Videogame: Dark Tales

Just follow this guy.
Dark Tales is a series of hidden object games created by ERS Game Studios and distributed by Big Fish Games. Based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the games allow you to play the role of friend and colleague to the master detective C. Auguste Dupin, and assist him as he travels throughout France solving mysteries based on Poe's works. Originally released solely for PC, most of the series is now also available for iOS devices.

  • In the first game, Murders in the Rue Morgue, a horrific murder has been uncovered in the Rue Morgue. The player character meets Dupin for the first time, and becomes his partner to solve both the murder and the disappearance of the victim's sister.
  • In the second game, The Black Cat, you and Dupin must solve the disappearance of Mark Davies' wife Sarah. The investigation takes you throughout their estate, a puzzle- and contraption-filled mansion once owned by an illusionist. As the case progresses, the ghostly figures of Sarah Davies and a black cat seem to be following along.
  • In the third game, The Premature Burial, you and Dupin are summoned to help a despondent young man, Julien, whose true love Victorine was wed to banker Renelle Fore against her will. Victorine died very suddenly, and Fore had her buried so quickly that no one was able to pay their respects. Julien suspects something is very wrong - and it's up to you to figure out what.
  • In the fourth game, The Gold Bug, Dupin receives a letter from his dear friend William LeGrand, who has uncovered clues regarding Captain Kidd's treasure. However, there are mysterious figures standing between him and the lost pirate loot, and he needs you and Dupin to help him crack the clues.
  • In the fifth game, The Masque of the Red Death, Dupin receives a letter requesting his help in the city of Lumineaux, where you join him. A man with a bright red mask is killing off city officials, and it's believed that Mayor Prospero will be the next target. The people of the city are angry with Prospero, who has ruled with an iron fist for several years. The real question is, who is the most guilty and who will be the one who will face justice when the time comes?
  • In the sixth game, The Fall of the House of Usher, Dupin receives a letter from one Dr. Morris regarding the curse of the Usher twins Roderick and Madeleine and their esteemed manor. Madeleine is missing, and her brother's failing health suggests that both twins' lives could be in danger. But the truth about the Usher family curse is much darker than anyone could imagine...
  • The seventh adventure, The Mystery of Marie Roget, features Dupin assisting his friend Jacques Lumin, who has recently married a lovely girl named Marie Roget. But ever since the wedding, strange things have been happening in their home - unearthly screams and weeping, glass objects shattering for no reason - and Marie herself is distracted and upset. What secret are she and her aunt hiding?

An eighth Dark Tales mystery is currently in the works, as teased by the developers on their Facebook page.

In addition to the main series, Big Fish Games and ERS Studios have released Nightfall: An Edgar Allan Poe Mystery, a Freemium game which also features Dupin. Create an avatar for yourself and join his new detective agency, completing hidden object puzzles to solve mysteries in Paris.
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    Tropes Present Throughout the Series 

