Quest for Glory IV: Shadows Of Darkness is the fourth game in the Quest for Glory series. Literally moments after his victory in the third game, the hero was teleported away by dark magic. He awakens in a very large, and very strange cave, whose caverns seem to resemble organs or bones, and is littered with skeletons and much worse things. The hero finds his way out of the cave and stumbles upon Katrina, a young woman who is surprised that anything made it out of the cave in one piece. She points him toward the local town where there the hero gradually learns more about the land he has found himself in.The land is called Mordavia, (this time the setting is inspired by Eastern European and Russian folk myths and Gothic imagery) and it was scarred by an old conflict long ago between good and evil. Once a group of deranged cultists who worshiped an Eldritch Abomination called The Dark One attempted to summon it from its natural dimension and into the world. A group led by the paladin Pioytr and the famous sorceress Erana fought against them, and managed to interrupt the ritual. Erana disappeared in the fight, and most but not all of the cult was killed. Shortly afterward, Piotyr also vanished, which caused many to think he had abandoned the land and his responsibilities.Because The Dark One had already been partially summoned, interrupting the ceremony did not get rid of it entirely. Instead it has been lying dormant in the form of the cave the hero appeared in, and its partial presence in the world has been warping the land, turning it into a center of dark magic and evil creatures. Monsters of various kinds haunt the forests and lakes of Mordavia, and swamps filled with The Undead have overgrown the only road out of the valley, effectively cutting off Mordavia from the rest of the world. Although the land and its people have limped on since the battle against the cultists, the people have shut themselves in the town, only daring to leave it in order to work their fields.But suddenly the castle of Mordavia's former ruling family is inhabited again, and unknown to all a new evil force has made its way into the valley to finish the ritual that would unleash The Dark One. The hero will need to use all his might and wits to heal the wounds of the land and discover who brought him to Mordavia, why, and how to save the land and its people. Old foes and new challenges will both be found, and the hero will face his greatest challenge yet...This was the first game of the series with voice acting (including narration by John Rhys-Davies and Jennifer Hale in her first Video Game role as Katrina). The game is often regarded as the best of the series, combining a gripping plot with colorful characters and a pleasant atmosphere. It's also known for being the buggiest. Also a first in the series is an optional strategy mode which let the computer fight for you with predictable results. You can control the level of aggressiveness, defensiveness, magic use and special attack you want.
Actually Pretty Funny: When you tell the Ultimate Joke about the wizard and the farmer's daughter to Ad Avis,(a wizard) he sneers and claims it's not even funny, but begins laughing uncontrollably after another second.
Alchemy Is Magic: Zigzagged. Mad Scientist Dr. Cranium is a firm non-believer in magic, but he often describes his scientific experiments in alchemical terms, refers to "life energy" at certain points, and provides the hero with healing and poison cure potions that work as well as the less explicitly-scientific alternatives seen in previous games.
Artificial Stupidity: The strategy mode which let the computer control fight for you. The AI does well against some monsters, but terribly bad against others, such as Chernovy Wizards. Your hero will insist on jumping over their spells and never succeed no matter how high your skills are.
Bag of Spilling: Lampshaded by the Narrator: "In what country did your luggage end up in THIS time?" You never see any of your equipment again (except for the Paladin's sword, and that's in the next game), and have to get replacements for everything but your armor.
Batman Gambit: Ad Avis uses this to kill Katrina by manipulating her feelings for the main character. He also fails badly at an earlier one: after capturing you, he chains you up in brittle chains and leaves a stake and mallet directly in front of you, allegedly to "taunt you with your ineffectualness." When you inevitably escape, the only way out leads you directly into Katrina's chambers. While you have the option to kill her (which in turn kills you) it's fairly obvious that this is a setup.
Big "NO!": Nicolai's wife Anna, upon finding out that she is undead and has been dead for a long time.
Bittersweet Ending: More than any other game in the series. There are very few victories for the Hero that don't come at a steep cost:
The Dark One is forever banished from the world, and Erana is freed. Unfortunately, Erana is dead and freeing her only allows her to move on to the afterlife.
Ad Avis is destroyed for good, but at the cost of Katrina's unlife when she is tricked into sacrificing herself out of her love for the Hero.
Tanya is reunited with her parents, but to do so her best friend and confidant, Toby, sacrifices himself at Erana's staff to restore her to life.
Nikolai and Anna are together again. But only after the Hero discovers Anna's ghost wandering the forest, and they are only reunited in death.
For the Paladin, the spirits of the Rusalka and Piotyr are finally laid to rest. The Rusalka, who was murdered by her unfaithful lover, particularly laments how she hoped all her life for a man like the Hero as she passes on.
Black Comedy: Some of Igor's "graveyard humor" falls under this.
