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Video Game / Covert Front

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Kara on assignment.

A point and click adventure game series created by Mateusz Skutnik of Pastel Games. Skutnik considers the third episode to be his best work so far.

The series takes place in an Alternate History 1904, where a technological revolution in the previous century has led to a premature World War I. In the midst of this conflict, a multitude of specialists from diverse fields are brought to a secretive Berlin conference called "Knowledge for Victory." 96 of those specialists disappeared after the conference ended.

Onto the scene comes secret agent M-24-7-69, aka Kara. Her fellow agents from the Intelligence Agency General Headquarters (IAGH) have disappeared in the course of their own investigations into the whereabouts of those specialists. She is assigned to look into the disappearance of one of the scientists who attended the conference, Karl von Toten. Kara begins by investigating von Toten's now deserted mansion, where there are hints of both a grisly crime and some peculiar scientific experiment in which von Toten was involved.

Kara's investigation of the property and other areas soon turns up clues pointing to something that could have a major impact not only on the outcome of the war, but on the future of technological development. And it appears she is not the only one looking into these strange happenings....

The games released so far are:

These games provide examples of:

  • Alternate History: Type III.
  • Always Night:
    • The first two games play this straight.
    • The third game plays with this, having an intro that passes through a day-long train ride before the game proper starts in nighttime, and the final chapter is set during early dawn.
    • Averted in the fourth game, which opens with a cloudy day and stays so for the rest of the game.
  • Anachronism Stew: Aside from all the highly advanced tech thanks to Alternate History, there's also the fact that the secretive conference was organized by Isaac Newton according to the newspaper in the library. No real mystique surrounds the latter, meaning that the people of this time apparently don't think that it's too unusual; a full explanation is pending.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There are quite a few German words and phrases sprinkled about the world. One puzzle solution actually hinges on you figuring out that "Wien" means Vienna.
  • The Butler Did It: The first game hints at the butler, Manfred, having been responsible for von Toten's disappearance. It's true; Manfred was an Imperial agent sent to get the machine from his "master" the scientist.
  • Clarke's Third Law: A note written by one of the scientists in the bunker to his wife notes how the machine that produces objects from a person's thoughts is more like magic than technology.
  • Cool Helmet: Manfred Nikolai's Pickelhaube.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Kara is handy with a crowbar as Manfred finds out the hard way.
  • Call-Back: As Kara prepares to enter the building that Von Toten's study is in, she notices how similar it is to his mansion.
    • Also, as an easter egg, if you type in some certain words, you can create other objects with the machine that are replicas of some items found in the mansion.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the finale Manfred is clever enough to have the city locked down by his troops and surround Karl's hideout but he still walks in all alone and unarmed. No holds barred crowbar-whacking ensues.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Manfred, both in relation to his master von Toten and to the Empire.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Kara dresses in German officer's clothing to drive out of an airfield.
  • Drone of Dread: A milder example is the howling breeze which replaces the background music in the dim-lit and character-void Zurich library.
  • Fakeout Escape: In the third episode, Kara pulls this trope off by leaving her coat on the ground and hiding in a high corner of her jail cell, out of sight. The warden passes by and notices the "empty" cell, and when he goes inside and picks up Kara's coat, she gets the jump on him.
  • Left the Background Music On: The waltz-like music in the intro turns out to be coming from Kara's radio.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When in the finale Manfred boasts to Kara nad Karl all by himself and unarmed, Kara is pretty much fed up with him at this point and crowbar-whacks him with extreme prejudice.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The games take a page from Mateusz's other big series in terms of quiet background effects and minimal character interaction. The Zurich library is the most prominent example being comletely devoid of any characters, dimly lit and the background music is replaced by howling breeze.
  • Off-Model: Kara's arms seem a bit oddly drawn in the second game.
  • Overt Operative: Kara has a bit of this, what with the greatcoat and the tendency to execute huge jumps and flips while trying to be stealthy.
  • Red Herring: Karl Von Toten's mansion in the first game is littered with these, many of them viewable up close but not interactive or important. One of these even comes around as a Brick Joke in the fourth game.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: Borderline. A painting of a young Albert Einstein is on the wall of the hotel room in Zurich. While Einstein did much of his famous work in Zurich, it wouldn't be for decades and in 1904 he was working at the Swiss patent office.
  • Scenery Porn: The luscious detail put into every screen really defines the experience.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each game gets progressively larger amounts of plot and puzzles. Indeed, the third game has perhaps the most plot of any game at Pastel Games to date.
  • Series Continuity Error: The code to the storage room in 2nd game is generated randomly. In the third game the same code is brought up again in one of the coded transmissions in the hotel room hideout ... and is also randomly generated. Thus it's no wonder it's different.
  • Shout-Out: The first game's subtitle, "All Quiet on the Covert Front".
    • The chair that appears in Karl von Toten's reality-bending study is the same one that recurs throughout Submachine. In addition, the void outside the study looks a lot like the one outside various Submachine rooms.
    • Later, Von Toten's lab is at first blocked off by a blue force field, and Von Toten himself is seen building a Coordinate Device from Submachine 3.
    • Easily missed, but in a drawer in Von Toten's study is a note that seems to represent the moving cubes from Submachine 6.
    • Two projectable doors are similar to the projected portal in Submachine: Future Loop Foundation.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Soothing waltz-like music plays as scenes from the carnage of war are shown in the intro.
  • Spinning Paper: Done at the beginning of the first game to set up the whole war backstory.
  • Spooky Silent Library: The Hauptbibliothek in the 3rd game, where the music stops and is replaced with a cold breeze once Kara breaks in. And then Manfred's goons kidnap her just as she finds a lead on Von Toten's location.
  • Steampunk, edging towards Diesel Punk.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Manfred in the 4th game is bold enough to, after having the place locked down by his troops, walk in on Karl and Kara all by himself and without bringing any weaponnote . He quickly learns his last lesson in life as Kara crowbar-whacks him with extreme prejudice.
  • Wham Shot: Throughout the series there are a lot of hints at a major twist, particularly when you get to the study. But confirmation doesn't arrive until the very end of the fourth (and currently final) episode, as Kara finally approaches Von Toten, and the camera cuts to reveal that he is currently inventing the Coordinate Device.