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 kingdom (in the first game) and her fiancÚ (in the second game).
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 grand-daughter of the first game rescuing her love from the clutches of his evil cousin Isa before he frees the soul of the witch from the first game.
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.
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.
- 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
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to other ERS Games, this one is more fantasy-based. It's gotten progressively darker in following games, though.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Everything's Worse with Wolves: A wolf prevents you from entering the forest. To please her, you need to free her son from a cage and hand him to her.
- 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.
- 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 Collector's Edition, 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 Collector's Edition 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 mice: 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.
- 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 Maidan 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 was taken place for 300 years.
- The X of Y
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.
- Elemental Powers: Each animal corresponds to one.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: If indications are true, Princess Mortis might've had feelings for Isa and expresses some regret after she destroys him with a blast of lightning.
- 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. These include:
- Cats Are Magic: Muffins, a cat that brings hope to whomever looks into its eyes.
- Pandaing 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.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- Prop Recycling: The picture of the young princess with Chester, the red panda is actually a reused Princess Isadora with her pet dog Barney from Amber Maiden.
- 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.