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Elephant Games is an Armenian video game company that specializes in highly detailed Hidden Object Games. Their games span a wide variety of genres, from supernatural mysteries to fantasy to lighter puzzle games.

They first became known for their Mystery Trackers series of games and have since branched out into other stories, such as the Surface and the Grim Tales series. Gamezebo has praised their stunning artwork and immersive game environments.

The devs maintain a fairly active Facebook page where players can participate in contests and discussions; they also release exclusive art pieces (such as calendars featuring their most popular characters) and occasionally leak advance hints about upcoming games. Elephant is celebrating its 20th anniversary of incorporation in 2023, and as such will be offering plenty of bonus content throughout the year; in particular, they have announced their game release schedule for the first half of the year to whet players' appetites for their favorite series.

    Game series 

Game series developed by Elephant Games include:

  • Mystery Trackers: A group of investigators, many of them with supernatural abilities, look into various mysteries.
    • The Void
    • Raincliff
    • Black Isle
    • The Four Aces
    • Silent Hollow
    • Raincliff's Phantoms
    • Blackrow's Secret
    • The Nightsville Horror
    • The Winterpoint Tragedy
    • The Paxton Creek Avenger
    • Train to Hellswich
    • Queen of Hearts
    • Memories of Shadowfield
    • Mist Over Blackhill
    • Darkwater Bay
    • The Fall of Iron Rock
    • The Secret of Watch Hill
    • Fatal Lesson
    • Forgotten Voices
  • Grim Tales: Anna Gray is a detective from a family with a history of supernatural abilities. She is able to use photographs and other objects to travel through time and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
    • The Bride
    • The Legacy
    • The Wishes
    • The Stone Queen
    • Bloody Mary
    • The Vengeance
    • Colour of Fright
    • The Final Suspect
    • Threads of Destiny
    • The Heir
    • Crimson Hollow
    • Graywitch
    • The White Lady
    • The Time Traveler
    • The Hunger
    • The Nomad
    • Guest From the Future
    • The Generous Gift
    • Heritage
    • Trace in Time
    • Echo of the Past
    • Horizon of Wishes
    • Dual Disposition
  • Surface: A series of fantasy hidden object mystery games which take place in assorted dimensions.
    • Mystery of Another World
    • The Noise She Couldn't Make
    • The Soaring City
    • The Pantheon
    • Reel Life
    • Game of the Gods
    • Alone in the Mist
    • Return to Another World
    • Lost Tales
    • Virtual Detective
    • Strings of Fate
    • Project Dawn
  • Christmas Stories: A Lighter and Softer series of hidden object games themed around Christmas stories and fairy tales.
  • Lost In The City: A duology in which the player character wakes up in an abandoned city and must figure out what happened to him and how to escape.
    • Lost In The City
    • Lost In The City: Post Scriptum
  • Halloween Stories: Similar to the Christmas stories, this series is themed around Halloween tales and legends.
    • Invitation
    • Black Book
    • Defying Death
    • Horror Movie
    • The Neglected Dead
    • Mark on the Bone
  • Riddles of Fate: Another supernatural mystery series, this one dealing with things like death and the seven deadly sins.
    • Memento Mori
    • Into Oblivion
    • Wild Hunt
  • Royal Detective: A series which focuses on the eponymous royal detective and the ongoing effort to help a lost princess find happiness.
    • Lord of Statues
    • Queen of Shadows
    • Legend of the Golem
    • Borrowed Life
    • The Princess Returns
    • The Last Charm
  • Chimeras: A mystery series centered around mysterious beasts and missing persons.
    • Tune of Revenge
    • The Signs of Prophecy
    • Cursed and Forgotten
    • Mortal Medicine
    • Mark of Death
    • Blinding Love
    • New Rebellion
    • Heavenfall Secrets
    • Wailing Waters
    • The Price of Greed
    • Cherished Serpent
    • What Wishes May Come
  • Ms. Holmes: A mystery series based on the Sherlock Holmes canon. It has been several years since the Great Detective disappeared, and crimes inspired by his old cases are taking London by storm. Sharlotte Holmes, a distant relation, has to fill in to solve the new crimes.
    • The Monster of the Baskervilles
    • The Five Orange Pips
    • The Adventure of the McKirk Ritual
    • The Case of the Dancing Men
  • Mystery Case Files: The Mystery Case Files agency investigates a number of supernaturally-themed mysteries.note 
    • Fate's Carnival
    • Dire Grove, Sacred Grove
  • Haunted Hotel: Paranormal investigators look into unsettling disturbances, all of which take place in hotels. note 
    • Eclipse
    • Ancient Bane
    • Death Sentence
    • Eternity
    • Phoenix
    • The X
    • The Axiom Butcher
    • Silent Waters
    • The Thirteenth
    • Personal Nightmare
    • The Evil Inside
    • Lost Dreams
    • Beyond the Page
    • Room 18
    • Lost Time
    • A Past Redeemed
  • Paranormal Files: Similar to Haunted Hotel, these games feature a character named Rick Rogers, who explores haunted and otherwise supernaturally charged locations to solve mysteries.
    • Fellow Traveler
    • The Tall Man
    • Enjoy the Shopping
    • Hook Man's Legend
    • Trials of Worth
    • The Trap of Truth
    • Ghost Chapter
    • Price of a Secret
    • Silent Willow
  • Detectives United: A Crisis Crossover series which brings together characters from Mystery Trackers, Grim Tales, and Haunted Hotel. They combine their efforts to solve cases that they would not be able to handle individually.