The Dark Tales provide examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Starting with Masque of the Red Death, the collector's editions of the games offer various achievements to be unlocked which are a way of measuring this.
  • Adaptation Expansion/Pragmatic Adaptation: It varies from one game to the next how much is changed, but each of the stories featured are altered in some way by the developers to make them playable. The original game in the series pretty much follows the plot of Poe's story, with only a few small changes to the story. From the second game onward, larger changes have been made to the stories to make them longer and more detailed.
  • Adventure Duo: You and Dupin become this.
  • Anachronism Stew: The games take place in France during the mid-19th century. But you find toy pandas in Masque of the Red Death; pandas were not yet known in Europe at that time. In House of Usher, you encounter a modern drum set and helium balloons, and the player character makes a few references to Sherlock Holmes - who debuted in A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887 (more than ten years after the game's events).
    • It's not stated when the stories take place, but if they are set in the years Poe wrote them, then the six-cylinder breech-loading cartridge revolver seen in The Gold Bug, Masque of the Red Death, and The Mystery of Marie Roget should not exist yet. The first-ever cartridge revolver was not manufactured by Smith & Wesson until 1856, seven years after Poe's death.
    • In Nightfall, there are airships that will fly across the map on occasion. They're of the steampunk variety.
  • Art Evolution: Compare Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Black Cat to the later games and you see a huge difference.
    • Somewhat subverted for House of Usher. In the opening animation, Dupin is rendered in three-dimensional CG, but his appearance in the actual gameplay reverts to that of previous installments in the series. However, he has gone back to being the mostly non-moving figure he was in the first two games, as opposed to the other games where his mouth moves while he talks. He returns to being more fully animated in Marie Roget.
    • Very much averted when it comes to Dupin's sprites in-game, for the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh games. He got a whole new sprite set for each game for the first three games, but after Premature Burial no large sprite changes have been made, although on occasion a new sprite has been created when necessary such as when Dupin gets shot in Masque of the Red Death. Dupin's sprites from The Gold Bug on is a combination of the sprites from the second and third games. The second game's sprite has black hair and no textures (though one was added later to make it more consistent), the third game's sprite has brown hair and a texture on the jacket that is subtle but fairly noticeable. Since Dupin's dialogue has been cut a great deal in the fourth through sixth games, his sprites show up less often and mainly in cut scenes, so it can be difficult to spot; the second game sprites are the ones where he faces you directly, and the third game ones usually are quarter view or three-quarters view.
  • Ascended Extra: Dupin, who only appeared in three of Poe's stories (Murders in the Rue Morgue was his debut), has been in all seven cases so far.
    • Dupin also counts as a Canon Foreigner in the stories that he didn't originally appear.
  • Big Bad: Varies from story to story. Special note goes to Masque of the Red Death, where you have to be the one to decide whether Mayor Prospero or the Red Masque is more deserving of the title.
  • Bigger Bad: You'll only learn about them if you play the bonus chapters of the collector's editions, but several of the games have The Man Behind the Man pulling the strings in one way or another.
    • In The Black Cat, the Davies' mansion was previously owned by a famous illusionist. A rival magician, with whom he had a well-known feud going, sent him a painting as a reconciliation gift. The painting actually had a terrible dark spell on it which drove the illusionist mad, and later drove Mark Davies to murder his wife.
    • In The Premature Burial, the cemetery's Crusty Caretaker is revealed to be the one who persuaded Renelle Fore to murder his wives.
    • In Masque of the Red Death, it turns out that Jacques Morro is playing both Prospero and the Red Masque for chumps so he can become the new Mayor of Lumineaux.
    • In House of Usher, the real villain is the very stone from which the titular house was constructed!
  • Canon Foreigner: This happens quite a bit in the games, probably due to the fact that Poe's stories usually had a minimal amount of people and locations in them.
    • In the original story of the first game, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Madamoiselle L'Espanaye did not have a son named Eric.
    • In the second game, The Black Cat, there was no illusionist. Which means the evil painting is the item version of a Canon Foreigner as well.
    • In the third game. Premature Burial, everyone is a Canon Foreigner, since the game is more of an "inspired by" version than a "based on the actual story" version.
    • In the fourth game, The Gold Bug, the villains in the main game and the bonus chapter never existed.
    • In the fifth game, The Masque of the Red Death, of the named characters only Prospero is original to the story.
    • In the sixth game, The Fall of the House of Usher, Estelle and the doctor never appeared. The unnamed town that the Usher estate lies near is also not in the original story, so all of the townspeople also never appeared.
    • In the seventh game, The Mystery of Marie Roget, Lola Saunie never appeared in the original, nor did the unnamed lighthouse keeper. The rest of the cast appear in some form or another in the original story, though their relationships to Marie are changed; Gaius is obviously based on the "naval officer" Poe mentioned, while LeBlanc is changed from shop owner to theater owner.
  • Continuity Nod: The player character's office in Masque of the Red Death has a wall of plaques, four of which are dedicated to the previous games of the series.
    • The first journal entry for The Black Cat refers to the player character's adventures in Murders in the Rue Morgue.
    • Pluto, the titular Black Cat, returns in House of Usher, although this is never remarked upon by either Dupin or the player character. There's also a statue of a dog that, when given life, resembles a Newfoundland like Arthur in The Gold Bug. A red mask like the ones from The Red Masque shows up as part of a puzzle.
    • Pluto also shows up very briefly in Marie's room in The Mystery of Marie Roget, running out of her closet. If you look closely, you can see his ruby eye.
    • Pluto also shows up in Nightfall; he's in one of the loading screens being held by Dupin. He also shows up as a living cat in the gambling hall, reclining on the piano. His ruby eye, which should be his right, is shown here on his left, but the name tags he wears show that it is indeed him. Considering how often he's been showing up lately in stories where he never appeared, ERS may be making him into their Series Mascot.
  • Distress Ball: Usually averted, but Dupin occasionally picks this up, such as when he's tied up in the climax of Gold Bug and shot in the chest in the bonus chapter of Masque of the Red Death. He picks it up twice in House of Usher, once during the main game and once in the bonus chapter.
    • Dupin's assistant Anna in Nightfall picks it up in the timed quest where Dupin gets injured by a thug. Dupin comments at the end of the quest that you should go back and comfort Anna. It would make more sense if Anna called the police to handle it instead of you if you're playing as a female.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two games, and the first one especially, are very different from those which followed. For some reason, the sixth game is something of a return to their format, at least as far as the lack of animation is concerned.
  • Extended Gameplay: Found in the collector's edition of each game. The extra gameplay of Rue Morgue is merely a miniature adventure in Poe's own home, and has nothing to do with the main story. But starting with The Black Cat, each game has a Playable Epilogue - a continuation of the main story, revealing additional details.
    • House of Usher adds further extended gameplay in the form of a completely unrelated case which Dupin wants the player character to solve, requiring the acquisition of various equipment.
    • Marie Roget does the same in the form of a puzzle that can only be unlocked by getting all of the achievement award trophies.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The player character is never seen, has no dialogue wheel, and is only ever addressed as "detective" (or, by Dupin, as "my friend"; though in Masque of the Red Death he calls you "detective" twice). Some characters' comments in Murders in the Rue Morgue suggest that the player character may be male (Dupin calls you "sir" at the start of the game, others will address you and Dupin as "gentlemen"), but the developers elected to take a more gender-neutral approach to the rest of the series. The only other description is a passing comment in Premature Burial about coats getting dirty.
    • In The Black Cat, when the player character and Dupin are standing just within the Davis' estate in the very beginning of the game, the player's silhouette that shows up when the lightning flashes is of a woman in a long cloak. When cut scenes of the boat travelling across the lake play, there is only one figure in the boat, curiously enough—the figure is hard to make out, but looks to be male and is probably Dupin.
    • In the bonus chapter for The Gold Bug, Dupin and the player character's shadows are shown when standing in the junk shop. The shadow next to Dupin is very clearly female. She's wearing a dress, and breasts can be seen in the partial profile.
    • In the player character's study in House of Usher, there is a painting of two figures. One is clearly Dupin; the other, whose facial features are left considerably less distinct, is almost certainly intended to be the player character. If so, then the player character is female - although the face can't be clearly seen, the character is very plainly attired in a 19th century lady's dress, complete with hat and handbag.
    • The idea that the player character in the main games is female is supported by Nightfall. After entering your name and selecting a gender, you meet Anna Flers, who introduces herself to you as Dupin's assistant. Such an introduction suggests that she may well be the player character of the main Dark Tales games, though this has yet to be confirmed or denied by ERS.
      • However, in Nightfall, one of the items you can buy for your office is a picture of a man with Dupin. The man is what you would look like if you selected "male" as your gender and were wearing a particular set of clothes that can be bought in-game. There is no female version of this picture, and there is no portrait of Anna or Anna with Dupin, either.
    • The bonus game of Marie Roget has a character addressing Dupin and the player character as "Gentlemen" and "guys", so it's unclear if the character has been male all along or if the developers simply haven't made up their minds.
      • Also noticeable is when Dupin hands you the letter to read at the beginning, the hands and arms that hold the letter look to be clad like a male wearing leather gloves and a wool overcoat over a white shirt. There's also a puzzle that involves putting together a fishing rod. One of the things the player character says if you make a mistake is, "Guess I haven't been fishing since I was a boy." So the player is meant to be male in this game, at least.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The opening animation of each game is slightly spoiler-laden, although the game must be played through to the end to find out exactly what happened and why.
  • Friend to All Children/Friend to All Living Things: The player character seems to be this, as we see numerous instances of you being kind to children and various animals.
    • You even get to adopt a kitten in Masque of the Red Death. It serves no purpose gameplay wise.
    • You also get to collect items for a fish tank in Marie Roget. It doesn't serve any purpose other than as part of a collection quest.
  • Gratuitous French: Well, the games are mostly set in France. The vast majority of the dialogue is in English, though, which makes the instances where French does get spoken seem like this trope. Possibly the best example is in House of Usher and Marie Roget where, if you attempt to use an object in a way not intended by the developers, the player character will say "Mon Dieu, can I be wrong?"
    • ''Nightfall' has a little more of this, with Dupin addressing the player as "mon ami" and exclaiming "Magnifique!" when a particular quest is completed.
  • Great Detective/Gentleman Detective: Dupin.
  • Hidden Object Game: Most of the puzzles, especially in the early games, are of this type. The later games in the series have a wider variety of puzzles, but still plenty of hidden object scenes. House of Usher adds a new twist in which, if a hidden object puzzle is proving too difficult, you can replace it with a match-three style of game instead. Nightfall is almost nothing but this type of puzzle, with only a few other kinds thrown in occasionally for variety.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: If you try to use an object in any way but the one intended by the devs, your character will comment on it.
  • In-Game Novel: Not exactly, but close. The collector's editions of most of the games will allow you to save copies of Poe's original stories to your hard drive.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Some of the puzzles in earlier installments can make the player feel like this is what they're supposed to use. Almost none of the puzzles in Murders in the Rue Morgue have any instructions about how to solve them, leading to a bit of Try Everything.
  • It's Up to You: Dupin is the hero, but you're the one doing all the work. One diary entry in The Gold Bug lampshades how the player character has do everything. Dupin notes that "we" must cut the shrubs in order to clear the path forward, and the diary snarks in response:
    But I must say that by we, I'm certain that he's most likely referring to me.
  • Late to the Tragedy: You and Dupin only get involved with a situation after something terrible has already occurred. Justified because you are detectives, not psychics.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Each game is available in a Vanilla Edition and also one of these, which include bonus gameplay, screensavers, concept art, and other additional content.
  • Loading Screen: In the main series, you see one of these when you first open the game. The title appears, along with some flickering candles, an open book, and a skull. A flash of lightning illuminates the title.
    • Nightfall has two initial loading screens. One features Dupin, Anna Flers, and one other character in the game; the second is the standard loading screen for the paid-for games. An in-between scenes loading screen features what look to be watch gears spinning around in the center of a black screen.
  • Locked Door: Often, and you have to find the keys. Occasionally, you even have to make them.
    • This gets weird in The Gold Bug, in which you have to unlock two shops that already have shop workers inside them. There's no indication the shops are closed for business and the men working there don't tell you this either; if they want customers to come in, their shops shouldn't be locked!
    • Gets weirder still in Marie Roget; when Jacques leaves his home, he locks the two of you inside. It would make better sense for him to leave the door open and have you lock it when you leave.
  • Mr. Fanservice: C. Auguste Dupin, as depicted in these games, is a handsome man in roughly his thirties, with blue eyes, flowing black or dark brown hair, stylish dress sense and a nice physique.
    • ERS even played with this when they announced how Dupin would have his shirt removed in Masque Of The Red Death, as they knew the fans would have a field day. Of course, they didn't mention why his shirt would be removed - see below.
  • Nice Hat: Dupin wears an elegant top hat from The Black Cat onward.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Naturally, given that it's animation, but there are some blatant examples of animal cruelty in these stories. The titular Black Cat was killed by the abusive Big Bad of that game, and it's hinted the cat's missing eye is also his doing. The villain of The Gold Bug starts the game by throwing a puppy in the river. Luckily, he misses and the dog lands in a boat.
  • No Fourth Wall: Dupin looks at and speaks directly to you. Granted, the idea is that you are supposed to be a character in the game, but the result is still this trope.
    • Some characters in the games seem to be addressing both Dupin and the player, such as the hansom cab driver in the first game. From the third game on, it's made more clear when people are talking mainly to Dupin; some characters still seem to be addressing both the player and Dupin, though.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Most of the games all take place in different regions of France, but you'd never know it by the voice acting. This is especially glaring in Marie Roget, where some of the voice actors mispronounce the names of characters; Dupin refers to his friend Jacques as "Jack," and Jacques in turn calls Auguste Dupin "August."note 
  • Notice This: Important puzzles and objects glint subtly to catch your attention on the easier difficulty modes.
    • However, unimportant or unusuable objects sometimes have the same glow. In The Black Cat, there's a chicken that has a glowing light above it; clicking on it results in a cut scene with the chicken, but it's not important to the story, the chicken just ends up back in the same place after the cutscene is over, and the chicken doesn't prevent the player from accessing the hidden object scene in the same area. In The Premature Burial, the hook in the ceiling of Julien's room glints with the same light, but there's no way to even use the hook for anything.
  • Occult Detective: Both played straight and averted. Roughly half of the mysteries that you and Dupin solve together have some sort of supernatural connection, frequently ghosts.
    • That's because many of the stories the games are based on are ghost stories. For the most part, the creators are remaining true to the stories. So far, the only stories turned into ghost stories that weren't originally occult tales are The Premature Burial (Poe's original was meant to be a comedy of sorts) and The Mystery of Marie Roget.
  • Once an Episode: Starting with The Premature Burial, each game opens with Dupin beginning to read a letter regarding the case in question. In Marie Roget, he gives the letter to you for you to read yourself.
  • Out Of Character Is Serious Business: Dupin remains calm throughout most situations. Even after being shot in the bonus chapter of Masque of Red Death, he's still patient and gentlemanly to the core. But twice in House of Usher (once in the main game, once in the bonus chapter), he becomes trapped and you must rescue him. In both instances he is quite clearly angry, and while his anger is understandable, it's still a rather jarring departure from the suave gentility of the previous games.
    • Dupin is written fairly differently for The House of Usher in comparison to all the other games, as he sounds completely irritated when speaking to you. After the player character faints in the cemetery, Dupin doesn't even ask if you're all right like he did in similar situations in the other games. He doesn't even greet you in the usual manner at the beginning of the game—instead of "It's good to see you, my friend", all he says is "Ah, it's you". This is also the first time Dupin ever swears.
  • Overly Long Title: Each game's full title is Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's [Title of the Story]. Because of the length of their original titles, several of the games are particularly strong examples of this trope. Averted somewhat by Nightfall, probably because it isn't part of the main series.
  • Pixel Hunt: The iPhone and iPad versions of the games sometimes come across this way, as they are very insistent that you touch exactly the right spot on the screen.
  • Precision F-Strike: The player character usually says "damn" when angered. Most notable is in the bonus chapter of Masque of Red Death, when "that damned Morro" fires his gun at Dupin and wounds him.
    • Dupin himself does this in House of Usher, when he mentions how "those damn vines" snapped his favorite cane when he was captured.
    • Swearing in the games falls under Anachronism Stew as well, since it wasn't considered polite to swear in the 1800's, and was considered especially rude when done by women or in front of women. Writers of this time period even wrote "damn" as "d—m" or "d—-" in their stories so as not to offend people.
  • Protagonist Without A Past: You meet Dupin when you decide to investigate the chilling murder in the Rue Morgue, but it's never explained why you decide to do that in the first place.
    • He seems to have been expecting you, though.
  • The Reveal: Pretty much necessary to the plots of the games, since these are detective tales and the truth is often hidden by the villains.
  • Scenery Porn: There are beautifully rendered backgrounds in each game.
    • Scenery Gorn: However, there's also some of this to be found.
  • Ship Tease: There's a little of this between Dupin and the player character. He begins almost every case by remarking how happy he is to see you, he often boasts to other NPCs about your skills, and one piece of dialogue in Murders in the Rue Morgue has him suggesting that he take you to dinner at the fancy restaurant you're exploring.
    Dupin: Your presence gladdens me as always, my friend.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Many of the puzzles which aren't hidden object scenes are of this type, especially with regards to unlocking doors and otherwise removing barriers; it's simply not something you'd normally encounter in Real Life.
    • The Black Cat does at least give an in-game explanation that makes the puzzles plausible. The mansion you're investigating once belonged to an illusionist who was a huge puzzle enthusiast, so he incorporated weird tricks and contraptions throughout his home.
    • The diary in Murders in the Rue Morgue notes that Dupin is fond of ciphers and puzzles, so it wouldn't be completely out of character for his house to have the puzzles you are required to solve in the beginning. It's still amusing that he uses them as a test for your character, though.
  • Strategy Guide: These can be purchased and downloaded for each game; they come included in the collector's editions.
  • Suddenly Voiced: All of the dialogue in the first two games appears only written onscreen. Starting in The Premature Burial, however, the characters have voice acting.
  • Take Your Time: No matter what the games say about you needing to hurry up, there's no penalty for taking your sweet time in any situation. This is perhaps most egregious in the bonus chapter of Masque of the Red Death; first you must escape from a burning room, but the fire never actually gets any closer. Later, you have to run around to find medical supplies to save Dupin's life after he gets shot, without any ill effects no matter how long it takes.
  • Trespassing Hero: Averted—especially by the first two games—for the most part, which is unusual in games of this type. Dupin and the player character are usually invited to the initial investigation scene by either the homeowner, a concerned individual, or the police—only the first game averts this, as Dupin reads about the crime in the paper and decides to investigate with no invitation. When entering a new residence or business outside of the initial area, Dupin will ask the owner's permission to conduct an investigation. However, Dupin isn't above conducting an investigation when the owner isn't home, as he does in the salon and windmill lodge areas of the first game; this is one of the few times in the first two games when the trope is played straight. Starting in Premature Burial, Dupin's manners start slipping, partially due to having more locations per game with a smaller cast of characters; his lines per game are also being cut, though, to the point that he comments only rarely in The Fall of the House of Usher. Dupin enters locked shops and semi-private places (such as hotel rooms in The Gold Bug) without asking permission, though usually after finding a key; occasionally a lock is picked or destroyed by acid, or a building is entered through an opened window. He only notes that you two are trespassing when on Renelle's property. In Masque of the Red Death, you and Dupin break a window to get into a bakery; though it's been abandoned, it's still breaking and entering in addition to trespassing, and Dupin says nothing about it. Walking into private offices and what appear to be private places occurs quite frequently; it's interesting to note that the one time that you actually knock on someone's door you get a gun pointed at you (but it's the mayor being paranoid). In The Fall of the House of Usher Roderick gives permission for Madeleine's room to be searched without being asked, and Jacques in Marie Roget does the same with Marie and his mother's rooms. The theater owner also does the same with Lola's room. Dupin and the player are actually called out on this by the theater owner and Madame Roget.
  • Voiceover Letter: As noted above, most of the games begin with Dupin reading a letter which invites him to help solve the current case; as he reads, the letter writer usually provides a voiceover of the letter's contents.
  • The Watson: You! Although as the player you're the one doing all the real legwork, you still play this role to Dupin's Mr. Exposition.
    • May be flipped in House of Usher, where Dupin still provides exposition, but your first diary entry starts with the words "My assistant and I..." On the other hand, this could still be the trope played straight; since (unlike in previous games) the diary never mentions him by name, it's entirely possible that Dupin is writing the diary this time.
  • Watsonian Versus Doylist: The games generally take a decidedly Watsonian view of things, with Dupin and the player character being actively involved in the stories as they unfold. However, House of Usher puts a Doylist spin on the matter by bringing Poe himself into the game and making reference to his works in a few puzzles.
  • Younger Than They Look: Nightfall states that Dupin's age is actually 24. He certainly doesn't look like it in any of the games, most people assumed his age to be in the thirties.

