog Mascot, Cowgirl, *ahem* dominatrix... Even Hewie gets a different fur color scheme as well as one that makes him look like a stuffed animal (which grants him invincibility).
- 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 him 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.
- Babies Ever After: A terrible, terrible subversion in the worst ending.
- Big "NO!": Fiona, waking up from a nightmare/flashback to the car crash.
- 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.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
: Why in the world is there a chair here? *turns to camera* This is just a normal chair
- This example could just be Fiona looking to see what the chair may be facing, as the chair also happens to be facing towards the camera.
- Canine Companion: Hewie, of course.
- 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?"
- Cloning Blues: Riccardo and Fiona's father, Ugo.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: During normal gameplay, the castle's main gate is locked, forcing Fiona to puzzle her way through the castle in order to escape. But with a New Game+ file, it's possible to get the key from Debilitas, which circumvents 2/3 of the game by allowing Fiona to leave the castle early (Ending "C").
- Creepy Housekeeper: Daniella.
- Cross Over: A white German Shepherd also appears in Resident Evil 4.
- Cursed with Awesome: In Panic Mode, Fiona runs much faster than she does normally, at the expense of becoming a One-Hit-Point Wonder and barely responding to the player's controls.
- Cutscene Incompetence: An affliction everyone (aside from Hewie) suffers throughout the game.
- 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.
- Emotionless Girl: Daniella. Until she catches up to Fiona, anyway.
- Everybody Lives: Ending C. Yes. Even the really vile ones.
- Everyone Is Related
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Springing traps usually means instant (and gruesome) death for Fiona.
- 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 large breasts.
- Fiona even addresses how "tight" her new outfit feels, especially "in the chest area".
- For Want of a Nail: Things are a lot simpler for Fiona in Ending C, where she finds a key to the castle gate much earlier than normal and escapes within the first quarter of the game.
- 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.
- Ghost Lights: Luminescents are blue light orbs.
- Giggling Villain: Daniella does TONS of giggling.
- A Girl and Her Dog
- Girl with Psycho Weapon: Daniella. She chases you with either a shard of glass or a hot fire poker.
- 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.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Fiona in the worst ending. Being raped most certainly didn't help.
- Gorn: Sometimes averted with discretion shots. Otherwise, most of the ways Fiona can be killed are incredibly brutal and gory indeed.
- Gory Discretion Shot: A few of the death traps don't directly show Fiona being killed... 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.
- Holler Button: From "Hewie," to "HEWIE!!" and "Help!!"
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Riccardo invokes this multiple times on Fiona.
- 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.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Lorenzo, who temporarily restores his youth.
- Immodest Orgasm: Daniella. Or at least that's how it seems if she kills Fiona.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Daniella
- Also Fiona if Daniella catches her in the iron maiden.
- Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: In one of the final boss fights, which doubles as both a Death Trap, and as the only means to defeat the boss.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Endless Zero has barely audible, whisper-y vocals which may or may not be just random gibberish.
- 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.
- Jiggle Physics: Fiona's breasts bounce very visibly throughout the game.
- 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.
- Kill the Cutie: Fiona Belli is a beautiful 18 year old girl. Her enemies, however, seek to kill her in extremely brutal ways, and as Fiona is frail, has no fighting skills and no weapon, they can easily kill her in a fight.The way she can die is crushed via a bearhug, stabbed, shot, etc.
- Kill It with Fire: Fiona, with Hewie's help, drops Lorenzo into a pit of lava. He emerges as a flaming skeleton, but finally succumbs to the flames.
- 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).
- Light and Mirrors Puzzle
- 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...
- Mad Scientist: Well, two mad alchemists. Close enough.
- Magical Mystery Doors: Invoked as Lorenzo chases Fiona through a labyrinth of color-coded doors. Take the wrong door out and it's back to the beginning of the maze for Fiona.
- Man on Fire: Lorenzo during the game's final chase sequence.
- Meaningful Name:
- "Debilitas" is Latin for "weakness" or "illness".
- Fiona means "white, fair".
- Hewie and Ugo (Fiona's father) are the diminutive and the Italian variant, respectively, of "Hugh", meaning "heart, mind, spirit".
- Modesty Bedsheet: At first, it's the only "clothing" she has.
- 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-Human Sidekick: Hewie, who doubles as a Pet Interface.
- 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. Also, you lose automatically if Hewie dies (which fortunately, can only happen in the game's highest difficulty setting).
- 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 get on top of Fiona and crush her neck.
- 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.
- Panty Shot: Very rarely, even though Fiona's skirt is very short. It's very likely you'd have to try in order to see her panties, though with all the puzzles and getting chased, you probably either don't have the time or just don't want to.
- 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.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: Daniella.
- Portrait Painting Peephole: Fiona is spied on by Lorenzo through a painting while she changes clothes early on.
- Pretentious Latin Motto:
- All the endings are titled in Latin, and also the game over screen — "Acta est Fabula" — meaning "The drama is over" or "The drama has been acted out".
- The title of the game in Japan is "Demento".
- Psychopathic Manchild: Debilitas.
- 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.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: What many of the Pursuers intend to do to Fiona if they catch her.
- 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.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the endings. It's extremely satisfying after beating the game once.
- 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.
- Soft Glass: Daniella smashes a window with her forehead pretty effortlessly; later on averted in a spectacularly over-the-top fashion when she gets impaled by a shard of glass through the torso.
- Solve the Soup Cans
- 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.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: Riccardo towards Fiona.
- Stripperific: Fiona's "Illegal In Some States" alternate costume.
- Tears of Blood: Daniella cries them. In the intro, anyway.
- Theme Song Reveal: The deciphered lyrics of "Endless Zero" reveal Ayla's fear of the castle, a conversation between her and Ugo, her thirst for immortality, and their fear of Fiona's future.
- Took a Level in Badass: Fiona is scared in pretty much every cutsene in the game (except the ones where she pets Hewie) and looks like she'll start crying every moment. But at the end of the game...
- 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.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Hewie serves as your main weapon rather than an escort that needs your constant protection, but you still need to take good care of him. He can get hurt, and those whimpers will break your heart.
- Violation of Common Sense: One of your hiding places during the second portion of the game is a fully functioning iron maiden. Subverted in that if Daniella finds you, she'll activate it.
- Yandere: Daniella to Fiona.