    • Origins
    • The Darkest Shrine
    • Timeless Voyage
    • Phantoms of the Past
    • Deadly Debt
    • Beyond Time
    • Anthology
  • Strange Investigations: Former police detective Dana Strange works as a private investigator after resolving the abduction of her sister Ursula.
    • Becoming
    • Two for Solitaire
    • Secrets Can Be Deadly
  • Crossroads is a horror series which takes place in the Crossroads bar, where Mistress Eve helps wayward souls conquer the demons of their pasts.
    • On a Just Path
    • Escaping the Dark
    • What Was Lost
  • Cursed Fables is a dark take on classic fairy tales, with the traditional roles of heroes and villains being sometimes shifted.
    • White As Snow
    • Twisted Tower
    • A Voice to Die For
  • Book Travelers sends the player into works of classic literature to save the worlds and characters from destruction by a mysterious enemy.
    • A Victorian Story
  • It Happened Here is a series of mystery games featuring Emily Smith, a widowed podcaster who uses her research skills to solve crimes.
    • Streaming Lives
    • Beacon of Truth
  • Knight Cats is about a world of Cat Folk and the medieval-inspired mystery adventures they experience.
    • Leaves on the Road
  • Wilde Investigations: Artemis Wilde tackles mysteries explicitly related to animals and animal behavior.
    • The Zoo Kerfuffle
  • Midnight Castle: This isn't a series, but a standalone Freemium game hosted on Big Fish Games, in which the player explores and interacts with characters in a large spooky castle.

Tropes commonly seen:

    open/close all folders 

    A-D 
  • Alliterative Family:
    • Anastasia, Anna, and Alice Gray in Grim Tales (mother, daughter, granddaughter); the installment Echo of the Past also introduces Anastasia's sister Alexandra
    • James and John Blackthorne in Haunted Hotel (brothers), with the later addition of James's wife Jessica
  • Alliterative Name: Rick Rogers of Paranormal Files
  • Always Identical Twins: If characters in their games are twins, they are almost always identical.
    • Anna and Luisa Gray of Grim Tales are not only identical themselves, but they had a pair of elder half-sisters who died years before they were born, and these were also identical twins. Zig-zagged, however, as in the later games Anna and her sister look different owing to the fact that Anna has been restored to her youth, and Luisa has not.
    • Daemon Park, in Paranormal Files, had an identical twin brother named Dylan who died before the series began.
    • Agent Dorian Brown and his brother Mortimer in Detectives United are a somewhat ambiguous example, as we never actually see either of them (since they're both invisible). However, their in-game appearances are identical, so they are effectively this trope, with the bonus of also having identical voices.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Some of the series fall into this.
    • The first Haunted Hotel game from Elephant, Eclipse, appears to have a late Victorian or Edwardian setting; Personal Nightmare is explicitly set in 1958, and Beyond the Page seems to be in the late 90s or early 2000s. Yet all of these games (and several others) have James Blackthorne as the player's companion, and he hasn't aged a day.
    • Mystery Trackers: Raincliff is another example, as the Brown family who serve as the primary antagonists are shown in photographs which are clearly from the 1800s, even though the game is implied to take place in the 1990s at the earliest.
    • Detectives United is ambiguous to the point of Anachronism Stew. There are personal communication devices which amount to pocket-sized computers, but also antique-style landline telephones and phone booths. The first game in particular also has a sort of Film Noir atmosphere to parts of it, which only makes it even more ambiguous.
    • Strange Investigations also has shades of this, as it comes across as largely very modern but some of the dates make no sense. The second game shows a photograph of Dana's partner Mal as a Marine in 1957, which would make him at least 83 years old if the game was taking place in 2022 (when it was released). While he does appear to be a little older than Dana, he doesn't look anywhere near his 80s.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: As usual, Rick Rogers is the initial player character of Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter. However, after the first few puzzles are completed, the player is then in control of his partner Rachel, because Rick has disappeared.
  • Animal Motif:
    • Strange Investigations has a recurring bee theme, owing to the friendship bracelet Ursula Strange was wearing the day of her disappearance.
    • The Detectives United have an owl motif in their sigil.
    • The Chimeras series involves many animals.
    • One installment of Grim Tales indicates that the Gray family emblem is a fox.
    • The Bennet family in the first installment of Paranormal Files has a raven motif on their property.
    • The castle in Cursed Fables: White as Snow has a bat motif on the coat of arms and other insignia; however, Queen Margaret's inner monologue observes that it's not supposed to look like this. It's an early hint that the Big Bad is a vampire.
  • Another Dimension:
    • The Surface series is based on this trope, although it's revealed in The Noise She Couldn't Make that the dimension in particular is a coma patient's mind.
    • The plot of Mystery Trackers: Mist Over Blackhill involves one of these.
    • The second and third installments of Detectives United include some focus on one of these; the second installment actually mentions two, but only one is seen.
    • In Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter, Rachel has to pay a few visits to what is identified as the spirit plane, which is a different layer of reality that only partially intersects with the one in which she lives.
    • The Book Travelers series runs on this trope, as the player character has to travel through the worlds of various pieces of literature. These are indicated to be real places, accessed through magic, and implied to be alternate dimensions.
  • Asshole Victim: A lot of the murder victims in the games, while not necessarily deserving of a vicious death, are definitely unpleasant people and are often guilty of heinous crimes.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Overlapping with Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The 20th and final installment of the Haunted Hotel series takes place at a location called the Hotel del Pasado. In Spanish, this literally means "the last hotel."