    Murders in the Rue Morgue 

Murders in the Rue Morgue provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Madamoiselle L'Espanaye. In the original story, she was murdered with her mother and stuffed up the chimney, here she was rescued from her mother/sister's place and is found alive. (In the game, Madamoiselle is stated to be Madame's sister in the jail but her daughter at the docks).
  • Big Fancy House: Dupin lives in a rather stately home in Paris, as seen in this game.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Pluto, the cat from the next game The Black Cat appears in the bonus chapter. He's missing his ruby eye, though, but the book on a table and the extras sneak peek at the next game's concept art suggests strongly it's him. The concept art misspells his name on his tags as Pluton. Doubles as a Production Foreshadowing.
  • Empathic Environment: The weather starts out on a dark, cold and rainy night up until the point when the crime scene is being investigated. From there on the weather starts to clear up as the investigation moves forward to its conclusion, ending with day breaking at the final scenes.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Takes a more Real Life approach to this trope than the usual humorous one; the gorilla is the one that killed Madame L'Espanaye after it got loose from its cage and ran amok in the city.
  • Eye Take: An animal version of this occurs in the hidden object scene in front of the gorilla's cage. It's either hilarious or disturbing, or maybe both.
  • Fortune Teller: The laundress says this is what the murder victim did for a living.
  • Gender Flip: All of the witnesses in Poe's original story were male; the laundress in the game is the only gender-flipped witness.
  • Goodies in the Toilets: Seen in the bonus chapter; one of the missing pieces of the grandfather clock is inside the not-very-clean toilet. Try not to think about it too much.
    • At least it's in the tank and not the toilet itself; you can even get it without getting your hands too wet.
  • Infant Immortality: While Madame L'Espanaye was being murdered, Eric L'Espanaye escaped being killed by hiding under the stairs. The murderer did go down the stairs but didn't see him, luckily.
  • In Vino Veritas: The restaurant owner is reluctant to tell you what he knows about the murder until you loosen his lips with a glass of wine.
  • Killer Gorilla: Quite literally, this is the murderer of the story. Poe's story had an orangutan instead. The story also explains that the ape committed the murders accidentally because it misinterpreted the women's reactions to it; the game doesn't go into the same detail as the story.
  • Missing Mom: The victim's sister/daughter has a small son who is despondent over his mother's disappearance. She turns up okay in the end and they have a happy reunion.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Invoked deliberately by Dupin himself. When you turn up to help him solve the murder, he makes you first solve a series of puzzles in and around his home. These puzzles have nothing to do with the case at hand - he just wants to make sure you're going to be able to keep up with him!
  • Pimped-Out Dress: According to the laundress, the murder victim's wardrobe was chiefly made up of these. When you find her missing sister/daughter, she's wearing one such dress.
  • Police Are Useless: This seems to be Dupin's opinion. He remarks that the officials will go through the motions, but rarely exert any imagination or special effort.
  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: The gorilla is referred to as a monkey in-game. However, there are people that would argue that gorillas are apes, not monkeys. See the trope page for the full argument.
  • Torture Cellar: The locked prison cell in the gendarmie is revealed to be this.
  • Weather Dissonance: It's pouring rain throughout most of the game... and a luminescent full moon is visible in the sky at the same time.
    • This is actually possible; it can rain and still show the sun or moon through gaps in the clouds. This is rather improbable for long periods of time, however. The weather in this game is more of an Empathic Environment, as the rain stops and the sun rises towards the end of the game.
  • What Happened To The Evidence?: The pipette that you give to the doctor in Madame L'Espanaye's house that's filled with blood. You never get the doctor's test results back as to whose blood it was, or why it was important to the case.

    The Black Cat 

The Black Cat provides examples of:

  • Animal Motif: A number of the puzzles involve animal images of one type or another.
    • Mark Davies is shown carrying a snake-headed cane in the ending. While this could at first be seen to symbolize the fact that he's an evil man who callously abused his wife and pets and murdered his wife in cold blood, there is a second meaning—his mind has been poisoned by the evil painting seen in the bonus chapter.
  • Artistic License Animal Care: Replacing a cat's missing eye with a ruby is a bad idea. For starters, getting it in would be almost impossible, as many cats would squirm or fight before they'd let anyone do something like that, even a beloved owner. The cut gem can still cut or irritate the eye socket, leading the cat to dig or scratch it out; the eye socket could also become infected or gangrenous. Modern veterinarians will sew the eyelids shut instead.
  • Asshole Victim: Mark Davies. He abused his wife and Pluto. He knows his wife is dead but reports her missing instead. When Dupin and the player arrive at his house, he is initially hostile and defensive. When confronted with the crime, he's still hostile and very unapologetic. The bonus chapter reveals that Mark isn't really like this and was being possessed by an evil painting, but it's still hard to feel sorry for the guy.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mark Davies. You find out what drove him crazy in the bonus chapter. The opening cinematic shows him murdering Sarah with an axe.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Despite the fact that her body was found, Sarah Davies' spirit is still not able to cross over into the afterlife because of the demonic painting; finding the painting and releasing the trapped figures within it is the plot of the bonus chapter.
  • Big Fancy House: The entire game takes place on the grounds of a massive estate which includes one of these.
  • Clucking Funny: There's a chicken standing by the side of the house that makes a cut scene play when you click on it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Pluto is a black cat; black cats in Western society (and mentioned in Poe's story) were thought to be witches' familiars and were associated with black magic. While Pluto is oddly intelligent for a cat, he is incredibly loyal to Sarah and helpful towards the detectives; he even assists them in their investigation and in helping to put Sarah's spirit to rest.
  • Dead All Along: Sarah and Pluto. Dupin remarks very early on that Sarah is deceased and that you're searching for her body; much later he notes that Pluto also must be deceased, which is proven to be the case when Sarah's body is finally found.
  • Die, Carriage! Die!: In order to get to the boathouse, a carriage blocking the way needs to be blown up.
  • Domestic Abuse: Eventually revealed to be part of the game's backstory.
  • Follow The Black Cat: Pluto seems to be leading the detectives around the estate, and following him in several areas will point to, and subsequently unlock, other areas that need to be explored. Dupin even lampshades the fact that Pluto obviously wants the detectives to follow him.
  • Ghostly Goals: A character wants the mysterious circumstances of her death explained.
    • Pluto also leads Dupin and the player character around the estate as if pointing out places they need to go in order to solve the mystery. In the bonus chapter he is there as well, encouraging the detectives to find the painting and set his and Sarah's spirits free.
  • Go Into the Light: Finishing the bonus chapter allows Sarah and Pluto's spirits to do this.
  • Kick The Cat: Pluto's missing eye is the result of Mark Davies' animal abuse; a letter in the lake gazebo that was written by Sarah notes that Mark had been abusing their pets. Mark may have even buried Pluto alive in the wall where he put his wife's corpse; when Pluto is shown atop her corpse, he is practically skin and bones (a marked contrast to his appearance throughout the rest of the game), indicating he starved to death while in the wall.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: There's one in the wine cellar; it also involves glasses filled with wine.
  • Meaningful Name: Pluto. Named after the Roman god of the dead. He's dead, of course. His loyalty to his owner is similar to mythical Pluto's faithfulness towards his wife, Persephone. Underworld deities are often associated with dark magic and mystery as well.
  • Pixel Hunt: The Black Cat is probably the worst offender of this sort in the series to date. Some of the items in the hidden object scenes are dimly lit, partially concealed behind other items, very small, and/or strangely shaped.
  • Plot Lock: The main game places one of these on the east wing of the mansion house by having it be so badly damaged as to be unsafe to enter. In the bonus chapter of the collector's edition, the lock is removed, with the wing being magically restored; Dupin even comments on it. The demonic painting is hanging in this wing.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Pluto, the eponymous cat, has one red eye. It's actually a ruby that replaces a missing eye. The cat himself is not evil, but his missing eye is an early warning of the fact that things in the Davies household aren't quite right.
  • Red Herring: Seen when you repair the telescope and take a good look at the lake, only to spot what may be the body of the missing lady. It turns out to be a mannequin.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mark Davies. A painting of him and his wife from a few years earlier show the two being happily married. The letter at the gazebo at the center of the lake indicates that Mark had started drinking heavily and had been abusing his wife and pets. He eventually murders his wife. The bonus game reveals the true reason for Mark's actions being the influence of an evil painting.
  • Spooky Painting:
    • One of the hidden object scenes features a painting of the missing Sarah Davies. The eyes of the painting follow your computer cursor around the screen, and occasionally blink.
    • There is a picture of a black cat in the bonus chapter that has eyes that will follow the mouse cursor around as well.
    • In the illusionist's room, there is a poster of him where the eyes will suddenly glow yellow for a split second before returning to normal.
    • The trope is taken Up to Eleven in the bonus chapter, where you discover that a demonic painting is responsible for Sarah being murdered by her husband, and also for the home's previous owner having disappeared, most likely after he went insane.
  • Stealth Pun: There is a newspaper clipping that states the illusionist that received the painting "suddenly disappeared". Making themselves, other people, and objects disappear is what magicians do best...
  • Timmy in a Well: Pluto displays an unusual amount of intelligence for a feline, deceased or otherwise. He seems to know who the detectives are and why they're there, and he deliberately leads them to and around the estate, opening up several areas for the detectives to explore. Dupin even comments on the fact that Pluto is leading them around. In the bonus chapter, he does the same thing in order to help the detectives put Sarah's soul to rest. Pluto also signals the fact that the painting is evil by hissing at it, just in case its evilness wasn't apparent by the way it looked.
  • Together in Death: Sarah and Pluto. Both were buried together inside the wall. At the beginning of the game eyewitnesses claim to have seen Sarah with Pluto, and Dupin and the player initially see Sarah with Pluto from outside the house. Throughout the course of the game, the two are frequently shown together. In the bonus chapter, Sarah and Pluto walk into the light together.
  • Undying Loyalty: Pluto, to Sarah. Not only does he assist the detectives in finding his owner's body, he's completely unwilling to move on to the afterlife without her. The bonus chapter states that neighbors can hear a cat howling, which is one of the reasons why the detectives investigate the house once more.
  • What Happened To The Illusionist and Mark Davies?: The illusionist in-game is said to have just disappeared; there is no explanation as to whether he is still alive or dead. The painting at the end is shown to release the figures of Mark and Sarah Davies and the illusionist; Sarah obviously moved on to the next life, but the illusionist isn't seen. Mark is still alive, so what effect did releasing him from the painting have?

    The Premature Burial 

The Premature Burial provides examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Julien and Victorine were in love with each other, but Victorine's family did not approve of this and instead decided she would marry Renelle, even though she didn't want to and neither she nor Renelle were in love with each other.
  • Asshole Victim: Renelle Fore. His deceased wife kills him and he does deserve it, but the reason why she kills him is because the cemetery caretaker has made sure that any ghostly revenge enacted by Renelle's deceased wives will fall on Renelle instead of him. The caretaker is the one that masterminded the plan to begin with, and he even did research to help him avoid Louise's vengeance; Renelle may have never thought of murdering rich women himself otherwise. It's impossible to feel sorry for Renelle, though, as he did kill his wives willingly.
  • The Bluebeard: Renelle Fore. He is the rare version of this trope that murders his wives out of greed.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: [[Louise Fore. Killing Renelle for revenge is what helps her to pass on; unfortunately, she doesn't realize that the real mastermind avoided her revenge entirely.]]
  • Buried Alive: As hinted by the title.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The caretaker, when it comes to vengeful ghosts! This is why he had Renelle bury his wives alive; the ghosts would enact their revenge on the one that directly killed them, not on the person that came up with the Evil Plan in the first place.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Unsurprisingly, one of the main settings.
  • Cry Cute: Victorine is weeping when you find her still alive in the crypt, and it only makes her look that much more beautiful.
  • Darker and Edgier: Poe's story of The Premature Burial was pretty much a spoof of the Buried Alive stories. The game has Dupin and the protagonist meet up with a ghost swearing revenge and the mystery involving the deaths of Renelle Fore's wives.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Louise Fore, the ghost that appears at the beginning of the game, has black hair and wears a dress that is mostly black. She causes the carriage to crash in the opening cinematic when she scares the horses, but nobody seems to be injured by it; she seems to have done this mainly to get the detectives' attention and not because she was out to harm them. Even though she's quite angry, she never threatens the detectives; her anger is rightfully directed towards the person that killed her. Unfortunately, killing Renelle makes Victorine's rescue more difficult, as he dies before revealing where Victorine was buried; Louise has no way of knowing this because being dead doesn't make you psychic, and Renelle probably wouldn't have said anything anyway, instead he would have had the detectives arrested for trespassing. In the bonus chapter, it turns out that your presence is what made Louise manifest in the first place; so she has no reason to want to harm you.
  • Dead All Along: Played straight and subverted. Victorine is still alive inside the crypt, but Fore's previous wife Louise is definitely dead.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The caretaker. He's the one who came up with the whole scheme to bury catalyptic women alive in the first place. Suspicion never falls on him in the main game at all, and it's not until the bonus chapter that he's revealed. The fact that, as the caretaker of the graveyard he's the one that would have been one of the first to notice that Renelle was burying his wives very quickly and quietly, that he'd buried three of them this way, and that the caretaker had never mentioned this to anyone or tipped off the police are all early signs that he was in on it from the beginning. You get more specific proof of his guilt in the bonus chapter.
  • Evil Plan: The caretaker's plan that he proposed to Renelle was to get a list of wealthy women with catalepsy, marry one of them, deliberately distress her enough to put her into a catalyptic state, have her declared dead, and then bury her before she woke up in order to inherit her wealth.
  • Faux Death: As the game progresses, you learn that Victorine was diagnosed with catalepsy, a medical condition which causes the sufferer to enter a rigor mortis-like state easily mistaken for death (at least in Poe's time). Her husband's previous wives had the same thing. It's the specific reason he married them.
  • Greed: What motivates Renelle to kill the women he marries. Presumably it's the caretaker's motivation as well, but there's no evidence of Renelle sharing the wealth with him; you only find trophy items in the caretaker's hut but no large amounts of money. The caretaker may have it elsewhere or even buried it, however.
  • Ghostly Goals/Unfinished Business: A character wants the mysterious circumstances of her death explained. She also wants revenge.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: There are 33 roses that are scattered throughout the various scenes of the main game. You can collect them as you go or run around and get them all at the end, but they are needed to create the final Plot Coupon.
  • Happily Ever After: Suggested by the ending, as Julien and Victorine can finally be together.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Victorine hears spooky noises when she's locked in the crypt; when she's freed, she tells Dupin about them. This is what leads to your Solo Sequence in the bonus chapter. Although you never hear the sounds yourself, it's easy to assume that they're being made by Renelle's first wife, Laura.
  • In Name Only: This is the only game so far that has a plot that was nothing like the original story. Justified in that the original story was a comedy and not a mystery, but Poe wrote other Buried Alive stories that were much more serious and could have been adapted just as easily—one which eventually was, The Fall of the House of Usher.
  • Lack of Empathy: Victorine notes in her letters to Julien that Renelle is completely unsympathetic towards her; she states that his attitude is making her catalepsy worse and that he doesn't care about her illness. Averted by a note in the pharmacist's office where the pharmacist notes that Renelle was in making inquiries about his wife's disease, and remarks that Renelle is "a caring man". Too bad the pharmacist is wrong.
  • Interrupted Suicide: You and Dupin arrive at Julien's shabby apartment just in time to stop him from hanging himself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Played straight when Louise kills Renelle. Averted when the bonus chapter reveals that the caretaker was the true mastermind; he learned that a ghost would only take vengeance on the person directly responsible for their death, not the one that came up with the plan to kill them in the first place. As a result, he's able to avoid Renelle's fate at Louise's hands, a fate that should have been his as well. It's up to the player instead to deliver this to the caretaker.
  • Marry for Love: Julien and Victorine are engaged by the end of the game; it's a given that this is what they'll be doing in the near future.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Renelle killed Louise by burying her alive; Louise's spirit takes revenge on Renelle by killing him in return.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Renelle as the rich suitor and Julien as the poor one. This is a rare case of the rich suitor winning, but it's not because he's a nice guy or because Victorine truly loves him; it's because Victorine's relatives force her to marry him.
  • Rule of Three: Seen in the bonus chapter. The main game implies that Victorine is Fore's second wife and victim; the vengeful ghost seen throughout the game is that of his previous bride, Louise. But the bonus chapter reveals that Victorine was actually his third wife - he also killed his first wife, Laura!
    • Also seen in a puzzle in Renelle's room; the hint given for the puzzle is that "(item needed to solve puzzle) always comes in threes".
  • Secret Underground Passage: It's how you get to Victorine to free her. Another one is present in the bonus chapter and is connected to Renelle's room.
  • Solo Sequence: Although Dupin is right there with you most of the time (even though you can't usually see him), you get one of these in the bonus chapter. He takes the victims to make a full statement to the police, and leaves you to do the remaining sleuthing in the crypt.
  • Something About a Rose: As noted above, you have to collect 33 roses to create the final Plot Coupon.
  • Unable To Support A Wife: Julien is a writer and a poor man. This is most likely the reason why Victorine's family refused to allow him to marry her. Still in play by the ending, but Victorine doesn't care; she says she'll support both of them with her inheritance instead.
  • Uptown Girl: Victorine is a wealthy woman in love with a poor writer, Julien. Her family didn't approve.
  • Western Zodiac: One puzzle has the player connect the dots to create six constellations of the zodiac.
  • Whip It Good: You wield a whip during part of the bonus chapter. The player character uses it on the caretaker to defeat him.
  • You Have to Burn the Web: Part of navigating the underground tunnels.
    • One of the hidden object scenes requires you to do this to find an item on the list.