Dark Is Not Evil: Toby is this giant, furry, hulking, red-eyed, fanged, ill-tempered monstrosity. However, he's just protective of his ward to the point where he will sacrifice himself to bring her back to life. He's like a hulking, red-eyed Chewbacca.
Arguably Katrina. Whatever her actions may be, she never truly comes across as evil, or stops being a sympathetic character. As opposed to her Dragon, Ad Avis.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: The villagers, since they don't know you from Adam. You have to earn their respect. It certainly doesn't help that you tell them that you walked out of the cursed cave that has been the bane of their existence for a generation. A cave that has been closed for at least that long. A cave that quite literally bodes no good.
Eldritch Location: The Dark One's Cave. It actually IS the Dark One, in a state of partial summoning.
Equivalent Exchange: The "final spell" of Erana's staff requires one to give their life to return someone else to life. The Paladin Player knows he's expected to offer his, as is the Paladin's way. But no matter the class, Toby volunteers to resurrect Tanya.
Even Evil Has Standards: While Baba Yaga loves dark magic and is certainly plenty evil herself, Bonehead remarks in conversation that the Cult trying to summon a Dark One into the world is too evil even for her.
Katrina could easily have mind-controlled the Hero into helping her from the start, however it's only after he angers her by rescuing Tanya and returning her to her rightful parents that she takes an active hand and forces him to assist her with a geas. She specifically tells Ad Avis, who objects to her letting the Hero go about freely, that she doesn't want him to be a puppet, but to help and love her by his own free will. Furthermore, when Ad Avis attacks the Hero in the climax Katrina steps in to defend him and attacks Ad Avis in turn. It's really saying something about Ad Avis that the one who's seeking to release a friggen' Eldritch Abomination into the world is the one with standards.
The Fair Folk: The wizard hero will have to fight off a few who want to claim Erana's staff from him.
Freudian Excuse: Katrina's not a bad person, she's just really lonely. Just ignore the part where she'll doom the world by bringing forth an Eldritch Abomination to blanket the world in darkness to let vampires reign supreme.
Geas: Katrina place one on the Hero. You have three days to find the missing Dark One's rituals or you'll "suffer".
Gag Dub: Of a sort. In the voice-acted version of the game, the spoken dialogue does not always match the text; The voice actors often ad-lib their lines in comedic ways. Hans, Franz and Ivan do this the most.
While arguably one of the best games in the series, Shadows of Darkness suffered from numerous bugs that would crash the game at important points. This wasn't fixed when rereleased in an anthology, even.
The floppy version had a particularly terrible bug for the Thief: after completing all the various quests, the beginning of the endgame is contigent on a particular note showing up in your room at the inn. For the Thief, and only the Thief, that note would never, ever show up if you missed one very easy to miss and normally completely optional sequence.
Probably the most ridiculous one: it's possible to have the Big Bad kill you during the finale... after you've already killed him.
Gone Horribly Right: As a result of the attempt to complete the summoning of the Dark One, Katrina obtained "all of the darkness she so desired... and much, much more."
Gossipy Hens: Hans, Franz, and Ivan, the three farmers who hang out at the Inn at night, despite their staunch denial of spreading rumors. Olga Stovich is less in denial about it, but she's more of a one-woman gossip depository.
Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Magda is described as an older but still attractive woman, and after a few good deeds she talks a little about how she'd pursue the hero if only she was about twenty years younger.
It's unclear just how old Katrina actually is, but Ad Avis has served her for the better part of a century and she still looks like she's 20-something. And once she takes off her cloak and hood...
Heel-Face Turn: The Rusalka. Initially she tries to drown you because, well, that's what Rusalki do; she doesn't particularly want to, but she's compelled to seduce men and drown them. Giving her flowers convinces her that you're a nice guy, and jump-starts the sidequest that results in her being allowed to move on to the afterlife, unfortunately, the Paladin is the only class who can help her.
Katrina sacrifices her un-life for you during the Endgame when Ad Avis tries to kill you, revealing that she truly does love you.
Identical Grandson: The Paladin Piotyr looks identical to his grandson, Dmitri the Burgomeister. Only the latter has a longer beard.
It's a Wonderful Failure: Getting killed by Ad Avis after the Dark One is summoned treats the player to the sight of the Dark One bursting out of the mountain like in the vision the hero had to get the blood ritual scroll.
Lopsided Dichotomy: When the hero is surrounded by the thankful people of the land after completing yet another heroic quest, cue Erasmus and Fenrus taking that moment to scry on the hero, with Fenrus commenting:
Money for Nothing: The other games in the series suffer from this, but none more so than Shadows of Darkness; you will only ever need money for two things: Room and board at the inn (1 crown for a week) and various items from the General Store that only cost about 10 crowns total. You can also spend crowns on (optional) tarot readings (to a maximum of four), but that only costs you one crown per reading. And for the record, one of the first things you do in this game is loot a couple of bodies for about 15 crowns.