  • Bloody Horror: Some of the scarier installments of the various series fall into this, such as Haunted Hotel: The Axiom Butcher, which centers around the ritual antics of a serial killer. It's Bloodier and Gorier than any other game in that series.
  • Cat Folk: The population of Catstown, in the Knight Cats series, is made up entirely of these.
  • Cats Are Mean: In It Happened Here: Streaming Lives, Emily visits her friend Archie, who has a hairless cat named Gretta. Gretta is extremely ill-tempered and slashes Emily's wrist with her claws.
  • Christmas Episode: The Christmas Stories are this for their catalogue, as they're released in December each year.
  • Content Warnings: Usually averted by this developer, but there are some exceptions.
    • On the Big Fish Games page for the first Crossroads installment, the player is warned that it is a horror game which "features moments of psychological terror that some may find distressing."
    • The first installment of It Happened Here includes one of these during the opening credits, advising the player that the game contains graphic depictions of violence and "is not for the faint of heart."
  • Continuity Nod: Most games in the various mystery series frequently make Call Backs to earlier installments, as there's at least some continuity in them.
    • Raincliff's Phantoms is the sequel to Raincliff, and one of the Brown siblings is mentioned in Black Isle as having joined the agency; he appears briefly in the later installment Silent Hollow, and has a handful of minor mentions throughout the series. He eventually becomes a Player Character in Detectives United. One of the Browns' distant relatives is revealed to be the Big Bad in Raincliff's Phantoms and also in Detectives United: Origins.
    • One of the other Brown siblings from Raincliff is the Big Bad in Detectives United: Phantoms of the Past. The title of that installment is also a Call-Back to Raincliff, as the Brown siblings were known as "the phantoms of Raincliff" during that game.
    • Detectives United also includes various connections to the three characters' origin series. Grim Tales, in turn, makes occasional reference to the events of Detectives United.
    • Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence is the third appearance of James as the player's companion, and the opening cinematic includes references to the two previous cases they've solved together (Eclipse and Ancient Bane).
    • The final Haunted Hotel installment, A Past Redeemed, brings back elements and characters from previous games in the series, including James's cousin Rachel and the antagonist Valentine (who both appeared in The Evil Inside), and it's specifically noted to be taking place roughly six months after the previous game. There's also an ominous eclipse on the day of the wedding, as a subtle nod to James's debut appearance in the game Eclipse.
    • The entirety of Paranormal Files is an ongoing storyline about Rick Rogers and his paranormal investigations.
  • Cosmetic Award: The unlockable achievements in the collector's editions of their games.
  • Creator In-Joke: In many if not most of their games, you can expect to see an elephant with its trunk raised somewhere at least once. This can take the form of an item in a hidden object scene, an image on the wall, or any number of placements.
  • Crisis Crossover:
    • The Mystery Trackers rescue the player character of Haunted Hotel: Eternity, and help the player character (implied to be the same character) of the next installment, Phoenix, with the investigation at the arson-riddled Stone Spires Hotel.
    • The Detectives United series brings together James Blackthorne from the Haunted Hotel games, Anna Gray and her father Richard from Grim Tales, and Agents Brown and Shade from Mystery Trackers. They join forces to solve mysteries that would be impossible for them to handle on their own.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Occasionally, scenes from one series will appear in another. For example, the camper's dormitory in Mystery Trackers: Fatal Lesson is all but identical to Alice's university dorm room in Grim Tales: Guest From the Future.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • The player character of Mystery Trackers has one, although this isn't made clear until the installment The Secret of Watch Hill. Watch Hill was her hometown, which she left following the deaths of her parents and brother, and she must return there fifteen years later to deal with a related issue. Her painful past also comes up in Fatal Lesson, in which a flashback in the beginning shows her at the organization's camp as a young woman, learning to be a detective alongside Agent Shade; her inner monologue mentions that her family was killed a year earlier.
    • Agent Brown, of the Detectives United, has one as seen in his debut game, Mystery Trackers: Raincliff. It doesn't come to light in the DU series until the fourth installment, when his past catches up to him.
    • James Blackthorne of Haunted Hotel has a minor one of these, having once (accidentally) brought about the conviction of an innocent man. This is enough to make him the target of the justice-obsessed killer in Death Sentence.
    • Dana Strange of Strange Investigations is forever haunted by the abduction and murder of her younger sister.
    • Rick Rogers of Paranormal Files lost his mother to a house fire when he was just a child; she died saving him. He was then raised by his father, who died of an illness after Rick was an adult. He got started on his strange path in life when he was fired from his job and caught his girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The It Happened Here series is about a widow, Emily, who solves mysteries as her way of coping after the death of her husband. She is also a writer who runs a podcast. It's hard not to see her as a 21st century update on Jessica Fletcher.

    E-G 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Games made prior to the Mystery Trackers games had simplistic CGI characters and iffy gameplay. It wasn't until they produced The Void that they hit their stride.
    • The first Mystery Trackers game does not employ live actors as seen in the next few installments, and the CGI characters are less polished. Similarly, the games with live actors can come across this way to those familiar with the later games, as the use of live actors was dropped starting with the sixth installment.
    • The first four Haunted Hotel games come across this way because they were made by a different developer, who later sold the series to Elephant. The games from before the sale don't have any sort of cohesive storyline tying them together, and James Blackthorne was not added to the series until after Elephant purchased it; he debuted in Eclipse, though his last name wasn't given until later. Eclipse also doesn't animate the figures, as later installments do.