    The Gold Bug 

The Gold Bug provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: In the original story, LeGrand had an African manservant named Jupiter, who informed the narrator of LeGrand's suspect mental state and was necessary for the completion of the quest to find Kidd's treasure. He's obviously been removed for the game's story because such a character would be deemed offensive.
  • Ascended Extra: Arthur, the Newfoundland. In the original tale, he's named Wolf and is mentioned in passing when he gives LeGrand an insight as he jumps on the narrator. In the game, Arthur is used to sniff out clues and the game cannot be completed without his help.
  • Blinded by the Light: How you defeat the villain.
  • Foreshadowing: There's a dress in one of the hotel rooms. No, it's not the veiled woman's room, it's the concierge's room. Neither Dupin nor the player character comment on it; the concierge later admits to being the veiled woman.
  • Demoted to Extra: The titular gold bug. In the original story, this creature had the mark of a death's head on its back, which was important to LeGrand's interpretation of the cryptic instructions and his search for the treasure. Here a gold bug was merely left with the un-decrypted first message to catch his interest; it doesn't show up again after this.
  • Gold Fever: The diary notes that LeGrand seems to have a form of this, being obsessed with the discovery of Captain Kidd's lost treasure, but also notes that he seems harmless nevertheless.
  • Heroic Dog: Arthur the Newfoundland, who is used to sniff out clues. He also helps to subdue the villain at the end.
    • Precious Puppy: Arthur's companion and possibly his son, whom you save in the beginning of the game.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The villain is practically within arm's reach of LeGrand when he fires his pistol... and he still misses. He acknowledges later that he's a terrible shot.
  • Kick the Dog: At the beginning of the game, the villain attempts to throw a bag into the water. If he had succeeded, he would have drowned a Newfoundland puppy.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Gold Bug is arguably lighter than the other Dark Tales. Justified in that it's based on a treasure hunt rather than one of Poe's horror stories (The Black Cat, Masque of the Red Death and House of Usher), parodies (Premature Burial), or mysteries (Murders in the Rue Morgue).
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: The Big Bad finally realizes that he's not going to be able to solve the mystery surrounding Captain Kidd's treasure, so he just waits and follows you and Dupin.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The villain hides behind a mask.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The white cactus fish needed to save LeGrand. Lampshaded by the guy who gives it to you.
  • Pet Interface: Arthur the Newfoundland is your canine companion in this game, and an exceptionally intelligent one at that. Examples of his intellect include using a hat as a makeshift nest for chicks, and figuring out that the detectives can use fireflies as a light source for a lantern.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The sound effects for hints and one of the music scores are both from the Maestro series that ERS Games produces. The game published after The Gold Bug was the third Maestro game, Music From the Void.
  • Red Herring: One of the suspects appears to have all the evidence stacked against him, until you actually examine it. Mike the gardener has a wound on his hand from using pruners, but his blood sample doesn't match that left behind by the perpetrator. Mike also works part-time at the gunsmith, but he wasn't the one who fired the shot.
    • The concierge is also the veiled woman; he claims to have done this to mislead you and Dupin down the wrong trail. Since he didn't actually know you were coming or who you were until later, presumably he did this to throw off anyone who would be investigating either LeGrand's death or the theft of the treasure once LeGrand found it.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Dupin is particularly keen to have you with him on this adventure because of your renowned skills in codebreaking and deciphering. These skills were not mentioned in the previous games.
    • Remember all those messages you had to decrypt? They were the instructions on how to find the treasure. LeGrand is never shown as ever having actually figured out what these decrypted messages mean, yet once you reach the tree with the skull on it at the end of the game, he suddenly knows exactly where the treasure is buried. Only somewhat justified in that he's been researching Captain Kidd for years; he still couldn't have figured out where the treasure was without interpreting those messages, which in the original story took LeGrand months.
  • Timmy in a Well: Arthur is a little bit too intelligent for a dog. While dogs can smell better than humans, when the detectives find the veil, Arthur makes a beeline to a hidden cache in the woman's room. However, the woman's scent would have been all over the room. Not even justified when it's revealed the villain was also the veiled woman, as the veil should have attracted Arthur towards the concierge's room instead; the source of the scent would have been far stronger in there. Modern-day cadaver dogs can sniff scents through cement and rubble, so Arthur should have easily smelled the scent through wood walls. Arthur also uses a lamp to find fireflies; the lamp hasn't been used in at least a hundred years or so, and was most likely only used with candles or oil. Any insect scents would have long worn off. Arthur's unerring accuracy is also unrealistic; while dogs are used to scent out people or items all the time, they do give false positives. Furthermore, Newfoundlands are not known for their scent detecting abilities and were never used as hunting dogs; their natural ability is in water rescue and they were used to pull fish nets and haul carts in the 1800's.
  • Took a Shortcut: When you and Dupin are about to uncover Captain Kidd's treasure, LeGrand shows up literally from out of nowhere, declaring that he's fully recovered (he had been poisoned) and eager to join you on the final leg of the search. The trope comes in when you realize that you had to take a boat to get to where you are, and yours is the only boat tied up on the shore... so how did he get there?!
    • Happens again in the junk seller's shop and on the island. You have to unlock the main door yourself; when you enter, LeGrand is already inside. This is justified because the junk shop actually does have a back door, but how LeGrand accessed it isn't possible for the detectives and the path he took is never accessible. At the island, no one can pass to get to the tree before an obstacle is removed. Not only does LeGrand get there before you, but he's already figured out where the treasure is buried. (In the original story, actually finding the treasure at the treasure site takes at least several hours.)
  • The Unreveal: The villain is not identified by name, leading a number of players to post in the forums that they didn't know who he was supposed to be. It's the concierge from the hotel - who is also never given a name. Not quite a Stranger Behind the Mask, since he is seen previously, but about as close as you can get to the trope without actually achieving it.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: The concierge admits that he's also the veiled lady; he claims to have done this to throw you and Dupin off the track.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Seen in the bonus chapter of the collector's edition. The only reason Mike steals the treasure is to pay for an expensive medical treatment for his mother.
  • Western Zodiac: One puzzle requires all twelve signs of said zodiac to be placed in order.

