Videogame: Spirits Of Mystery
Spirits of Mystery is a series of hidden object games
created by ERS Game Studios
and distributed by Big Fish Games. The games feature a princess of a royal family who is tasked to save her kingdoms from evil forces. Every set of two take place in different kingdoms.
The first game, Amber Maiden
has the princess learning about how her mother and father were entrapped in amber by an evil witch and must free all who were encased by it.
The second game, Song of the Phoenix
, tells of the granddaughter of the first game rescuing her love from the clutches of his evil cousin Isa before he frees a witch that caused a war between two kingdoms.
The third game, The Dark Minotaur
takes place in another kingdom. Isa is working for someone known as Princess Mortis and both plan on reviving the minotaur to serve their needs. The princess is off to stop him along with her band of magical animals.
The fourth game, The Silver Arrow
has the great granddaughter of the Dark Minotaur Princess team up with Prince Philip of the Pearl Kingdom. Prince Philip has fired the titular Silver Arrow, which will land on the window of the chosen bride-to-be. Unfortunately, a mercenary named Basil has taken it to Princess Mortis, who seeks to obtain Prince Philip's hand in marriage.
What makes this game interesting is that it's a deep contrast to what ERS Game Studios is well known for (Ghosts, supernatural entities, detectives, etc.). The games have been praised by the fans as one of the best series by the studio and Song of the Phoenix
was crowned 2nd place for Best Hidden Object Games of 2012 by Gamezebo.
Tropes present throughout the series include:
- Animal Motifs: Owls for the queen in Amber Maiden and bats for Big Bad Isa in Song of the Phoenix.
- Badass Princess: Evil witch and warlocks threatening to hurt people they love? They're not going to stand for it.
- Continuity Nod: Song of the Phoenix confirms that the protagonist of the game is the grand-daughter of the princess from Amber Maiden and that the nanny in that game is part of a family. Also, the hint system in that game is the "Eye of Omniscience", the trinket given to the princess in the first game. The pointer gets encased in amber if one places too many long clicks and last but not least, the runes that you find in the game are from the Collector's Edition of Amber Maiden.
- Isa is first seen with a panther by his side in Song of the Phoenix. The Dark Minotaur has the game opening with that very same shot.
- In The Dark Minotaur, the princess there holds the locket of Princess Mortis similar to how the princess in Song of the Phoenix holds the locket with Prince Thyrian's picture.
- In The Silver Arrow, the princess is given a diary about healing medicine from her great-grandmother, presumably the princess from Dark Minotaur. A painting puzzle involves rearranging tiles to form Chester, the Red Panda (also from Dark Minotaur) and the queen from Amber Maiden. Basil also transforms into a panther, similar to how Isa had one under his control in both Song of the Phoenix and The Dark Minotaur.
- In the bonus chapter of The Silver Arrow, Electra states Princess Mortis's backstory from The Dark Minotaur.
- Everything's Better with Princesses
- Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods: Amber Maiden has the princess collect musical instruments for a friendly octopus statue, while Isa is known to control one in Song of the Phoenix.
- Everyone Calls Her Your Majesty or Princess
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to other ERS Games, this one is more fantasy-based with princesses and happy endings.
- Maid And Maiden: The princess and her caretaker in each of the games.
- Mythology Gag: The sound effects of some of the animals is actually from one of the company's older games Hidden Wonders of the Depths.
- No Pronunciation Guide: In Song of the Phoenix, Isa is pronounced as "Ee-sah". In The Dark Minotaur and The Silver Arrow, it's pronounced "Eye-sah".
- Once an Episode: The game always starts with the character with their nanny and said nanny explains what's going on. Averted with Song of the Phoenix where a soldier explains what happens. They also meet up with a fairy or nymph that explains a bit about the game's backstory.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: When found out about something happening, the princess goes out and decides to put an end to it.
Tropes present in Amber Maiden:
- Animal Motifs: The queen's associated with owls. In order to free her, you need to create the Jewel of Owlish Wisdom and the statues in the Magic Tower are owls.
- Big Friendly Dog: The king's sister, Princess Isolda, has a pet dog named Barney who got encased in amber. You free him by giving him his favorite ball.
- Precious Puppy: Princess Isolda has sketches of Barney as this in her diary.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The dog that you save 2/3 of the way into the game helps to show The Reveal of the witch who encased everyone in amber years ago.
- Diary: Princess Isolda has one with many of its pages ripped out.
- Harmless Freezing: All people, animals and things in the kingdom have been encased in amber. The only way to free them is to give them items that belonged to them. Interesting to note is that they don't age, considering it has been about 16-18 years after the witch struck.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: The princess comments, "I'm a princess, not a superhero!" should the player try to grab a hot pie out of the oven without the oven mitts.