      • Also, in James's first three appearances, he dresses like a Victorian/Edwardian character and has long hair. Furthermore, these appearances do not give him a surname; in fact, Death Sentence goes to great lengths to avoid giving him more than a last initial, because the murderer in the game has the surname of Blackthorne. It's only starting with the installment Phoenix that he's given a last name and his modern appearance.
    • The early installments of most of the older series lack the interactive map used in later games, forcing the player to do a good deal of backtracking.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette:
    • Snow White, in Cursed Fables: White as Snow, has the same dark hair and pale skin as in the original fairy tale, but her complexion has an Undeathly Pallor to it. There's a reason, of course.
    • In the first installment of Book Travelers, Bertha Rochester - the mad wife of Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre - is depicted as one of these.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The agents in the Mystery Trackers are, usually, only ever identified by code names. The player character of most installments, however, goes unnamed all the way to the 16th game, The Fall of Iron Rock, where documents identify her as "Agent A." In the next game, The Secret of Watch Hill, her ID badge finally reveals that her code name is Agent Amber. Later in the game, the player finds a scientific award she received in high school, which confirms that her birth name really is Amber Edevane. It's never explained why Agent Amber and Agent Brown were allowed to use their real names as code names.
    • This is also true of some installments of Haunted Hotel, which has a few different protagonists. For example, in The X, the player is only ever called "brother" by his sister Samantha or "Mr. Detective" by the young girl he rescues. In other installments, like Eclipse and The Axiom Butcher, James Blackthorne is the player's companion and merely addresses them as "my friend." Averted by the few installments which have James as the player character, and also by the installments which have one-shot protagonists, all of whom have their names given in the games.
    • In the Royal Detective games, the princess is known simply as Princess.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Mystery Trackers: Train to Hellswich reveals that the Mystery Trackers had one of these back when they were founded as an order of medieval knights. The Black Swamp Society was, like the Mystery Trackers, on the constant watch for supernatural activity and persons with unusual powers; however, the Black Swamp members were committed to collecting such power for themselves with the intention of taking over the world. The Mystery Trackers knights fought them and sent them underground, but the organization survived and became the antagonists of the installment. It's implied that winning the game ends their plans for good.
      • The bonus chapter for Mystery Trackers: The Secret of Watch Hill involves a villainous version of the protagonist crossing over from a parallel universe, having been sent by the Dark Trackers agency to locate the game's MacGuffin. The chapter takes place concurrently with the main game, but the regular protagonist doesn't suspect a thing.
    • Beginning in the second installment, the Detectives United have to contend with their dark counterparts from another dimension. (Quite possibly this dimension is the same one which is home to the Dark Trackers agency mentioned above, although this has yet to be confirmed.) Anna Gray and Agent Brown's dark counterparts are the antagonists of the second game's bonus chapter, and Dark Anna is the antagonist of the third game.
    • The Big Bad of Grim Tales: Dual Disposition is Anna's identical doppelganger from another dimension. This is possibly the same doppelganger who debuted in Detectives United, but it's unconfirmed.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Zig-zagged. The most you'll get from the NPCs in some games is a reference to your title if you're a detective, but other games will state your gender. However, many of the longer-running series (and especially the more recent ones) tend to have protagonists who are given names and character designs.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: The Cursed Fables games are these. The player will eventually recognize a classic fairy tale as being the source material, but the roles of hero and villain are often reversed or otherwise altered, and the stories are given quite a bit of Grimmification. For example, in White as Snow, Snow White is a vampire, while in Twisted Tower, Rapunzel is a succubus chimera.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In Paranormal Files: Trials of Worth, Rick and Rachel end up trading bodies for a while thanks to some Applied Phlebotinum. Neither is particularly happy about it.
  • Freemium: In addition to Midnight Castle, there are mobile versions of some installments of the various series which fall into this. The games are free to play, with optional in-app purchases; the developers sometimes give away items or energy for these games on their Facebook page.
  • Full Motion Video: Surface and Mystery Trackers started out using these with their characters and cutscenes, but by their respective fourth games, have settled for using traditional animation of the characters and dropping the full motion cutscenes.
  • Functional Magic: The supernatural definitely exists in the worlds of most Elephant series, including psychic abilities, magic rituals, time travel, ghosts, and invisibility. It may not always be clear to the player why or how the magic in question works, but it's a real thing.
  • Girl in the Tower: Rapunzel, in Cursed Fables: Twisted Tower, is one of these just like in her original fairy tale. She's not in need of rescue this time, though. She's a soul-draining Eldritch Abomination who needs to be defeated. As the game progresses, the player learns that she was originally placed in the tower by her Good Parents to protect her, but then things went very badly.
  • Good Stepmother: Margaret, in Cursed Fables: White as Snow, wants to be this to her stepdaughter Snow White. Snow's own diary notes that she likes Margaret, who is very nice to her, and she's pleased that her father is Happily Married.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: The collector's editions of their games have assorted collections for the player to find, including morphing items, photograph fragments, and figurines. There are usually achievements to be unlocked by completing these collections.

    H-L 
  • Halloween Episode: The Halloween Stories are these for their catalogue, as they get released close to Halloween each year.
  • Happily Adopted: In Cursed Fables: White as Snow, Margaret finds the lost diary of her predecessor, Snow White's birth mother, whom she has been told died of an illness. The diary talks about how the king and queen were struggling with the Law of Inverse Fertility, but they found an abandoned baby in the forest and joyfully brought her home and named her Snow White. She turned out to be a vampire, who eventually killed her mother.
