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Video Game / AMBER: Journeys Beyond

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Also known as Amber: Journeys Beyond Death, this is a 1996 First-Person pre-rendered adventure game. The one and only game developed by Hue Forest Entertainment, essentially two people, Frank and Susan Wimmer. Similar in background and story to Dark Fall, this could essentially be classified as a Ghost-Hunting Adventure game.

One night in the mountains of North Carolina, you, a Featureless Protagonist are called upon by a friend named Joe, to meet paranormal scientist Dr. Roxanne ("Roxy") Westbridge, and assist her in her investigation of what happened to the various ghosts haunting the house she's stationed at. Unfortunately, on your way there, your car just happens to bump into a ghost on the road, making you crash into the nearby lake. By the time you recover and reach the house, you find her out cold in the garage. From there on, it's up to you to uncover what she was up to, and finish her work, if you can.

Amber: Journeys Beyond provides examples of:

  • Always Night: The game takes place at nighttime in the present day, Edwin's scenario is a foggy snowstorm, and Brice's is in daylight.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Roxy's camcorder log near the beginning, describing her work on the house up until she went comatose.
  • Arc Symbol: Each time you return to reality after one of the ghosts passes on, your PEEK shows an image of Roxy's face and a ball of light, signifying that one of her astral fragments is recovered. This image is also shown on the box cover.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Most of the ghosts you find had died for serious reasons. Margaret being unable to face her husband's death, and Brice for murdering Mandy and her family. But Edwin? The poor kid just drowned in a sledding accident.
  • As You Know: Said word for word in Joe's email to you. The whole speech is to describe how you supposedly already know who Roxy is, what she and her team have been developing up to now, and why he thinks you're the best person to go check on what she's doing because she worked with you before on "dream research".
  • Big "NO!":
    • Brice screams this as his soul is presumably taken to hell.
    • Margaret lets out a small string of them when discovering Ted's fate on a telegram.
  • Brick Joke: In the intro sequence, a ghost causes you to crash your car into the lake on your way to the house. In Edwin's scenario, you have to control a toy car that he drove into the lake, which was presumably how he drowned.
    • Doubled upon at the end. When Roxy is back to normal, she asks you where you parked the car.
  • Blackout Basement: When you first arrive at the house and after helping each of the ghosts pass on, the house's power goes out and has to be reset using a breaker, with creepy red emergency lights to guide you to it. The last time you do this, the breaker also electrocutes you through the AMBER you're wearing.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Brice was obsessed with thinking UFOs were going to find him, and had been planning to take Mandy with him when they did. His hideout has articles he'd put up as evidence, and you have to raise a signal flag that would supposedly call said aliens.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Played straight with Edwin. Being only a young kid, his overactive imagination allows him to believe his toys are alive, that the direction a weather vane is facing controls the direction the wind is blowing rather than the other way around, and he doesn't even comment on his own death, compared to the other two ghosts.
  • Closed Circle: The road you were originally driving on has a sign that reads, "Road to Nowhere", and trying to walk it on foot simply makes two screens repeat themselves.
  • Cool Key: The key to Margaret's bedroom, which appears through a ball of light that comes out of the TV in the master bedroom, and drops itself into a nearby drawer.
  • Dark Is Evil: A brief visual cue that Brice is less friendly than the other ghosts, seen first as a dark humanoid shape appearing near the gazebo for a few seconds, and the black color of his spiritual self at the end of his scenario.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: Subverted. This is what one of the ghosts first sees when you use the AMBER, though none of them notice that it's their own body.
  • Divine Intervention: Near the end of the game, after restarting the generator shocks you to death, an angel stops you from passing on, stating that you have to save Roxy, and, upon returning you to your body, gives you the wisdom needed to overcome the final obstacle.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Each of the ghosts act this way when you first make contact with them, but Brice especially qualifies.
  • Driven to Suicide: At least two of the house's past victims were.
  • Drone of Dread: The AMBER gives off a low, ambient hum while you're wearing it, which, coupled with the ghostly echoes it enables you to hear, greatly fits this trope.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Going to Margaret's mirror before using the AMBER gives you a fleeting glimpse of her appearing in it.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Apart from driving a car, you're never described or named in any way during the introduction.
  • 15 Puzzle: Using pieces of a telegram ripped up by Margaret which reveals that Ted never made it back from the war, after all.
  • Flashback Effects / Decade-Themed Filter: Edwin's sequence (1910's-1920's) looks like sepia and blue toned photographs with talking toys and moving by a toy car on a roller coaster. Margaret (1943) looks like World War 2 era photographs, and you move between rooms by changing the radio station. Brice's sequence (early 1960's) has the Cinemascope wide-screen and oversaturated color of the era's B-movies of which he was fond.
