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Elephant Games is a Russian 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.
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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 a 2022 calendar featuring their most popular characters) and occasionally leak advance hints about upcoming games.

    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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Strange Investigations: Former police detective Dana Strange works as a private investigator after resolving the abduction of her sister Ursula.
    • Becoming
    • Two for Solitaire
  • Cursed Fables is a dark take on classic fairy tales, with the traditional roles of heroes and villains being sometimes shifted.
    • White As Snow
  • 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.

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    A-G 
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 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 bonus chapter of the collector's edition of Mystery Trackers: The Secret of Watch Hill 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.
  • 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 most games in the series.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • 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 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.
  • 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 help the player character of Haunted Hotel: 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 the site of the incident which killed the player character's parents and brother, and she must return to the place fifteen years later to deal with a related issue. It 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 sister.
  • 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 later installments, and the CGI characters are less polished.
    • 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 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.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • The agents in the Mystery Trackers (with the unexplained exception of Agent Brown) are only ever identified by code names. The player character of most installments, however, goes unnamed all the way to the 18th game, Fatal Lesson; finally, in a flashback midway through the game, the Commander of the Mystery Trackers addresses her as "Amber." It's not clear whether that is her real name or if she is Agent Amber; since many of the Mystery Trackers use colors as code names, it could be either - or, as in the case of Agent Brown, both.
    • This is also true of some installments of Haunted Hotel, which does not have a recurring protagonist. 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 Room 18, in which the player is James's brother John.
    • In the Royal Detective games, the princess is known simply as Princess.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Averted in the Surface installments The Pantheon and Game of the Gods, where you play as the protagonist and her appearance is shown in the opening scenes.
      • In The Soaring City and Reel Life, there is nothing stated about your appearance, but your gender is stated with voiceovers.
    • You play as Fred, Scrooge's estranged nephew, in their version of A Christmas Carol; nothing of your appearance is mentioned.
    • The player character of the Haunted Hotel games varies with each installment. In a few installments, the player is James Blackthorne, in which case we sometimes see him in cutscenes and the like; but James more commonly appears as the player's friend, colleague, or relative, and when this is so, the most we see of the player character is their hands.
    • It's implied in the Mystery Trackers games that the player character is usually if not always female; Paxton Creek Avenger shows the character wearing high heeled boots and the coat's hem resembles a dress. In The Secret of Watch Hill and Fatal Lesson, she has spoken dialogue and is definitely a woman. (In most installments, the player character is the same person, as evidenced by the presence of Canine Companion Elf.) The 20th installment, Forgotten Voices, averts the trope entirely by bringing back the junior agents from Fatal Lesson and making them the player characters; their appearances are clear.
    • Grim Tales: Colour of Fright gives you your first glimpse of your character, psychic detective Anna Gray: you're seen in a photograph and while your face remains obscured, you're revealed to have auburn hair and an average body type which suggests middle age. By the time of the following game, The Final Suspect, you've become a white-haired, somewhat chunky, elderly Jessica Fletcher type. However, in Guest From the Future, you're a fairly young woman with blonde hair. (This is clarified in The Heir - Anna's father performed a ritual which restored her to her youth - and reiterated in the opening cinematics of Crimson Hollow.)
    • Completely averted in the Detectives United series, where you always play as one of the three members of the group, and each of them has a portrait on the screen to show you their appearance. The two you are not playing at a given moment are often seen as well. It's worth noting that in the fourth installment, which is centered around the absence of Agent Brown, his portrait is replaced by a question mark to indicate his disappearance.
      • In the bonus chapter of the fourth installment, you play as two new and temporary characters, but these are also seen during the course of the chapter.
    • The player character of Cursed Fables: White as Snow is Margaret, the stepmother, who is seen on the screen many times.
  • Freemium: In addition to Midnight Castle, there are mobile versions of Strange Investigations and Grim Tales 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.
  • 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-R 
  • 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.
  • Haunted 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The same identical stranger appears in the bonus chapter of the game as well, this time as a bus driver. Dana does not comment on the resemblance this time, but it's clearly the same individual.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: In 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
  • Kid from the Future: The title character in Guest From the Future, in the Grim Tales series, is Anna's future daughter Alice.
  • 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.
  • Long Runner: Mystery Trackers, Haunted Hotel, and Grim Tales each have at least twenty installments, which is quite unusual for the genre.
  • Magic Mirror: Seen in Cursed Fables: White as Snow, where it is of course the stepmother's prized possession. She uses magic to hide it from casual observers.
  • Medium Blending: The first three games of the Surface and Mystery Trackers series superimposed live actors moving against the painted backgrounds, but have since dropped it in favor of photo-filtered renditions of the actors for a more seamless blending.
  • Mission Control: Agent Shade is this for Anna, Brown, and James in Detectives United.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Starting with Black Isle, your Mystery Trackers character is accompanied by a miniature pinscher named Elf. It's then revealed that most field 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 Grim Tales and Detectives United, has Richard - the ghost of her father, bound into his own skull, which she carries with her everywhere.
  • 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.
    • Anna Gray in Grim Tales is this, although most of the cases she solves (or at least the ones shown in the games) are somehow related to her own 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 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.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • The last name "Blackthorne" gets used a number of times in their various games; it's the last name of the Big Bad in both Haunted Hotel: Death Sentence and Grim Tales: Guest From the Future. It's also James's last name in the Haunted Hotel and Detectives United series. There is nothing to indicate that he is related to either Big Bad, nor that they have any connection to each other.
    • Dorian is the first name of both Agent Brown (from Mystery Trackers: Raincliff and the Detectives United series) and Anna Gray's husband in Grim Tales.
    • The protagonist of the Paranormal Files series is Richard Rogers, although his name is shortened as Rick. In Grim Tales, Richard Gray is Anna's father.
    • In Haunted Hotel, James's cousin is named Rachel Collins. In Paranormal Files, Rick's partner is the similarly named Rachel Cowell.
  • 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 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 junior 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 day her younger sister was kidnapped.
  • 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.
  • 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 game continues 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 oddly when the player remembers that Richard is dead, and exists in the games as a ghost.) The devs have stated that they will explain his disappearance in a future game, but it's unclear as to when.
  • 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.

    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: 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.
  • 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 one 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.)
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Stock Puzzle: Klotski and Towers of Hanoi puzzles are seen occasionally in the various puzzle series.
  • Stock Subtitle:
    • Haunted Hotel: The X
    • Surface: Mystery of Another World
      • Surface: Return to Another World
    • Grim Tales: The Legacy
    • Detectives United: Origins note 
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The first ten or so minutes of Paranormal Files: Ghost Chapter take place in 1998. We know this because there is then a time skip to 2021, and a subtitle on the screen notes that it is thirteen years later.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 original hotel owners in Haunted Hotel: Lost Time
    • Junior agents Black, Slate, and Ginger in Mystery Trackers: Fatal Lesson and Forgotten Voices
    • Rachel's team of investigators in the Paranormal Files series, beginning with Ghost Chapter
  • 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.
  • You Have to Burn the Web: Crops up from time to time as a puzzle solution.
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