  • Hell Hotel: The settings of the Haunted Hotel games, of course, but these occasionally appear in some of the other series as well.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • The central plot of Grim Tales: The Generous Gift involves Anna's six-year-old daughter Alice being kidnapped and used as bait to lure Anna into a trap. Alice is later kidnapped again in Echo of the Past, though for a very different reason.
    • In Mystery Trackers: Queen of Hearts, the title character forces Professor Green's cooperation by holding his young daughter Felicia hostage. In the later installment Memories of Shadowfield, during the bonus chapter, Agent Blade does the same thing to Mr. Mason by kidnapping his grandson Bobby.
    • In Haunted Hotel: A Past Redeemed, when James Blackthorne hesitates to help the ghosts, they take his bride-to-be Jessica as a bargaining chip.
  • Hidden Object Game: Gamezebo considers them one of the best creators in the casual game industry, on par with Big Fish Games, Alawar, Blue Tea Games, Boomzap Entertainment, and AMAX Interactive. Their value to the genre has become even more pronounced in the first few years of the 2020s, as many of their fellow developers have either closed their doors or stopped producing games of this type.
  • Historical Domain Character: Charlotte Brontė is a main character in Book Travelers: A Victorian Story.
  • Hollywood Acid: Frequently used to dissolve locks and other metal items.
  • Identical Stranger: During the mystery in Strange Investigations: Becoming, Dana Strange encounters a police officer named Eve, who - apart from her blonde hair and sunglasses - looks just like Dana's dead sister Ursula. The end of the game heavily implies that this is Ursula, who is Not Too Dead to Save the Day.
    • Eve returns in Two for Solitaire, with Dana noting that she's very helpful but always disappears before Dana can ask her any questions. Near the end of the game, she finally reveals that she's an aspect of Dana's own subconscious, and that only Dana can see or hear her. Dana has her doubts as to whether this is true.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The Haunted Hotel titles began having this, albeit inconsistently, after the series was purchased by Elephant from its original developer. Beginning with the ninth game, the installments often reflect their numerical order in some way, either with Arabic or Roman numerals. For example, The Axiom Butcher is the eleventh game in the series (Axiom) while Room 18 is the eighteenth.
  • Improvised Screwdriver: In the various mystery games, the protagonist is more likely to use a coin to unscrew something than an actual screwdriver.
  • In the Blood: Being a member of the Mystery Trackers is frequently a hereditary thing. The installment Silent Hollow reveals that some of the present members of the order are descended from earlier members. This includes the Player Character herself, who is a descendant of the order's ancient nemesis Morpheus!
  • Innocent Bystander: If a murder victim isn't an Asshole Victim, they're usually one of these - just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: In the bonus chapter of Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence, one of these occasionally plays as background noise; however, it may take a little while before the player understands what they're hearing.
    Hush, little baby, don't say a word
    Auntie's gonna buy you a mockingbird
    And if that mockingbird don't sing
    Auntie's gonna break that birdie's wing
  • It's Personal: In the second Strange Investigations game, Dana's partner Mal says this about the murder of his old war buddy Robert. Prior to the series beginning, Dana herself felt this way about the abduction and murder of her sister, so she understands his attitude.
  • Kid from the Future: The title character in Guest From the Future, in the Grim Tales series, is Anna's future daughter Alice. Anna herself is also this to her own mother in the installment Echo of the Past.
  • Level-Map Display: One of their signature features is a Point-and-Click Map interface that eliminates backtracking. It's especially useful in the plot-heavy games.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Christmas Stories games are much more lighthearted than their other hidden object games, as they are mainly riffs on classic fairy tales and fantasy literature, and can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
  • Long Runner: Mystery Trackers, Haunted Hotel, and Grim Tales each have more than fifteen installments, which is quite unusual for the genre.

    M-R 
  • Magic Mirror: A recurring element in the Cursed Fables games is the presence of these. In Twisted Tower, a note mentions that there were once seven such mirrors owned by seven queens, which may be a clue as to how long this series is expected to last.
  • Meaningful Name: Some of the Mystery Trackers have code names related to their specific abilities. For example, Agent Wulf is a lycanthrope, and Agent Rayne can control the weather.
  • Medium Blending: The first several games of the Surface and Mystery Trackers series superimposed live actors moving against the painted backgrounds, but later dropped this technique in favor of photo-filtered renditions of the actors for a more seamless blending. Eventually the games shifted to being strictly animated, with no live actors except for voices.
  • Membership Token:
    • The Mystery Trackers carry badges identifying them as official agents.
    • The members of the Detectives United each wear a badge shaped like the series icon.
    • All of those who are chosen to be Book Travelers are given special amulets. These not only identify them, but allow them to create portals which take them into the world of books.
  • Metafictional Title: It Happened Here is the name of the game series, but within the games it's also the name of Emily Smith's true crime podcast.
  • Mission Control: Agent Shade is this for Anna, Brown, and James in Detectives United.
    • The Commander of the Mystery Trackers usually takes on the role in those games.
  • My Beloved Smother: The original Paranormal Files adventure features one of these, who in life was entirely too attached to her son.
  • No Name Given: Apart from protagonist Megan, none of the original characters in the Book Travelers series have names. The first game introduces men who are identified as the Great Librarian and the Renegade, but no other names are ever mentioned for them.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Starting with Black Isle, your Mystery Trackers character is accompanied by a miniature pinscher named Elf. It's later revealed that many agents in the Mystery Trackers have animal companions; in Silent Hollow, one of the Collection Sidequests involves collecting information cards about them.