  • Flawed Prototype: Part of the reason Joe sends you down to Roxy's house is out of concern that the equipment she's testing, including the AMBER she used, is in very early prototype stages.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Roxy, being the CEO of Bio-Psi labs, adores giving their devices acronyms. From the BAR, (Bulbic Activity Reader), that detects Electromagnetic Ghosts, to the titular AMBER (Astral Mobility By Electromagnetic Resonance} headset, which provides the means to literally enter the minds of said ghosts.
  • Ghost Amnesia: A book in the house hints at this, among other speculations of what ghosts may experience. Using the AMBER to see the memories of the ghosts around the house, proves this to be true.
  • Haunted House: Where the game is set. Unlike most examples, it looks clean and lived in, partly justified with the renovations Roxy had to do to hook up all her equipment.
  • Hearing Voices: Natch, given the fact that half of the game involves ghost-hunting. There's a sensor you can use that picks up past voices from doorknobs, and the AMBER lets you do this as well.
  • Hedge Maze: Brice's scenario is boxed in by giant walls of weeds, to the point that they obscure where the house would be in his time period. He's also really irritated by them, being a gardener.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Probably the reason why Brice decided to kill Mandy and her parents when she refused to go out with him.
  • Interface Screw: While controlling Edwin, the area on the frozen lake is very hard to navigate due to a heavy winter fog that blocks out nearly everything nearby short of one screen, combined with an unnecessary set of extra cursors in this level that jump by a diagonal movement between screens, rather than forward or turning.
  • I See Dead People: Roxy's gadgets let you do this.
  • Left the Background Music On: The music in Margaret's world comes from radio stations, complete with period-appropriate commercials in between songs. Tuning between stations is also how you move between rooms in the house.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: According to the game files, the music clips that make up the transitions into and out of the ghosts' worlds are at least 30 seconds longer than the actual scenes containing them.
  • Magic 8-Ball: Roxy has a pyramidal, Illuminati-themed one on her office desk, which the player can use like the real thing.
  • Magical Security Cam: The various CCTV cameras around the house, which automatically zoom and track where the hauntings are, complete with dramatic music.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Roxy's eagerness to continue her research made her go comatose and scattered her mind among the 3 spirits due to "fragmentation errors" in the AMBER. The way to fix this is by helping the ghosts pass on, allowing those mental fragments to be picked up by her machines.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: In the end cutscene, when the player reunites Roxy's mind with her body using the AMBER, it explodes, taking the garage with it, yet Roxy walks out of this unscathed.
  • Number of the Beast: The lock on the secret hatch to Brice's hideout is set at '666' when you find it, though it isn't the right code. Doubles as Foreshadowing.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Edwin's sequence is largely home to Christmas tunes played on chimes, fitting the setting, but their bass lines are filled with creepy sorts of instruments that make them sound just a little off.
  • Painting the Medium: Each time you make contact with the ghosts, the gameplay window changes to match their respective time period.
  • Period Piece: What each of the ghosts' settings are. Margaret's is the most prominent, showing how the house's furniture and appliances looked in the 1940's.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: At one point in the game, Roxy's astral spirit talks to you on the house phone, telling you what happened and how to save her. She's aware not only that her experiment went awry, but also that she ended up in the limbo-worlds the ghosts inhabit.
  • Portal Network: Each of the ghosts' environments are accessed through specific areas in and around the house, marked by glowing sources of light and one of the ghosts wailing nearby. Naturally, they shut after the respective ghost passes on.
  • Reprise Medley: The end credits mixes the game's theme with snippets from the various ghost worlds.
  • Rule of Three: There are 3 ghosts to aid in the game, in 3 different locations around the house, each requiring one of three items to access, and three fragments of Roxy's mind to collect.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slow Electricity: At the end of Brice's scenario, he hears an alien-sounding noise while the lights in his hideout click off bulb by bulb. He thinks it's a UFO coming to get him, only to be drawn into a vortex to Hell instead.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: An optional puzzle in Margaret's sequence has a set of decorative tin boxes, where opening one produces part of a sentence. Playing them all in order reveals a man's voice saying, "I miss you, Maggie."
  • Stalker with a Crush: Brice would stop at nothing to make Mandy his. And he has a shrine of her in his underground hideout, for good measure. To drive the point home, there's a letter from her in the shrine where she tells him she doesn't like him and how her father will fire him if he doesn't leave her alone; When the player reads it, Brice's only comment on the letter is this-
  • Stock Scream: During the Impending Doom P.O.V. scene on the TV, the ghost in question gives out a low-pitched version of the Howie scream.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Going underneath the frozen lake is completely harmless to Edwin, though likely handwaved by him being a ghost.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Roxy's computer is inaccessible until the end of the game. Turns out the "wisdom" the angel gave you was her password all along.
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: Mild example. Things start going crazy when Roxy decided to decorate Margaret's room with World War II posters, the spirit in question responds by locking that room from the inside and messing with the house's lights.