Moon Logic Puzzle: So, Bonehead wants a hat before he'll let you talk to Baba Yaga? Better find Nikolai's ghost wife, let him wander into the dangerous forest after her, and find him dead and also a ghost so you can take his ghostly(?) hat!
Moral Dissonance: Parodied. If the player is a Paladin, he'll refuse to smash open a cabinet containing healing potions because it's wrong to destroy other people's property. Thing is, the cabinet's in a monastery formerly used by a cult worshipping an Eldritch Abomination, and the narrator mentions your character will happily torch the place if he gets the chance (in fact, you get honor if you do torch the place!) Capped off with a line like, "Nice consistency of belief there, eh?"
No Honor Among Thieves: Quite literally; a Thief character can kill the Chief Thief after restoring his human form, but doing so immediately knocks your Honor rating down to 0.
Noodle Implements: The Ultimate Joke, whom we are only told involves a wizard and a farmer's daughter, will make even a Big Bad vampire villain bend over in laughter. It's further explained that the joke works only once.
Only Smart People May Pass: A literal example at Dr. Cranium's house. "Entry by prior appointment or demonstration of superior intelligence only."
Point of No Return: Returning to Katrina's castle after gathering the ritual scrolls takes you back into the cave at the start of the game for the endgame, with the entrance shutting behind you.
To a lesser extent, answering Ad Avis' forged note ends with the player getting geassed and forced to collect the ritual scrolls in three days, severely limiting anything else the player plans on doing in the meantime.
Politically Incorrect Villain - While he's a bit low-key about it, Ad Avis never seemed to like women. 50 years of service to Katrina (Or 70, depending on whom you ask) and being forced to serve her in death has probably done little to improve his disposition toward them.
Reading Is Cool Aesop: Katrina, Tanya, and Bella give us this message indirectly; Katrina had taught Tanya to read and write while Tanya was at Castle Borgov, and when Tanya came back to the town she taught her mother Bella to read and write as well; apparently they plan to teach every woman in Mordavia to read and write, which is regarded as a good thing and a big break from tradition.
Reasonable Authority Figure: Dmitri is hostile and untrusting of the hero when he first arrives, but when Igor goes missing and everyone is quick to blame gypsy werewolves, he refuses to believe in the rumors and tries to get everyone to settle down until they find out what actually happened.
Restored My Faith In Humanity: The Paladin can do this for Dmitri by returning Piotyr's sword to him; until then, Dmitri doesn't really believe in heroes and paladins.
Sacrificial Revival Spell: Erana's staff has the power to exchange the life of one person for that of someone they love. Toby ultimately uses it to resurrect Tanya.
Two of the three townspeople who hang out at the inn every day are doing Jack Nicholson impressions (the third is doing a Rodney Dangerfield impression instead.)
Skepticism Failure: Dr.Cranium does not believe in magic, only science. Despite he lives in a world with Wizards, Genies, Witches, Gypsies who can turn themselves into wolves, to name only a few.
Though justified Mordavia has been cut off from the rest of the world for almost three generations, the Gypsy/wolf fact is spread around as an urban legend, and he really doesn't seem to get out of the house much regardless anyway.
Star-Crossed Lovers: The Player and Erana, in some cases (having magical ability helps; so does having high Honor and not being a Thief.) While you two never met, your immense goodness resonates with hers so much that even despite being dead she falls for you. Doubly so if you are a Paladin. The climax of a number of dreams (see Dream Sequence above.)
Katrina as well. It's revealed over the course of the game that she genuinely does love the hero, and depending on the dialog options they select, the player can take the angle that he loves her as well. And then she sacrifices her un-life to save you from Ad Avis at the end.
Unfinished Business: The Rusalka is forced to haunt the lake and kill people because she was drowned by an unfaithful lover; to release her spirit you have to tell her her real name and avenge her death by calling up the spirit of her murderer and delivering some holy justice.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The two goons that were guarding Katrina's castle. Since the ending ceremony take place in the great hall of the castle and everyone was present except them, one can wonder what were their final fate.
The Rusalka can come across this way, if you're playing any class other than paladin. In those games, there's no way to end the Rusalka's curse or definitely find out her backstory (although one might be able to piece it together by reading a couple of the epitaphs in the graveyard), things you'd normally expect in a game like this. All she does if you're the thief, wizard, or fighter is, after warming up to you, give you clues about where to find an important item. For what it's worth, the Rusalka doesn't seem all that upset about her un-life...
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Quite high, it seems. When Igor, the hunch-backed gravedigger, goes missing, the townspeople worry about him and are prepared to lay the death sentence on a captured gypsy they think is responsible. Finding Igor and saving him is the first act that gets them to start warming up to you.
What the Hell, Hero?: Punny Bones scolds the hero for being indirectly responsible for the loss of his humor, and Katrina chews him out for kidnapping Tanya and killing Toby.