    • Fate's Carnival introduces Isis, Madame Fate's cat, as the Master Detective's sidekick in her journey.
    • Anna, in some installments of Grim Tales and Detectives United, has Richard - the ghost of her father, bound into his own skull, which she carries with her everywhere. Later in Grim Tales, she instead has Anastasia, the ghost of her mother, whom she contacts through the use of a special piece of jewelry. In both cases, this overlaps with Dead Person Conversation.
    • During the events of Haunted Hotel: The Evil Inside, James is assisted by P.A.T.R.I.C.K., a talking handheld device which can detect paranormal activity. It's quite chatty and makes him feel like he has a friend with him for the investigation.
  • Occult Detective:
    • The Mystery Trackers are an agency that specializes in supernatural mysteries.
    • James Blackthorne in Haunted Hotel is this; his particular expertise is in helping ghosts with their Unfinished Business by solving mysteries related to the locations they haunt.
    • Rick Rogers of Paranormal Files is this, though it seems like he doesn't necessarily want to be, at first. He later embraces it wholeheartedly.
    • Anna Gray in Grim Tales is this, although the cases she solves (or at least the ones shown in the games) are somehow related to her own extended family.
    • The partnership of the Detectives United also falls into this, since occult detecting is what its members do on their own; they join forces when the cases are too big to handle alone.
    • Played with in Strange Investigations, where Dana Strange often takes on cases that seem to have a supernatural aspect to them, but turn out to have much more mundane resolutions. However, there is no logical explanation for the repeated appearance of a woman who looks just like Dana's murdered sister.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Possibly. The parents of Dana Strange, of Strange Investigations, lost their younger daughter to a psychotic kidnapper on her tenth birthday. The case went unsolved for years before ending with her murder, although it's not made clear whether or not their parents were still alive at that point.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: Sometimes used to get out of (or into) locked rooms.
  • Paranormal Investigation: The focus of a number of the series.
  • Passing the Torch: In the Mystery Trackers series, the installment Fatal Lesson introduces three cadet agents codenamed Slate, Black, and Ginger. They become the player character team in Forgotten Voices, embarking on their first field assignment.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Dana Strange of Strange Investigations repeatedly has nightmares about the abduction and murder of her younger sister.
  • Phony Psychic: These crop up occasionally in Paranormal Files, due in part to the fact that Rick Rogers has genuine Psychic Powers and has to contend with the fakes.
  • The Place: The Crossroads bar is this in the Crossroads series.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Prior to the beginning of Strange Investigations, Dana Strange's sister Ursula was kidnapped and murdered, which led to Dana becoming a police detective and then a private investigator.
  • Precious Puppy: The Mystery Trackers installment Silent Hollow reveals that the player's Canine Companion Elf has sired a litter of adorable puppies with his mate. A collection sidequest involves finding coins to spend on treats and goodies with which to pamper the fuzzy family.
  • Present Absence:
    • At the start of Detectives United: Phantoms of the Past, Agent Brown has been missing for two months, and remains absent for much of the game while his partners try to find him (and rescue him if need be) and figure out just what the heck he's been doing.
    • Rick Rogers is the series protagonist for Paranormal Files. In Ghost Chapter, however, he disappears under mysterious circumstances, and his partner Rachel spends the next thirteen years trying desperately to find him. As of the end of the game, he's still missing, and the next games continue the search.
    • In Royal Detective, part of the series plot is driven by the disappearance of Princess's mother.
    • Strange Investigations is heavily influenced by the murder of Ursula Strange, sister of series protagonist Dana, which took place before the first game ever began. Dana, who witnessed the murder after spending years trying to find Ursula, can't seem to move past it.
    • Oddly averted for Richard Gray, who has been missing from both the Grim Tales and Detectives United series since Grim Tales: Heritage. No one in either game series appears to take much notice of his absence, apart from a single line in Heritage about him being "on vacation", and another in Detectives United: Deadly Debt where Anna wishes he were available to help with the current case. (This comes across very strangely when the player remembers that Richard is dead, and exists in the games as a ghost.) The 22nd Grim Tales game Horizon of Wishes finally clears up the matter.
  • Public Domain Character: The Book Travelers series has several of these roaming the stories, including Jane Eyre, Tom Sawyer, and Sherlock Holmes.
  • Retired Badass: Strange Investigations: Two for Solitaire reveals that Dana's partner Malcolm is actually this. He's a decorated veteran of The Korean War; Dana sees a picture of him and his friend Robert from their time in the service.
  • Role Called:
    • The Strange Investigations series falls into this; the player character's name is Dana Strange, and she's a private investigator. Becomes a Title Drop at the end of the first game, Becoming, when her friend Malcolm suggests that they name their joint agency Strange Investigations.
    • Book Travelers is also both this and a Title Drop; as explained in the first game, A Victorian Story, Book Travelers (also called Wanderers) are individuals with the rare ability to physically travel into the world of a book's story. The player character is one of these.
    • Wilde Investigations is likewise both this and a Title Drop, as it's the business name of zoo investigator Artemis Wilde.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The captioning in the games sometimes contains various errors. For example, several examples of the detective's inner monologue in Mystery Trackers: Raincliff's Phantoms misidentify the setting as "Rainfall" rather than Raincliff.

    S-Z 
  • Scenery Porn: These games are beautifully rendered, but in the spookier supernatural settings such as Fate's Carnival or the Grim Tales series, it can lead to Scenery Gorn.
