Cause of Death is a Visual Novel style serial published by Electronic Arts for the iOS operating system beginning in December 2010. Falling under the Detective Drama genre, it follows a Homicide police contingent in San Francisco, focusing on decorated (albeit with some qualms about following authority all the time, courtesy his daddy issues) detective Mal Fallon and FBI profiler Natara Williams. And yes, the profiler is very much justified, given the problems San Francisco is having on account of the Connoisseur, a more-than-slightly-well-heeled funder of...Serial Killers. The focus isn't just on the killers and their impending comeuppance, though, but also on the personal relationships (platonic and otherwise) of the Homicide department.Cause of Death is downloaded with its first volume (or, to use the current terminology, "season") completely free. After release, each week sees a new episode accessible for free...for that week, anyway. In order to play through episodes that aired before that, purchase is required. Thankfully, there's a discount for older seasons, increasing with age. The initial season has six episodes, with a bonus scene after it all if the player does well enough throughout. After that, each season has eight episodes, and rather than one bonus scene for the whole lot, there's one bonus scene for each episode. Between episodes, a two-part "Side Story" is published that focuses on someone besides Mal and Natara. And finally, there are the occasional Short Story Collection premia that don't actually have choice sections; just click and watch the show... er... read the story.
This serial provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: Season 11 randomly drops the storyline about a cannibal serial killer halfway through in order to focus on the more popular story arc of Mal and the gang battling the Salazar cartel in San Trobida.
The resolution to the cannibal case is quickly glossed over by Blaise in the final scene of the season.
Action Girl: Blaise, Natara, Maria and Amy while she's in Brimstone, among other females.
All Crimes Are Equal: Wendy Wilcox in Domestic Disturbance. The reason for the first two murders? Her husband was cheating on her. Reason for murder number three? Barbara stole her snickerdoodles recipe.
Amoral Attorney: Catherine Krutzik shows shades of this at the end of the Under My Skin dyad. Why does she want to represent a patently guilty killer? For increased fees and media rights, of course!
Arms Dealer: Captain Abe Miller. A little unusual in that while he is operating in the black market, he's still very conscientious about background checks. Too bad background checks won't reveal very recent Sanity Slippage.
Artistic License - Geography: Done intentionally with the latitude and longitude of San Trobida in 11-6. The writers made sure that the exact location would, in our world, be in the Gulf of Mexico, rather than on land, if only to keep fans from making a pilgrimage. The location is pretty close to the Pánama/Colombia border, admittedly.
Backstory: Exists in side stories for some of the main cast, and told in the later episodes of a season for that season's killer.
Badass: Mal, Blaise, Maria, Ken and Krystal of Brimstone.
Big Damn Heroes: Mal and Natara near the end of Season 1 when they confront the Maskmaker to save Amy. Also, all of Mal's friends taking part in an operation led by Jacob Fallon to rescue him from General Salazar. Or a bit later, Mal leading an operation to invade Salazar's compound.
By-the-Book Cop: Despite his problems, Mal really does try to keep to this when he can. It helps that he's constantly on the lookout for probable cause, though. Jeremy Redbird is a much more resolute example.
Cannot Spit It Out: Mal and Natara took ten seasons to do so, and even then it wasn't a direct confession.
Can't Drop the Hero: Subverted in the sense that you don’t always play from Mal’s and Natara’s perspectives, but technically they’re still around.
Cowboy Cop: Jacob was a particularly ferocious version of this. Blaise can be one when the situation seems especially urgent, and Anna wishes she could be a "proper" one.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Most of the killers at the end of each season. Actually, pretty much most people who die. Examples: Ryan getting punched into a Bear Trap face-first in Season 3, Armie letting himself undergo Propeller Blender in Season 7.
Darker and Edgier: Things seem to have taken quite a turn since Season 1. Remember the sex club in Season 10? Oh, have you seen Season 11 and its gore yet?
Dirty Old Man: Wesley Vale is a particularly vile example. He seduces married women solely to get constant revenge on his ex-girlfriend. You know, the one whom he killed around twenty-eight years earlier?
In the Dirty Cop department, Jacob has one very hard and fast guiding principle for his crime ring: Never sell out or otherwise coerce a civilian customer. Junkie wants to quit? Guide him to a proper clinic. Prostitution? Completely forbidden. Drug sales? Stay clear of the schools. He may have despaired of eradicating the black market, but not constraining it.
Everybody Did It: It turned out that the three suspects identified of killing their father in Season 5 worked together. It was not a one-man affair.
Evil Matriarch: Genevieve Collins becomes a surrogate mother for troubled children that she "nurtures" into becoming full fledged serial killers.
Fiery Coverup: Kara makes use of this to steal an artefact and escape in Kai Hard. Subverted as she was not the one who bombed the location.
Fixed Camera: Different places may have different scenery, but even then it’s only one picture each.