- The Owl-Knowing One: An owl appears every now and then to help you. It also relates to the queen's association with owls.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Handsome, your nanny's cockatoo you free from the amber curse will squawk, "Thank you princess!" once you give him his special hand mirror.
- The Reveal: The witch is the king's sister, Princess Isolda, who had been possessed by a ring she found years ago, meaning she is the princess's long-lost aunt.
- Sword and Sorcerer: The king and queen, presumably. Their coat of arms has both a book of spells and a sword.
- Time Skip: The bonus chapter takes place one month after the events of the game.
- Western Zodiac: The first puzzle of the game involves matching astrological signs with their meaning in order to activate the Eye of Omniscience.
Tropes present in Song of the Phoenix
- Aerith and Bob: Isa, Thyrian, Firella, Brishare and...Zak.
- Animal Motifs: Bats for Isa.
- Always Night
- Bacon Addiction: In order to obtain a chest from the tentacles of an octopus, the princess obtains some bacon, cooks it and then uses the grease to make the tentacles slippery.
- Big Bad: Isa, Prince Thyrian's cousin.
- Bigger Bad: Firella, the witch who caused the war between the Phoenix and Dragon Kingdom.
- Big Good: Brishare
- Brainwashed and Crazy: All antagonistic animals you meet are controlled by Isa due to the witch giving him the ability to control them.
- Chekhov's Gun: Brishare's diary states that dragons and phoenixes vanished after the evil witch used her evil ways to set them to fight against one another. The phoenixes come back once the spell on the animals are gone, reviving Prince Thyrian in the process.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Brishare, the creator of the Golden Phoenix amulet, is mentioned in a letter at the beginning of the game. You later meet up with him and he creates a portal to reach Isa and Prince Thyrian.
- Deadly Gas: Isa is able to create flowers known as "Baleful Blossoms" that exert a gas that can be fatal without the magic of the Golden Phoenix amulet neutralizing it.
- Disney Death: Prince Thyrian is dead by the time the princess reaches him, but thanks to dispelling the curse that was brainwashing the animals, the phoenixes return, shedding a feather that revives him.
- Distressed Dude: Prince Thyrian
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The princess has to encounter Isa's traps, brainwashed animals, and rescuing Prince Thyrian almost too late. However, all's well that ends well and Firella has been destroyed forever.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: All brainwashed animals have this.
- Heavy Sleeper: The princess's journal tells of a race of giants who offered their treasure to a wizard to let them have peaceful dreams. They slept for so long that all that's left of them are their heads which have turned to stone. In fact, they're so deep in sleep that a special sneezing powder that was used on one doesn't startle them awake!
- Hidden Object Game: This game debuts the "Interactive Hidden Object Game" in which you collect items shown in silhouette and use them to interact with the environment in order to obtain an inventory piece.
- Instant Runes: The "Sources of Light" used by the Golden Phoenix amulet that helps destroy the Baleful Blossoms.
- Mister Exposition: The Forest Fairy and Brishare at different points of the game, explaining about the witch who started the war between the Dragon and Phoenix Kingdom.
- Mundane Utility: In the bonus chapter, the princess—now queen—finds a phoenix feather to help light a lantern.
- Mythical Motifs: The princess is from the Dragon Kingdom, while Prince Thyrian and Isa are from the Phoenix Kingdom. The dragon is known to be very courageous and wise, able to control the elements with ease. The phoenix is known for its medical and healing properties.
- Panthera Awesome: Isa has a pet panther by his side. Once you release it from the brainwashing spell, it chases after him. However, the panther returns in the bonus chapter and is as sweet and docile as a house cat.
- The Power of Love: Should the prince and princess marry, the power of their hearts would destroy the witch. More importantly, this wedding is to end the fight between the Dragon and Phoenix kingdom once and for all.
- Precious Puppy: Isa traps one up in a cage. You have to free him and give him to his mother who's blocking the entrance into the forest.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Fairy mouse: a mouse with the wings and antenna of a firefly and it is so cute!
- Scary Scorpions: To reach Prince Thyrian, the princess has to use a giant mechanical one as a bridge.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Firella.
- Taken for Granite: Brishare placed a spell on the evil witch Firella to prevent her from causing more destruction.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: The princess creates a sleeping potion and places it into the water bowl of the panther in order to sneak pass it.
- Time Skip: This one takes place some time after Amber Maiden judging from a comment made upon seeing a portrait of the original queen and calling her "Great-grandmother". How much time, however, isn't explained although the nanny states that the war between the Dragon and Phoenix Kingdom has taken place for 300 years.
- The X of Y
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Zak is last seen feeling faint after being poisoned by snakes controlled by Isa. The diary states that he would be fine and recover, but he isn't seen after that.