  • Screaming Woman: In some of the Haunted Hotel games, one of these can be heard as part of the ambient noise. It happens roughly every ten to fifteen minutes and, depending on how tense the current situation is, can be very unsettling.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In Cursed Fables: White as Snow, Margaret eventually discovers that Snow White killed her mother. Her father is completely unaware and thinks his first wife died of an illness, right up until Snow turns on him as well.
  • Sequel Hook: Frequently for the series that have ongoing storylines.
    • Grim Tales players spent several months waiting for the revelation of just how, and why, Anna's father Richard disappeared. Horizon of Wishes finally answers the question.
    • As of the end of Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter, series protagonist Rick Rogers is still missing, and the man who hired Rachel and her team to investigate his estate has disappeared and stolen some key items. In the next installment, Price of a Secret, he reappears in the bonus chapter - but not permanently, meaning there's going to be at least one more game before this is resolved.
    • Each installment of Detectives United ends with one of these.
  • Shared Universe: Several of the game series take place in the same universe. This is most obviously evidenced by the Detectives United series, but there are also instances of one series referencing another, such as the Mystery Trackers assisting the player in two of the Haunted Hotel investigations.
    • The Grim Talesnote  games take place in the same universe as the Mystery Case Files series. In the bonus chapter of the GT installment The White Lady, it's revealed that Anna's father Richard attended a school founded by Alister Dalimar, the father of MCF Big Bad Charles Dalimar. (As noted above, Elephant was the developer for two games in the MCF series.)
    • The Halloween Stories games may possibly be part of the same universe as Grim Tales and its relations, because a picture of Richard Gray appears in one scene of Halloween Stories: The Neglected Dead. However, the picture is only in the background, so it's equally possible that the Grim Tales games exist as fiction in the Halloween Stories universe.
    • The Christmas Stories and Knight Cats series are implied to take place in the same universe, as the residents of Catstown were mentioned in the bonus chapter of A Christmas Tree a few years before the Knight Cats series debuted.
  • Ship Tease: The first installment of Book Travelers heavily implies this between protagonist Megan and the character called Renegade. The bonus chapter ends with her writing a letter to him and signing it "your Megan."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Haunted Hotel: Eclipse is something of an homage to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson; James dresses very similarly to the famous detective, and the player character talks about what good friends they are and how they've solved many cases together. James repeats the look in his next two appearances as well.
    • Haunted Hotel: Beyond the Page makes a very obvious one to the Harry Potter books, with James mentioning "the soul artifacts in those wizard boy books you showed me."
    • The entire Ms. Holmes series is a shout-out to Sherlock Holmes.
    • In the Grim Tales series, Anna eventually marries a man named Dorian Black. He takes her surname after the marriage, which means that he is now known as Dorian Gray.
    • Also in Grim Tales, when Anna's maternal aunt Alexandra is shown, she wears an outfit which is remarkably similar to that of Ciri in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
    • The Mystery Trackers installment Train to Hellswich reveals that one of the agency's members is called Agent Carter.
    • The bonus chapter of Strange Investigations: Becoming has a few references to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as the main antagonist is a headless figure.
    • Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter includes a board game which seems to be heavily based on the one from Jumanji.
    • The Collection Sidequest in Cursed Fables: White as Snow has the player looking for little dolls. Seven of them are identified on the collectible screen as Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, and Dopey. Also, the witch who aids the player after the first act is named Fringilla.
    • The Book Travelers series is one to various pieces of classic literature, beginning with Jane Eyre.
    • One of the leaders of the witches' coven in Cursed Fables: Twisted Tower is named Hermione.
  • Sins of Our Fathers:
    • The Russell family in Paranormal Files: Price of a Secret turn out to be endangered by a curse that was laid on their ancestor roughly a hundred years earlier.
    • The witches' coven in Cursed Fables: Twisted Tower is reluctant to allow Genhelia (the Player Character) to join their ranks because her mother betrayed them twenty years earlier. Genhelia finds a note from her mother which suggests that the reality of the betrayal isn't exactly what they think it is, but the game never fully clarifies the matter one way or the other.
  • Siren Song: The use of one of these is a key plot point in Cursed Fables: Voice to Die For, in which The Little Mermaid is actually a siren.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Artemis Wilde's entire schtick, in the Wilde Investigations games, is being able to communicate with animals and learn what's really causing the most recent mishap.
  • Stable Time Loop: Completely averted in Grim Tales and (by extension) Detectives United. In each installment, Anna travels back to the past and changes details and events in order to prevent modern-day tragedies from taking place.
    • This also happens in the bonus chapter of Mystery Trackers: Silent Hollow, as the player must travel back in time to stop a fiend from wiping her fellow agents out of existence; she undoes all the damage he had already caused when she began her case.
  • Standalone Episode: Each game is basically designed to be this, so that new players don't have to learn a lot of backstory in order to enjoy the puzzles and current storyline, but several of the series do have ongoing plots which add a little something extra for fans who play them in order.
    • The Void is this for the Mystery Trackers games, as it has virtually no connection to the rest of the series and never gets referenced by any of the subsequent games.
    • Haunted Hotel has a few installments which really are this, being completely disconnected from any other games in the series and lacking recurring characters.
    • Each installment of Cursed Fables falls into this, as they are entirely distinct from each other. There is a hint that they might be connected through the existence of Magic Mirrors, but this is the only common thread they have displayed thus far.
