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 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...
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 for the medium. From the second game onward, larger changes have been made to the stories to make them longer and more detailed.
Anachronism Stew: The games take place 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).
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.
Ascended Extra: Dupin, who only appeared in three of Poe's stories (Murders in the Rue Morgue was his debut), has been in all six cases so far.
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 four 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!
Continuity Nod: The player character's office in Masque of the Red Death has a wall of plaques, four of them 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.
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.
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 visually.
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.
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"). Some comments in Murders in the Rue Morgue suggest that the player character may be male, 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 player character's study in House of Usher, however, 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 Fleurs, 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.
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.
Gratuitous French: Well, the games are 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 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?"
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.
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 Buglampshades 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.
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.
Mr. Fanservice: C. Auguste Dupin, as depicted in these games, is a handsome man in roughly his thirties, with blue eyes, flowing black hair, stylish dress sense and a nice physique.
ERS even noted 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 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.
Notice This: Important puzzles and objects glint subtly to catch your attention on the easier difficulty modes.
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.
Once an Episode: Starting with The Premature Burial, each game opens with Dupin beginning to read a letter regarding the case in question.
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.
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, the first, fifth, and sixth games particularly fall under 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.
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.
Scenery Porn: There are beautifully rendered backgrounds in each game.
Scenery Gorn: However, there's also some of this to be found.
Ship Tease: Arguably, between Dupin and the player character. He begins almost every case by remarking how happy he is to see you, he 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.
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 first five games 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.
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.
Missing Mom: The victim's sister 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, 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.
Torture Cellar: The locked prison cell in the gendarmie is revealed to be this.
Weather Dissonance: It's pouring rain throughout the entire game... and a luminescent full moon is visible in the sky at the same time.
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 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.
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.
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 gone completely insane.
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.
Dead All Along: Played straight and subverted. Victorine is still alive inside the crypt, but Fore's previous wife Louise is definitely dead.
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.
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.
Interrupted Suicide: You and Dupin arrive at Julien's shabby apartment just in time to stop him from hanging himself.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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 man who held a masquerade ball for guests while trying to avoid the Red Death. In the game, he's a Mayor Pain whom the villagers despise. Inverted with the Red Death himself, as in the story he took the form of a plague that killed everyone, but is now a man wearing a red mask who seems to be a hero to the villagers, as he kills the corrupt officials of the town.
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."
Beary Friendly: You encounter a bear who helps you by knocking apples down from a tree.
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 Brick Joke, 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.
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.
I Am Spartacus: The ending scene of the bonus chapter has Jacques Morro exclaiming that he wasn't responsible for the crimes but rather the Red Masque. After this, the mob tosses a bunch of masks into the air - one of them being the eponymous mask.
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.
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. He was still a lousy mayor, though.
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.
Pandaing 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.
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.
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.
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:
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 Paris, as their curse ties them to their mansion.
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.
Canon Foreigner: Everyone apart from Roderick and Madeleine, while Roderick's friend (the narrator of the original story) is removed entirely.
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 the case, which will unlock the achievement.
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.
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.
Demoted to Scenery: 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.
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 bonus chapter'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Relative Error: A factual mistake on the part of the developers. In the bonus chapter, a character makes reference to something bringing prosperity to his ancestors - but he was actually talking about his descendants. Ancestors are the people from whom you are descended.
Sealed Good in a Can: The player unleashes a benevolent spirit called "The Reborn One," who is able to give life to statues.
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 quotes a line from Poe's The Haunted Palace. Fitting, considering the circumstances.
Taken for Granite: Inverted; the Reborn One has the power to turn statues into living, sentient creatures.
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.
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. 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.