- Only the phoenixes return at the end of the game even though both dragons and phoenixes disappeared when the war started. The bonus chapter has the protagonist bring the dragons back by hatching one of the last dragon eggs.
Tropes present The Dark Minotaur
- A Load of Bull: The titular Dark Minotaur
- And I Must Scream: The panther in this game is actually a poor human who's been transformed. What's worse is that if the human transformed panther strays too far from Isa, they die. They have no choice but to obey him in order to survive! What's worse is that it's unknown whether or not it retains its human memories.
- In the collector's edition, the princess reverts the panther to his original form, revealing that he was the previous ruler of the kingdom, King Edmund.
- Big Bad: Princess Mortis and Isa.
- Brain Bleach: The princess's reaction to seeing a photo of Princes Mortis and Isa together? "Nastily ever after."
- The Chosen One: The princess is able to see a magic painting have Princess Mortis's image, indicating that she's the one who will stop her.
- Disappeared Dad: The nanny mentions about the main character's king in the past tense.
- Elemental Powers: Each animal corresponds to one.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Princess Mortis being in love with Isa and was enraged when she accidentally killed him—due to the main character's interference. This continues in The Silver Arrow as the bonus chapter indicates that she will do anything to remove the boundaries between the world of the living and dead.
- For the Evulz: Princess Mortis zaps a satyr and curses his arm and all he was doing is playing his flute!
- Friend to All Living Things: The princess in this tale has four magical animal friends that she grew up with. These include:
- Cats Are Magic: Muffins, a cat that brings hope to whomever looks into its eyes.
- Panda-ing to the Audience: Chester, a red panda that gives good fortune whenever someone brushes his fur.
- Turtle Power: Albert, a turtle who grants wisdom to whomever touches his shell.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: A painting in the beginning of the game shows the princess having blond hair and is shown to be a Friend to All Living Things
- Heel-Face Turn: Isa seems to have gained one in between his last scene in Song of the Phoenix, giving the princess magic powder to teleport everywhere and such. Subverted as once the princess is invisible at the last third of the game, she overhears him ordering the guards to imprison her the moment they see her.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: The log-in book in order to enter the Royal Menagerie uses the name the player logs in for the Princess.
- Invisibility: The princess is given an invisibility potion to help sneak around throughout the game. However, it only works for a short amount of time.
- Knight of Cerebus: The Dark Minotaur was pretty much lighter in comparison to Song of the Phoenix, but when Princess Mortis is on the scene, everyone suffers.
- Magic Music: Jewel, the nightingale has the ability to heal wounds with its song.
- The Medic: In The Silver Arrow, the princess eventually becomes one of this.
- My God, What Have I Done?: "Isa...oh no." This single act carries with Princess Mortis all the way to the bonus chapter of The Silver Arrow.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Princess Mortis, aka Princess Death.
- Oh, Crap: Just as the invisibility potion runs out and Prince Isa enters his room. With you inside. Then it's subverted as Isa then "explains" that he's actually trying to 'stop' Princess Mortis.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Dark Minotaur needs 1000 souls in order to awaken.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dark Minotaur was created by an evil mage to be his obedient servant, but the mage died prior to its completion. Should one complete its mind and soul, the minotaur shall obey them forever.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Princess Mortis gathered the souls of all the villagers and people who tried to rebel against her in an attempt to reawaken the Dark Minotaur. Unlike most examples, once a soul is extracted, the person is dead.
Tropes Present in The Silver Arrow
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Isa as shown in the bonus chapter looks younger and a bit handsomer than the previous two games.
- The Ageless: Despite being three generations in-between games, Mortis hasn't aged a day. Turns out she made a deal with three ghosts: Wrath, Greed and Cowardice, who gave her back her youth and power.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Even after what happened between this game and The Dark Minotaur, Mortis comes out as this. She is still suffering from killing Isa and desperately wants to be with him again. At the end, when the main character ruins her chances to bring Isa out of the afterlife, she gives up her life to be with him.
- Animorphism: Basil's specialty. In fact, this is actually fueled by...
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: In order to use his shapeshifting abilities, he steals the souls of animals and transforms them into amulets.
- Anti-Villain: Basil is a Type IV. He's just doing his job as a mercenary and once cornered, he runs off in defeat.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: When gryphons are tired of living, they move to the next state of being, resulting in them transforming into talking skeletons.
- Backstory: Lothar, a wise gryphon saw that the spirits of Greed, Wrath and Cowardice caused the world to be filled with anguish. He sealed them away and peace reigned ever since. However, if the seal of the chest is not renewed by the new reigning queen of the Pearl Kingdom wielding the Silver Arrow, the seal can break and they can start tempting others.
- Big Bad: Princess Mortis, just like in The Dark Minotaur.