  • Stock Puzzle: Klotski and Towers of Hanoi puzzles are seen occasionally in the various puzzle series.
  • Strangely Specific Horoscope: An extremely (and oddly) detailed palm reading is the catalyst for the events of Haunted Hotel: A Past Redeemed.
  • String Theory: Boards of this nature are not uncommon in the mystery-themed games.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Beginning in the installment Mist Over Blackhill, the player character of Mystery Trackers has a voice actress.
  • Tagalong Kid: Some installments of Grim Tales which take place after the events of Guest From the Future have Anna's young daughter Alice taking a role in the plot.
  • Time Skip:
    • There's a time skip of nearly seven years between Grim Tales: Guest From the Future and the next installment, The Generous Gift. At the end of Guest From the Future, Anna receives confirmation that she's pregnant with her daughter Alice; the events of The Generous Gift take place on Alice's sixth birthday. In the later installment Echo of the Past, which marks Alice's last appearance in the series, she looks to be about nine or ten.
    • The first ten or so minutes of Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter take place in 2020. We know this because of a newspaper article about the incident which is dated July 30, 2020, and which states that it happened a week earlier. The game then jumps ahead thirteen years, according to the onscreen captioning.
      • The next installment, Price of a Secret, is implied to be set the following year. Rachel mentions that it's now "more than" thirteen years since the incident; also, two of her team members, Daemon and Mia, got married and took a honeymoon between the events of the previous game and this one.
    • Haunted Hotel: A Past Redeemed is explicitly stated to take place six months after the previous installment, Lost Time.
  • Title Drop:
    • The phrase "haunted hotel" crops up occasionally in the Haunted Hotel games. Some of the games in the series also get their subtitle dropped at least once.
    • The Mystery Trackers are an organization whose name gets mentioned repeatedly throughout the Mystery Trackers series. Raincliff, Black Isle, and Silent Hollow are both the titles and the locations of those games, so their names come up a number of times; the installments The Four Aces and Queen of Hearts are both named for their major villains, so those names are also dropped frequently.
    • At the end of the first Detectives United game, Agent Shade proposes the series title as the name for the partnership. The name gets mentioned periodically throughout the rest of the series.
    • The games in the Crossroads series all take place (at least partly) in an inn by that name.
    • Paranormal Files is both the name of the series and the name of Rick Rogers's paranormal investigation agency.
    • Similarly, Strange Investigations is both the name of the series and the name of Dana Strange's private investigation firm.
    • In the 21st installment of the Grim Tales, the player finally learns why the series has that name. Anna's mother, before marrying Richard Gray, was Anastasia Grim; her sister, Alexandra Grim, was a famous adventurer, and her exploits were published as a series known as Grim Tales.
  • Took the Wife's Name: Mentioned briefly in Grim Tales: The Generous Gift, when Anna finds the formal documentation regarding the subject. Her husband, Dorian, has changed his last name to hers rather than asking her to take his, and she acknowledges that she appreciates it because her name is synonymous with her detective work.
  • Two Guys and a Girl:
    • The Brown siblings in Mystery Trackers: Raincliff
    • James, Brown, and Anna in Detectives United
    • The three young people captured by the ghost in Haunted Hotel: Silent Waters, and the original hotel owners in Haunted Hotel: Lost Time
    • Junior agents Black, Slate, and Ginger in Mystery Trackers: Fatal Lesson and Forgotten Voices
    • Daemon, Isaac, and Mia, who join the team of investigators in the Paranormal Files series beginning with Ghost Chapter, and the Harding siblings who appear as ghosts in Price of a Secret
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: The Paranormal Files series gets kicked off when, prior to the beginning of the first game, protagonist Rick Rogers came home to find his best friend in bed with his girlfriend - to whom he had been planning to propose.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: The bonus chapter of Strange Investigations: Two for Solitaire is all about this. Rather than solving a crime, Dana is asked to help a young man puzzle out the fact that the only thing his beloved grandfather left him is a key. The complete lack of an antagonist makes this chapter Lighter and Softer than most of Elephant's mystery fare.
  • Unexplained Accent: Alice Gray, Anna's young daughter in some later installments of Grim Tales, has a strange British accent reminiscent of Peppa Pig. Neither Anna nor her husband Dorian speak with such an accent - nor does the older Alice, in her appearances - so it's unclear why the child version of the character does.
  • Unfinished Business: If a ghost is wandering around in an Elephant game, they invariably have some of this. Unfortunately, more often than not, said unfinished business will have turned the spirit malevolent.
  • We Can Rule Together: The offer is made in Cursed Fables: White as Snow; the Big Bad is willing to share power with Queen Margaret in exchange for access to the Magic Mirror. Margaret's response is a Big "NO!".
  • Wedding Finale: The focus of A Past Redeemed, the 20th and final installment of the Haunted Hotel series, is James Blackthorne's wedding.
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
  • Woman Scorned: Or man, sometimes. Many of the mysteries in the darker games revolve around this trope, usually involving a Love Triangle of some sort.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Children are not immune from danger and death in some of these games. Haunted Hotel in particular has a fair few installments in which children are kidnapped, threatened, and even sometimes murdered.
  • You Killed My Father: Cursed Fables: Twisted Tower gives this Freudian Excuse to Rapunzel, whose parents were murdered by a Torches and Pitchforks-wielding mob. After the same mob tried and failed to burn her at the stake, Rapunzel surrendered to her monstrous impulses in order to avenge her parents, whom she loved.
  • You Have to Burn the Web: Crops up from time to time as a puzzle solution.

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