    Masque of the Red Death 

Masque of the Red Death provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the short story Masque of the Red Death, Prospero was a prince who held a masquerade ball for wealthy guests while trying to avoid the Red Death; he ignores the suffering of the poorer classes but isn't responsible for the plague that's killing them. In the game, he's a Mayor Pain who is directly responsible for the suffering of the townsfolk.
  • Addressing the Player: In most of the games, you enter your name at the beginning (to create the save profile) and it's never seen again. However, in the collector's edition of this game, you visit your private office which is decorated with documents related to the previous games in the series, all of which have your name on them (even if you've never played any of the other games). There's also a personalized 'autograph' from Dupin to "my best friend."
  • Ascended Extra: In the original story, the man in the red mask only appeared at the very end of the story and was a ghostly representative of the plague, not an actual person. Here he's an actual person who has a much bigger role as a political activist and assassin.
    • Not really a person, but the townspeople as a whole play a more important role than they did in the original. They're mentioned briefly in Poe's story as being afflicted by the plague; Prospero walls himself and his guests into his estate in order to avoid them. In the game, they're much more vocal in their disapproval of the mayor and of Morro at the end of the bonus chapter.
  • Beary Friendly: You encounter a bear who helps you by knocking apples down from a tree.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: In the beginning of the bonus chapter.
  • Big Fancy House: Mayor Prospero's home, forming a stark contrast with the dwellings of most of Lumineaux's other residents.
    • In the bonus chapter, Morro's house turns out to be a castle.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Red Masque is shown to have one of these in a cutscene.
  • Bragging Rights Award/Cosmetic Award: What your personal office eventually becomes filled with as you unlock the various achievements.
  • Call Back: The player character finds a message stating that animals have escaped from the zoo. Near the end of the game, one of these - a lion cub - appears in Mayor Prospero's mansion.
    • Even earlier, the detectives run into a crocodile—the exact same crocodile that's pictured on the poster, no less!
  • Central Theme: Justice
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The dachshund seen in the beginning of the game is used to chase rats away. It returns at the very end to scare away the lion cub - see Call Back, above - in the manor.
    • The old woman for whom you bake bread is only there to state how much of a jerk Mayor Prospero is. She ends up having a major role in the bonus chapter. She's Jacques Morro's mother, and she saw that her son was faking his death and was teaming up with the Red Masque.
  • Cute Kitten: The player adopts one and can collect items for the kitty to play with. The cat doesn't play any role in the story, he's just an extra feature.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Jacques Morro has a sweet little daughter who loves him very much. It makes him being the Bigger Bad in the bonus chapter all the more unsettling.
  • Exact Words: As noted above, ERS Games stated ahead of time that Dupin would have his shirt removed in the bonus chapter of this game. What they did not say was that this would happen when he gets shot in the chest by Jacques Morro and the player character has to bandage him. Fortunately, the bullet doesn't reach his heart and the shirt is only removed up to the left arm and chest.
  • First Person Snapshooter: One of the achievements you can unlock in the collector's edition is to take photographs of every scene you encounter. It also has a useful function, in that you can jump directly to a scene you've photographed by opening the map portion of your diary and clicking on the picture.
  • Foreshadowing: The guard you meet early on mentions that he has a sister. You meet up with him again as the first Red Masque because his sister, Amelia Durand, is sent to jail and he goes to free her.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: In the collector's edition, some of the achievements you can unlock in your private office are of this nature.
  • Heroic Dog: The player finds a dachshund to use as an inventory item; see Call Back, above.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Rene Durand. He actually states in a note in the bonus chapter that he thinks Morro would be a better choice for town mayor; this is his motivation for making a deal with Morro and helping him fake his death in the main game. What he doesn't seem to know is that Morro overstepped his authority when he ordered executions; he was only authorized to make arrests by Prospero. Morro's own mother also left her son's home when she got fed up by his lust for power; Rene doesn't seem to have ever talked to her about Morro.
  • I Am Spartacus: The crowd at the end of the bonus chapter does this in a non-verbal manner. When Morro tries to claim that Dupin is the Masque when Dupin drops the fliers showing his guilt on the crowd, the crowd responds by throwing red masks in the air—indicating that all of them are the Masque.
  • Implausible Deniability: The ending scene of the bonus chapter has Jacques Morro exclaiming that he wasn't responsible for the crimes he committed or for faking his own death. The crowd doesn't buy it.
  • Lighter and Softer: Especially compared to its source material. The game revolves not around a plague, but rather a vigilante with a red mask trying to take justice in his own hands against Mayor Prospero.
    • The theme of a rich person completely ignoring the suffering of the poor but eventually getting their comeuppance is still the same, though.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: The Red Masque combines this with In the Hood.
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Prospero.
    • Somewhat subverted in the bonus chapter. He was set up by Officer Rene Durand and police officer Jacques Morro, and it's never stated whether Prospero was really as evil as he seemed to be. The illegal executions that Morro performed were probably blamed on Prospero instead; Morro only had the authority to arrest people, not execute them, and Prospero failed to make sure that Morro wasn't overstepping his authority. Prospero was still a lousy mayor, though.
  • Meaningful Name: Lumineaux, the setting for the game, is French for 'Light'.
    • Prospero is Latin for "fortunate" or "prosperous". While the townsfolk aren't doing very well financially, Prospero himself most certainly is and he even has his own Treasure Room.
  • Milestone Celebration: In-universe. The game begins on the ten-year anniversary of Mayor Prospero's rule over Lumineaux.
  • Multiple Endings: You can arrest either Mayor Prospero or the Red Masque. It ends with one sent to jail and the innocent party walking out of the courthouse. Of course, as the bonus chapter in the collector's edition shows, it doesn't make that much of a difference.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: In one puzzle, the player character finds two panda toys as part of a painting... in 19th century France.
  • Produce Pelting: In the beginning, there are villagers throwing eggs at a fountain of Mayor Prospero.
  • Properly Paranoid: When you knock on Mayor Prospero's office door and then open it, you find him pointing a gun at you. While he is justified because the Red Masque is targeting government officials for death, it's highly doubtful an assassin would announce himself by knocking on the door first.
  • Red Herring: The first Red Masque is Perenn, the town guard. He disguises himself as the Red Masque to free the prisoners (one of them being his sister), but he isn't the one who killed the town officials.
  • Shirtless Scene: The dashing Dupin gets a partial one in the bonus chapter. How and why he has one is another thing altogether. See Exact Words, above.
  • So Proud of You: Almost all of the awards hanging above your fireplace in the trophy room are from Dupin and express how much he appreciates your help in the four previous cases.
  • Tarot Motifs: Justice plays a prominent role. You obtain a set of scales hung by a woman in a blindfold, and a puzzle involves rearranging some books so the spines create the woman in the tarot card.
  • Treasure Room: Mayor Prospero has a hidden one in his office. It contains a Booby Trap in the form of an axe. Dupin makes a remark about both.
  • Torture Cellar: It's implied that one of the prison cells is this, although it's not actually shown.
  • Western Zodiac: One puzzle has a chest with a combination based on three zodiac symbols.
  • Wham Shot: A drop of blood landing on Dupin's glove after Jacques Morro fires his gun.

    The Fall of the House of Usher 

The Fall of the House of Usher provides examples of:

  • The Ageless: Estelle. She looks to be in her twenties when a picture of her with the Usher twins as babies is found; she still looks the same age now that the twins are grown up. In the bonus chapter, it's shown she's been alive since Henry Usher lived, as it's him in the Viking garb in the drawings..
  • Always Identical Twins: A rare aversion of this trope in that the two characters Roderick and Madeleine are fraternal twins.
  • Big Fancy House: The eponymous house was probably this originally, but by the time of the game is apparently on the verge of collapse; the bonus chapter shows a few other houses in the nearby village which fit the trope too.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Usher twins have a bizarre connection which causes them to feel one another's pain - if something physically happens to one, it will happen to the other too. They are also incapable of leaving their estate, as the disease makes them too tired to travel far.
    • This was introduced by the game, as in Poe's story Roderick is shown to have a premonition about his sister only once in his life; it can be interpreted there as more of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy than actual Twin Telepathy.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The First Person Snapshooter activity from Masque is brought back. However, whereas in Masque it serves a useful function (forming an interactive map enabling fast travel), it's almost completely pointless in Usher; it does nothing except create a photo album in the player character's personal study. Many players complained about this in the forums.
  • Bragging Rights Award/Cosmetic Award: As in the previous game, your personal study becomes filled with these as you unlock the various achievements. However, this time there are no personalized documents noting your prior successes.
  • Buried Alive: Most likely included as a nod to the original work, the missing Madeleine Usher is sealed alive inside a stone tomb.
  • Collection Sidequest: One of the achievements in your personal study can only be unlocked by collecting all of the gold coins concealed inside dollhouses which are hidden throughout the scenes of the game; these are then spent to allow you to collect all of the necessary scientific equipment to solve an extras case, which will unlock the achievement.
  • Continuity Nod: Pluto, the titular animal from The Black Cat, returns in this game and is seen wandering around the Usher estate. Unlike in his own game, however, he doesn't interact with the detectives at all and is of virtually no use in solving the mystery. He's also alive in this game, not a ghost, as Estelle is shown holding him several times.
    • A Newfoundland that looks like Arthur is also seen early on, but the dog simply runs off without joining you.
  • Creator Cameo: In the Creepy Cemetery of the game, there's a statue of Edgar Allan Poe that comes to life and quotes a few lines from The Raven.
    • The museum also has a pedestal dedicated to Poe; it contains a puzzle that has to be solved.
    • A third puzzle in the library has you put Poe's short stories in order.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: The doctor's office has one and it's part of a puzzle.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original story of House of Usher was already pretty creepy, but the game dials it Up to Eleven with the addition of the house demanding blood sacrifices from the Ushers.
  • Dead Man Writing: A section of your diary keeps track of the photographs you find from the previous detective that investigated the Ushers. It also keeps track of what was written on the back of each photograph, which turns out to be a message from the dead detective detailing the curse of the house of Usher.
  • Deal with the Devil: The villain has more or less made one of these. Estelle agrees to keep supplying the bloodthirsty house with other sacrifices in return for Roderick and Madeleine's continued health; as members of the Usher family, one of them would traditionally be the house's next victim.
  • Death by Childbirth: Marianna Usher, the mother of twins Roderick and Madeleine, is noted to have died giving birth to them. No mention is made of their father, and they apparently have been brought up by a Parental Substitute, the housekeeper Estelle.
  • Doom Magnet: Dr. Morris's observations on the Usher twins and their curse suggests that they could be considered this. The bonus chapter explains that a cursed stone found by their ancestor, Henry Usher, was the real doom magnet.
  • Downer Ending/Everybody's Dead, Dave: Implied by the main story's ending. When the evil mechanism which lets the house devour the living is destroyed, Roderick and Madeleine vanish into thin air. Dupin saves Dr. Morris, but Estelle is crushed by falling rocks. However, the bonus chapter reveals her to still be alive, and the evil which powered the Usher house is still killing people throughout the village - including Dr. Morris. Estelle is Killed Off for Real when the evil is destroyed, leaving Dupin and the player character as the only apparent survivors of the story.
  • Fainting: The player character's initial reaction to seeing the violent ghost in the graveyard is this.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Seen in the bonus chapter, where it almost kills Dupin.
  • First Person Snapshooter: As noted under Bonus Feature Failure, this optional activity makes a return, but with no useful purpose.
  • Geometric Magic: One of the puzzles require you to make a leather pouch for a potion that has a magical geometric symbol on it; the potion has no effect without it. An unusual version of this, as it's made on an object and not drawn on the ground, and it's also made with thread.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The trope is utilized extensively; in addition to the Collection Sidequest noted above, the player must collect potion ingredients, crafting components, and photographs which are inserted into the scenery to make certain objects available for interaction.
  • Greek Mythology: Charon, the Greek ferryman of the dead, blocks the entrance to the cemetery.
  • The Life Draining Mechanism Has Eyes: And lots of them.
  • Heel-Face Turn: In the main game, Estelle tries to block your investigation several times and threatens the doctor in exchange for the swords needed to destroy the casket for the sacrifices. She shows up in the bonus game asking the detectives for help in stopping the estate from draining the people's life forces in town. Her turn is probably motivated by the fact that there are no more Ushers for her to serve any longer.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Roderick, what with the pale skin and bags under his eyes. Justified considering the nightmare in which he's trapped; when Madeleine is seen later, she isn't much better.
    • The twins are stated in the beginning of the game to have some kind of disease in addition to their Twin Telepathy. The effects of the disease could be part of the explanation why they look the way they do. The other explanation is that, because one of them was supposed to be a sacrifice to the house, the house is deliberately draining their life energy in order to get one of them to fulfill that role, which also forces Estelle to find new victims constantly.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The titular house, which demands human sacrifices. The bonus chapter of the game indicates that other houses in the area become afflicted in the same manner because they were made out of the same stone as the Usher estate.
  • Perspective Magic: Seems to be utilized in this game, since some of the items you gather should logically be too large or too small for the uses to which they are put. For example, the cymbal from a large modern drum set is given to a wind-up toy monkey that realistically should have been much smaller than the cymbal itself, yet is able to hold it perfectly well in one hand.
  • Pet Interface: You acquire a mouse and train it to retrieve small objects for you.
  • Plot Lock: The game places one of these on the house's library. You can get the key to unlock the door, but are then thwarted in your attempt to enter anyway.
    • The plot lock is removed much later in the game, when you find an alternative way into the library. Estelle doesn't want you to go into the library because it contains the Secret Underground Passage to the sacrifice area.
  • Production Foreshadowing: In the forensic mini-game, two of the suspects are characters seen in A Wealth of Betrayal, which is a game in the Grim Facade series also produced by ERS. A Wealth of Betrayal would be the next ERS game released.
  • Properly Paranoid: The residents of the village founded by Henry Usher have long been suspicious of the members of the Usher family, especially when some of their neighbors start disappearing.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The player unleashes a benevolent spirit called "The Reborn One," who is able to give life to statues.
  • Secret Underground Passage: How you and Dupin access the last few areas of the game.
  • Saving the World: At the end of the cut scene in the cemetery, Dupin has a line in which he says this. It doesn't make any sense, though, as you're still searching for Madeleine at that point. It still doesn't make any sense by the ending in the context of this game or any other; you've never solved a mystery that threatened the entire world; at most it was a town, and here it's still just a village you end up saving.
  • Shared Mass Hallucination: When you and he witness a group of apparent specters, Dupin outright asks whether it was a shared hallucination.
  • Shout-Out: When you first see him, Roderick sings a line from Poe's The Haunted Palace. Fitting, considering the circumstances. It's a nod to the original; Roderick in Poe's tale also does the same thing when meeting the narrator.
  • Taken for Granite: Inverted; the Reborn One has the power to turn statues into living, sentient creatures.
    • Played straight when you actually first find them, however. Some of them even need to be repaired or moved before you can restore them to life.
  • Temporal Paradox: Implied by one puzzle, although it appears to have no negative effect on the heroes; they don't even seem to notice that something's weird. The puzzle requires you to arrange five of Poe's stories according to the years in which they were published. One of the stories in question is The Fall of the House of Usher, the events of which are going on around you.
  • Twin Telepathy: Roderick and Madeleine Usher have a form of this; see Blessed with Suck, above.
  • Useless Item: A non-weapon variant. The inventory panel includes the presence of a small rat who engages in various vaguely distracting activities such as eating sunflower seeds and falling off his perch. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and you cannot interact with it in any way.
  • Weather Dissonance: Just like in Murders, the moon is seen in the sky despite the presence of an ongoing thunderstorm.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The villain. Estelle goes to some crazy lengths, mainly sacrificing the lives of innocent villagers and outsiders, in order to keep her beloved Roderick and Madeleine alive.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Literally. When you use your trained mouse to distract the cat, they both disappear and are never seen again. Quite possibly, we don't really want to know what happened to the mouse.
    • It's implied by the animation that the mouse somehow scared the cat, which was definitely not a realistic reaction on the cat's part.
  • Woman in Black: Estelle wears a black dress.