Follow in My Footsteps: Mal, Jacob and Jacob's dad work in the police force like the esteemed Malachi Fallon, founder of the SFPD.
Gas Chamber: Mal and Blaise get trapped in one in Season 8. Mal and Natara get trapped in another in Season 10.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Amy's nicknames on the Internet. 'Love Kitten' doesn't sound very childish, does it? Then again, she came up with that alias when she was in eighth grade, and it was simply because of her immense love of cats.
The Ghost: Mal's sister, Cynthia, and niece, Denni. The latter is from Surviving High School, Cause of Death's sister game.
Finally averted in the Christmas episode and Season 13, the latter of which Denni plays a large role.
Have a Nice Death: There are plenty of ways you can get yourself killed if you make a bad choice, or several bad choices in a row.
Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: The one time we get a snippet of his writing style (the "Hot Frisco Nights" scene at the beginning of First Date), Kai's fanfiction quickly proves itself to be this. Neither Ken nor Amy think terribly much of it.
Hurting Hero: Natara in Season 1 over her accidentally shooting Shawn prior to the beginning of ingame events.
I Call It Vera: Jericho of Brimstone has a ‘mobile operating unit’ he calls Lucille.
I Choose to Stay: Natara responds to Mal positively near the end of Season 10, during Love and Madness.
I Have Many Names: The Connoisseur. Genevieve Marsden was just her latest alias when she met Jake Collins. She'd had many aliases beforehand, all incorporating the "jin" phoneme somehow.
I Have Your Wife: Several varieties throughout the course of the serial, of course. Coworker (Season 1), sister (Season 2), girlfriend (Season 3)...
I Never Said It Was Poison: During an interrogation in 2-1, Sandi Demme said she did not know the victim was beaten up when Mal never mentioned it at all.
Internal Affairs: Charles Anders is a particularly unpleasant example. Especially when 9-2's bonus scene implies that he's not so much about the primacy of regulations and protocol as about being a Control Freak. He eventually undergoes Character Development and warms up to the SFPD. Edgar Walsh in Jacob and Fallon is a much more friendly representative. Too bad Ésteban kills him.
It's All My Fault: Mal following Amy's kidnapping in Season One's climax, as well as his girlfriend Tasha King's murder in Season Three's climax and most significantly following Ken's death in Season Eight.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Depending on how aware you think he was of his attraction to Natara at the times, Mal qualifies with his attitude towards Shawn and Óscar.
Jerkass: Óscar, when he first dumped Natara. For more constant examples, just look at Seth and Anna.
Kansas City Shuffle: Kingfisher's gambits. Amy Chen notes that his favorite tactic seems to be figuring out how to egg his target on into the trap already set for said target. As witness Jeremy's use of a compromised laptop to stop a subway train, only for Kingfisher to use the open wireless access to steal sensitive data off the very laptop. Amy later manages to turn it back on Kingfisher with resounding success.
Love Hurts: Most of the romantic relationships in this game are strangely complicated.
Madness Mantra: The Ladykiller when he experiences a psychotic break. Also, if you end up making a drugged Jeremy kill Blaise in 12-6, Jeremy ends up in an asylum where he repeatedly rocks back and forth muttering, "I'm sorry" over and over. In Chapter 8, one of the Kraken's acolytes tries to put up a facade of this. Krakenwillrise indeed.
Mama Bear: Don't even think of threatening Maria's household. Not unless you fancy getting embedded with buckshot...among other possibilities.
Meaningful Echo: During a training session while in the FBI Academy, Shawn tells Natara that the crime scene is not just 'out here', but also in their heads. At the very end of Season 5, after Shawn's supposed death, Natara repeats the saying to herself.
Meaningful Name: Mal's name is short for "Malachi", the same given name as his illustrious ancestor.
Mind Screw: Mal’s and Natara’s hallucination sequences near the end of Season 10, in ‘Love and Madness’.
Monster of the Week: Each season is primarily concerned with a particular Serial Killer (whether or not they're one of the Connoisseur's lilim). Even during the usual two side cases for parts 2-3 and 5-6, Mal and Natara are constantly aware of the wretch's shadow, and typically didn't take the side case of their own wishes (e.g. Season 3's first side case is only taken because Seth won't finalize Ryan's transfer to California unless they do).
Noodle Incident: Blaise often talks about the cannibal she faced in Season 11 without giving a proper explanation of what really happened, much to the other characters' chagrin.
No One Could Survive That: Mal’s shooting of Shawn and the latter’s subsequent ‘drowning’ at the end of Season 5 — as revealed in Season 8, he did survive that shot, and as revealed in Season 8's final bonus scene, he somehow survived being shot in the chest again.
Not So Different: In First Kill, Jacob highlights how he and Maria are 'not so different' as they would 'do whatever it takes' to achieve their goals. In addition, the Firstborn has seemingly gotten Blaise to start thinking like this in regards to the serial killers she persecutes.