- Bigger Bad: The spirits that gave Mortis her youth and power back. Wrath, Greed and Cowardice.
- Big Good: Elektra.
- Bears Are Bad News: A bear gets caught in Basil's trap. Once the princess frees it, it shapeshifts back into Basil, who accidentally got caught in his own trap by mistake.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S": Items belong with Basil are marked with a "B". The same goes with Mortis.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The maskari (a shapeshifter) you free early on in the game mentioned that Princess Mortis has his brother. You meet up with said brother—who was brainwashed and transformed into a copy of Prince Philip—near the end of the game.
- Continuity Snarl: The picture of the Dark Minotaur princess (The Silver Arrow princess's great grandmother) is the same one used for the queen in Amber Maiden. The picture of the Dark Minotaur princess shown at the beginning of her game has her blond.
- Deal with the Devil: Mortis made a deal with the three spirits to regain her youth and power. Marrying Prince Philip will give her the strength to bring the spirits back.
- Distressed Dude: Prince Philip once Princess Mortis captures him.
- The Dragon: Basil, the mercenary Princess Mortis hired.
- Flashback: In the bonus chapter, the princess gets to see one of the scenes from The Dark Minotaur. Specifically, they're watching the scene where Mortis killed Isa in her rage.
- Friend to All Living Things: Both the princess and Prince Philip.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: One is found at the beach with barnacles stuck to his tail. He's also a friend of Prince Philip.
- Heroic Dog: Subverted. Sky, the princess's Huskie, tries his hardest to fight Basil in his panther form, only to have his leg dislocated and bandaged. He is only capable of helping dig for something before he has to go back to the castle to heal.
- Hidden Depths: The princess is very artistic and Prince Philip is known to fish.
- Macguffin: The titular Silver Arrow, which is used to determine the new bride to be in the Pearl Kingdom. It also has also has a secondary purpose: Each new queen must use the arrow to seal away the dark spirits of Wrath, Greed and Cowardice. If Mortis marries Prince Philip, she could use it to unleash the dark spirits.
- Macguffin Delivery Service: In the bonus chapter, once the princess gains two of the three stones needed to enter the Gryphon kingdom, Mortis appears and whacks the player character unconscious and snatches the stones off her.
- The Mind Is The Plaything Of The Body: Basil has the mindset and fears of any animal he transforms into. Startling him reverts him back to his normal form for a short amount of time.
- Musical Nod: When Electra talks about the game's backstory, it's accompanied by one of the tracks from ERS's Azada games.
- Mythical Motifs: The princess hails from the Gryphon Kingdom, but also has a dragon statue as a Call Back to Song of the Phoenix and the Dragon Kingdom.
- Nemean Skinning: Basil wears a large bear skin, with the head as a hood.
- Omniglot: Romas, the Lingbeast.
- Ouroboros: In the bonus chapter, this is an answer to one of the skeletal gryphon's riddles.
- Our Griffins Are Different: Mirstella is a griffin that grows in size after feeding it special food. In the bonus chapter it's revealed that when a gryphon dies, they just transition into a different state, as noted by the talking skeletal griffin.
- Panthera Awesome: Alda, a tiger that the princess meets up with in Mortis's castle.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The spirits of Wrath, Greed and Cowardice.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Princess Mortis and Isa in the bonus chapter. Looks like Mortis is still bitter about what happened in The Dark Minotaur.
- Time Skip: Like Song of the Phoenix, The Silver Arrow takes a few decades after The Dark Minotaur when the nanny comments on having the diary of the princess's "great-grandmother" (presumably the protagonist of The Dark Minotaur). Princess Mortis, however, hasn't aged a day. See The Ageless for more info.
- The bonus chapter takes place 6 months after the end of the main game.
- Together in Death: Princess Mortis's answer when the player character foiled her plan to bring Isa to the land of the living.
- Turtle Power: The princess finds a mother turtle in the bonus chapter protecting her babies. Once they're hatched, one of them becomes an inventory item.
- Vocal Evolution: Princess Mortis's voice in Dark Minotaur was deeper and had more of a sharp wit. Here hers is a bit of a higher range.
- Warrior Prince: Prince Philip, who is willing to fire his bow and arrow at both Basil and Princess Mortis.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Basil literally transforms into a mouse and runs off after being defeated. Then again, he is a mercenary so he was just doing his job.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Princess Mortis as revealed in the bonus chapter. She desperately wants to be with Isa after what happened in The Dark Minotaur and is willing to destroy the boundaries between life and death if it means getting to be with him again.
- You Have 24 Hours: After the Silver Arrow is fired, the wedding begins the day after. With Princess Mortis in possession of it, Prince Philip and the princess must retrieve it before Mortis becomes betrothed.