     The Mystery of Marie Roget 
  • Adapted Out: A number of witnesses to Marie's movements on the day of her death as recorded by Poe are written out of this adaptation. Justified in that the story was adapted as a ghost tale instead of a Real Life crime and also that no one in the game knows that Lola is not Marie, and therefore they don't know that a missing person's movements need to be reconstructed.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The fire in the theater.
  • Animal Motif: There's a strong presence of animals and animal imagery in this game, including owls, sharks, ravens, spiders, and more.
  • Ascended Extra: Marie Roget. In the original story she's talked about but never appears at all; Dupin's entire analysis of her murder is done through newspaper reports. Here her ghost makes a significant appearance and is much more important to the plot.
    • Gaius also has a much larger role here than he did in the story; there he was not named and only mentioned in passing as being a companion of Marie, here he's the villain and the definite murderer of Marie.
    • LeBlanc was also only mentioned in passing in Poe's tale as the owner of the store where Marie worked. Here he is a theater owner and prominent witness and has more plot significance.
    • Madame Roget was Marie's mother in the original, and mentioned in passing as the one that reported Marie missing. Here her role has been expanded in having greater significance because Gaius has also been threatening her and possibly trying to blackmail her as well; her will becomes evidence in the case, and she's also necessary for her niece Marie to pass on to the afterlife, especially in the bonus chapter where she is kidnapped; it turns out that Lola is her daughter as well.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Marie Roget. She can't rest because she was buried under another person's name. She also wants revenge on Gaius for murdering her. As it turns out, Madame Roget also has to forgive Marie for running away from home to marry Gaius before she can move on to the afterlife.
  • Blackmail: The sailor Gaius is an expert at this. He's blackmailing "Marie" because he knows that she's really Lola Saunie. He knows this because he murdered the real Marie!
  • Bearer of Bad News: You and Dupin. The two of you have to take a letter and Marie's necklace to Madame Roget and inform her of Marie's death at the end of the game.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Although there really isn't any gore in this game, it has much more blood than any of the previous installments. Most of the instances of blood are just visual effects created by the ghost, who wants to scare people into paying attention; blood pours from a fountain at one point, and giant puddles of it appear briefly in a tray sitting on a table. There is also some actual blood, as an injured character staggers through several scenes and you must follow the blood trail.
  • Bribe Backfire: Done with a twist. The destitute theater owner, LeBlanc, accepts a bribe from Gaius to misidentify the body of Marie Roget as being that of Lola Saunie. The backfire comes in when Gaius takes off without paying any of the money he promised.
  • Cardboard Prison: Implied in the bonus chapter. Lola hasn't even had time to walk home from the cemetery at the end of the main game before Gaius has broken out of jail and threatening Madame Roget. Dupin is even still talking to Jacques about the case when you get the news; Gaius didn't even wait until you'd left town to break out of jail!
  • Continuity Nod: A very subtle one can be found in one of the hidden object scenes, where an item you must locate is a golden beetle... in other words, a gold bug.
    • Pluto, the cat from The Black Cat, can be seen running out of Marie's closet at the beginning of the game. The black crow seen at the beginning and ending cut scenes of the game is hinted to be him as well, as the crow has a ruby eye. The problem, though, is that Pluto's ruby eye is his right, while the crow's is its left.
  • Creator Cameo: Poe shows up in the opening cinematic of the game, sitting at his table presumably writing Marie Roget.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Where the final act of the main game takes place.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: A big part of The Reveal. Lola Saunie is pretending to be the deceased Marie Roget, because she just can't bear to tell Marie's aunt that her beloved niece is dead. As the bonus chapter reveals, however, Madame Roget knew all along.
  • Demoted to Extra: Jacques, Marie's husband in-game. In the original story, he was suspecting of murdering his fiancee Marie, so a discussion of his movements and alibis is central to the analysis of Marie's death. Here his letter only prompts the investigation, and after explaining a game mechanic he departs and never shows up again. In the bonus chapter he's briefly shown speaking to Dupin, but their conversation is not revealed and is quickly interrupted.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Jacques mentions to you and Dupin that Marie's aunt owns "the famous Boulangerie Bakery." Boulangerie is the French word for bakery, meaning that it's the Bakery Bakery.
  • Due to the Dead: Part of the ghost's Unfinished Business. Marie Roget was buried under Lola Saunie's name, having been falsely identified. She wants her true identity so she can rest in peace.
  • Forbidden Romance: Documents turn up which hint that Madame Roget forbade her niece Marie to be romantically involved with the sailor Gaius.
  • Generic Cop Badges: Dupin starts off the game by presenting you with one of these. Its only distinguishing feature is the inscription at the top, "Dark Tales Detective Agency." Your character has a quiet moment of squee, privately admitting to having always wanted one.
  • Ghostly Goals/Unfinished Business: As the game progresses, it becomes clear that there is a dead young woman who is behind all of the haunting, and part of the resolution of the game involves finding out what she wants.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: The young woman's ghost does this a few times.
  • Go Into the Light: What Marie's ghost finally gets to do at the end.
  • Greek Mythology: There are a few references to the old myths in this game:
    • Chronos, the god of time, appears as a key for one puzzle.
    • The achievement for powering up the lighthouse is called "Prometheus."
    • Charon, the ferryman of the underworld, is referenced in the final puzzle of the main game.
    • One of the puzzles on the docks involves finding a trident. When clicking on the lock before solving the puzzle, the player character makes a reference to Neptune.
  • Happily Married: The young couple Dupin is trying to help. Jacques is being informed by Dupin of the results of the case in the bonus chapter; whether Dupin tells him about Marie really being Lola, how Jacques takes this information, and the effect it might have on the marriage are never revealed.
  • He Knows Too Much: It's implied that the lighthouse keeper was murdered by Gaius because he (correctly) suspected Gaius of killing the "gorgeous dame" who was on the dock with him.
  • Identical Stranger: Marie Roget and the ballerina Lola Saunie bear a striking resemblance to one another. As the bonus chapter reveals, however, this is because they're actually cousins.
  • The Klutz: Jory, Madame Roget's friend seen in the bonus chapter, is this. He backs up suddenly and steps on a plate that causes you to be locked in a room; later he trips on some rope and falls into the ocean.
    • He admits that this is also how he met Madame Roget when they were both younger; he says he was inebriated at the time, and since he lives above a tavern he undoubtedly drinks there as well. The room you get locked in is a wine cellar of sorts; he already knows it can only be unlocked from the outside, probably because he's been locked in there before.
  • Left Hanging: The game never informs us of whether Dupin told Jacques that Marie is really Lola. The bonus chapter shows Dupin talking with Jacques, but what he's telling him is not revealed. If Dupin did tell Jacques Lola's secret, then it's hard to believe that Jacques would not at least be upset by the news; whether their marriage stayed a happy one after that is also unknown.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: Used to get the lighthouse working again.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Seen in the bonus chapter. It turns out that Madame Roget went along with the ruse that Lola was Marie, and wrote out her will to leave everything to Lola, because Lola is the child she was forced to give up for adoption years earlier.
  • Magic Mirror: You use one to help solve the mystery. Certain objects can be placed on it to engineer extra clues.
  • Mind over Matter: Marie's ghost has telekinetic powers, as demonstrated when she stops a bullet in midair, turns it around, and sends it back to the shooter. She does this deliberately in order to save Dupin and the player character.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The Big Bad triggers one of these, causing Dupin and the player character to become trapped underground. The player character is knocked unconscious, much to Dupin's alarm.
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day: When Gaius tries to shoot the detectives, the young woman's ghost intervenes and turns the bullet around to hit him instead.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Documents turn up which hint that Madame Roget forbade her niece Marie to be romantically involved with the sailor Gaius. Marie ignored her and planned to marry Gaius anyway.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: To a decent extent. The Other Wiki notes that the Poe story on which this game is based was almost certainly the first ever example of a real-life crime being turned into a detective story.
    • More specifically, it was based on the newspaper accounts of the murder of a girl named Mary Cecilia Rogers. Many details between Poe's story and the actual newspaper accounts are identical, the only things Poe did was move the story to France and change the names of the characters to French ones.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The locket the detectives give to Madame Roget at the end of the game as proof of Marie's death. It and the note are what convince Madam Roget to forgive her niece and decide to get revenge against Gaius in the bonus chapter. How she was planning to do this is unknown because she gets kidnapped.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Explained in the bonus chapter, as noted above.
  • Visual Pun: In the bonus game, the key to unlock the tavern is shaped like a skeleton. You know, a Skeleton Key.
    • May also count as a Call Back, since the player character remarks at one point in the main game that they really ought to consider investing in a skeleton key rather than spending so much time figuring out the various complicated locks.

     Nightfall 

Nightfall provides examples of:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: There is a wardrobe in your personal office where you can select different garments in which to attire your avatar. Purchasing and wearing full ensembles provides specific bonuses.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: Also in the personal office is a space where you can purchase and equip different pieces of decor for the room, such as blind curtains to keep out prying eyes.
  • Background Music: Nightfall uses the same background music as the other games in the series, but lampshades it a bit when you visit Dupin's house... and see his record player constantly running.
  • Continuity Nod: In addition to the fact that the cases have the same names as the ones in the paid-for games, William LeGrand from The Gold Bug appears at the start of the game and asks you to feed his dog, Arthur, while he travels.
    • Pluto also shows up in Nightfall; he's in one of the loading screens being held by Dupin. He also shows up as a living cat in the gambling hall, reclining on the piano. His ruby eye, which should be his right, is shown here on his left, but the name tags he wears show that it is indeed him.
  • Cool Airship: These will fly across the map on occasion when the player's level gets to a certain point. Clicking on them allows you to speak to the pilot for a quest. At least one of the pilots looks like a Sky Pirate.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Those who are familiar with the paid-for games in the series will notice that many backgrounds in the free game are similar or identical. Justified in that not everybody buys the extras when they play free online games, so reusing the artwork allows them to keep the game free.
  • Difficulty Spike: The hidden object scenes will sometimes be subjected to these, such as darkening the entire scene except for where you shine your flashlight, or experiencing an extremely localized weather anomaly (see Weather Dissonance, below).
  • Featureless Protagonist: Averted, for the only time in the entire series. At the start of Nightfall, you enter your name and select a gender for yourself, which determines the appearance of your avatar. The choice of gender has no real impact except that it determines whether your clothing options will be suits or dresses.
  • Find the Cure: At least two of the rotating timed quests have you finding a cure for a sick person.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: They appear on the map every half hour or so and usually contain gold or a collection item. There are also inexplicable treasure caches that appear once a day at different times, open up in three hours, and contain gold and special items.
  • Loading Screen: Every time you move to a new area, you watch an animation of gears turning around one another.
  • Lovely Assistant: To some extent, Anna is this to Dupin. She's hinted to be the player character from the main games, which means she's a very competent detective in her own right; but she's mostly seen here handling minor matters for Dupin, such as providing you with instructions and rewards.
  • MacGuffin: Nearly all of the challenges in this game involve hunting down particular items for various characters, which is achieved by solving hidden object puzzles.
  • Magic Map: Usually, your Point-and-Click Map of Paris is just a means to travel quickly from one hidden object location to another. However, it occasionally becomes involved with puzzles itself. For instance, a prison break will have you squinting at the streets to spot the escaped convicts in their tell-tale black and white garb, and grabbing them by clicking on them.
  • Plot Lock: The map is filled with these, as nearly all of the buildings shown are locked to you at the start of the game. Over time, they gradually become unlocked as the plot unfolds.
  • Relationship Values: There are meters beneath various characters that determine your reputation with them. These meters can only go up, not down, and are raised by completing the hidden object area they're associated with, not (as one might assume) by completing quests given by those characters. You get achievements for maxing them out; the game states that unique items or clothing will also be awarded, but it hasn't been programmed in yet. The character that has the most scenes associated with her, Anna Flers, doesn't have an achievement, probably because she's the easiest to get 100% reputation with.
  • Shout-Out: The entire game is basically a Freemium shout-out to the main Dark Tales series. You begin by joining Dupin's detective agency and, once you've gone through the tutorial-esque beginnings, immediately move to help him solve the case of the original game.
    • The personal office assigned to you is almost identical to that of the player character in House of Usher, minus certain decorative touches.
      • That's because [[Cut-and-Paste Environments many backgrounds in the free version were previously used in the paid-for games; some changes have been made to a few of them, but very few of them are original to the free game.
    • There's an in-game list that states what the other mystery cases will be, and they're all mysteries from the game series. The progression of the stories is different, however; in the Nightfall version of The Murders in the Rue Morgue, it's closer to the original story in that both Madame and Madamoiselle L'Espanaye are both dead, though other events in this version don't happen in either the original story or the previous game.
  • Start My Own: The basic premise of the game is that Dupin, the greatest detective in Paris, has decided he needs to create his own detective agency to facilitate the solving of the most puzzling crimes. It seems to be a very small agency, though - just him, you, and Anna.
  • Take Your Time: For the most part, quests have no time limit. However, this is averted by a special set of quests that do have a timer and usually need to be done in 24 hours. The hidden object scenes also have timers, and if they aren't completed in a certain amount of time the player will fail them. This can happen most often when the scene is under the influence of a hurricane.
  • Thought Bubble Speech: Arthur, Le Grand's dog, has these if you accept the quest to feed him for seven days while his owner's gone. Most of his thoughts are complaints about how his owner never visits him and how hungry he is.
  • Weather Dissonance: The hidden object scenes are sometimes under the influence of a hurricane... which is affecting only the building in question. It's really just an excuse to speed up the timer on the scene, thus increasing the difficulty, but it's visually rather humorous.
    • This also happens with fog, frost and "Chaos" (which looks like a thunderstorm), which also have different effects on the hidden object scene (fog will literally obscure the scene with fog, while frost will freeze hints and helper items and Chaos scrambles the words of the items you need to find).
    • In the Rue de la Reynie street scene where some of the timed quests can take place, if you look very closely, the rain is moving upward, not downward. This can be hard to see if you aren't an animation fanatic.