Official Couple: Ken and Amy. Mal and Natara more recently. Blaise and Jeremy are subverted in the sense they actually don't have romantic feelings driving their relationship... right?
Only Six Faces: While the recurring characters get unique portraits, non-recurring characters will usually get one of a stock suite of portraits with varying levels of adjustment (e.g. Miguel Flores and Ryan Orville, Emile Schumann and Alan Dwitz).
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Not shooting the brujo in Season 11 reflects Mal's morals that he should never shoot the defenseless, no matter how evil they have been. Not to mention him realizing that there actually was a pattern to the kills, thanks to Pablo's chatter about "my men".
Redemption Equals Death: Jacob Fallon, who dies a hero while extracting Mal and Natara from General Sálazar's compound.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mal's the red, Natara's the blue. From Fourth of July Special onwards, we also have Red Blaise and Blue Jeremy.
Relationship Upgrade: Ken and Amy, alongside Mal and Natara from colleagues to a couple. Blaise and Jeremy from colleagues to a 'couple', and then Amy and Jeremy, although there seems to be a complicated permutation of a Love Triangle going on as of the Chapter 14 epilogue.
The Reveal: Several people during the series are not who they say they are, sometimes with shocking results. One example would be Eric Mills as the Maskmaker in Season 1.
Revenge Myopia: The Flores family seeked revenge on Mal for killing Miguel Flores despite the fact that it was completely in self-defense.
Rousing Speech: Then-Captain Maria Yeong to her subordinates in Chapter 10, and later Mal to his friends and colleages of the SFPD, which convinces them to join the rebel's cause and aid the revolution.
Say My Name: Usually happens when someone gets injured across the different seasons.
Scars Are Forever: Natara’s scar down her left shoulder as depicted in Seasons 1 and 2, and Ken's torso wounds in Greene Zone from his tour of duty as a Marine in Afghanistan. Also the incomplete thrall mark Anna Willis received in 4-8.
Secondary Character Title: The different seasons’ titles. Season 10 is an exception; Nightmare is the name of the poison that's causing the problem, not the one dispensing it.
Serial Killer: Thanks to the Connoisseur, San Francisco's "enjoying" a bumper crop.
Ship Tease: Electronic Arts seems to take distinct pleasure in dancing around whether and when Mal and Natara will get together. Now that they've been upgraded to an Official Couple, EA's attention has apparently shifted over to Amy, Blaise, and Jeremy.
Shirtless Scene: Mal in Season 9 when Blaise tends to his wounds in Las Vegas, and a good chunk of From Oahu with Kai.
Spirited Young Lady: Natara counts, given her privileged upbringing and her father's philosophy of women.
Stay in the Kitchen: Natara's father turned out to be like this. Exhibit A: He all but abjured her after she joined the FBI. Even with Anita as a go-between, they don't communicate all that often. This is implied to be a fate that Natara's fearful of in 10-7.
Storming the Castle: Mal, Natara and Blaise raiding the Kraken’s lair in Season 8, Mal and Natara breaking into the AcuoMentrics complex in Season 10, and Mal, Natara, Jeremy and Amy storming the Sálazar Compound in the end of Season 11.
Story Arc: Every season has its own story arc. Some newer arcs may be linked to older ones though. (You have the 'over-arching story arc' here.)
Stranger in a Familiar Land: Amy when she leaves San Francisco for New York with Brimstone, then returns for Natara’s wedding with Oscar in Season 10.
Suburbia: The gated community's conceit of being a haven from all things nasty takes a beating in the Domestic Disturbance dyad. Even apart from the psycho killer who just got activated, Natara discovers that just about every adult in the walls is cheating on their spouses. The sole exceptions that she noticed? The two swingers.
Trial-and-Error Gameplay: You get to replay from a checkpoint if you die or otherwise irreparably fail in your playthrough of an episode.
Twofer Token Minority: Not that severe given the rest of the cast—Natara (Hindi-American), Kai (Pacific Islander), Amy (Chinese-American Jew), etc.—but Maria Yeong is pretty notable. 1. Female. 2. Korean immigrant (when she was a toddler, anyway). 3. Lesbian. The conflation of traits is even lampshaded in Fallon and Yeong, Part 1, when Jacob points out that with the first two traits (and being unmarried as well—this is in 1984, after all), there are a lot of people hoping newly-promoted Homicide Detective Yeong will crash and burn. Trait 3 is a secret at the time, and Jacob threatens to reveal it to the rest of the police if Maria tries to expose his deals with Ésteban Flores.
Vomiting Cop: Natara actually induces this in Domestic Disturbance, Part 2 so Mal can get a look at a crime scene while maintaining cover.
Wham Episode: The episodes in which major characters on the good side are killed. Also 14-7, where Genevieve, of all characters, is killed by the Firstborn. All the Plot Armor that the Big Bad of 13 story arcs would have didn't do her any good, it would seem.