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Video Game / Dark Fall

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"Oh Nigel, what have you done? Oh God! What have we done?"

A series of Point-and-Click adventure games that fall squarely in the horror genre, created by Jonathan Boakes.

The first game, Dark Fall: The Journal, was released in 2004. It takes place at Dowerton, an abandoned West Country train station and hotel. The player character's brother is attempting to renovate it into a bed and breakfast. It turns out that the train station has a Dark and Troubled Past involving many mysterious disappearances over the years and apparent paranormal activity. Your character receives a panicked message on your answering machine, leading you to hitch on out to the train station in the wee hours to investigate the matter. When you arrive, no one is least no one besides a child's disembodied voice. Against your better judgement, you begin exploring this eerie place.


Positive Word-Of-Mouth got this small, independent production the attention of The Adventure Company and the game enjoyed a wider release, which in-turn led to three sequels (Dark Fall: Light's Out, Dark Fall: Lost Souls, and Dark Fall: Ghost Vigil) and a spin-off game series (The Lost Crown).

In Lights Out, you play as a cartographer who was sent out to an isolated lighthouse on an island off the coast of Britain to find out what happened to its keepers. As before, the people you are looking for have literally vanished, and the process of trying to find out transpired takes you on a (creepy) journey through time, through thousands of years of the island's history.

In Lost Souls, you play as an Inspector who, five years before, tried and failed to discover what happened to a missing girl from Dowerton named Amy. You have returned to Dowerton to try to... find her? Save her? Settle the questions in your mind? Your reasons for being there are obscure, as is the truth about what happened five years ago. You'll gradually learn the awful truth as you play your way through Dowerton Station; if you played The Journal, you'll recognize the place, but just barely. It's...really gone downhill.


In Ghost Vigil, you play as the new recruit for a team of young Oxford Paranormal Group ghost-hunters, who are investigating and conducting paranormal experiments at Harwood House, an abandoned country mansion. Steeped in layers of history - and tragedy - this 18th-century manor-cum-1980s children's home has long been the scene of spooky phenomena, which you'll do your best to capture with gadgets, CCTV cameras, and tape. But all too soon, it become apparent that it's you and your fellow ghost-hunters who have truly been captured...

These games contain examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: Ghost Vigil has one in which you can play on the slide, swing, etc.
  • Abusive Parents: Benjamin Parker's father sent him to the Cartography Academy, when he only wanted to be an artist.
    • Arther was forced into joining the British army by his father, which led to Arther losing his life in World War II.
    • Not explicit, but tattered promotional posters and an old TV ad for Shangri-La suggest that the children's home was marketed to lazy, self-centered parents who opted to dump their troubled offspring with strangers so they could enjoy a kid-free lifestyle.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Probably due to poor spellchecking, two characters in Lights Out named James Woolf and Gerard Magnus have their names written in different ways throughout the game, such as "James Wolfe" and "Magnus Griel". The Director's Cut fixes the latter by spelling out his full name as "Gerard Griel Magnus."
    • In an in-Verse example, the Shangri-La staff don't seem to know whether the youngest girl's name is Louise or Louisa, using either or both spellings in documents scattered around Harwood House. This ambivalence as to her name's form makes one of the game's puzzles harder, as deducing the girl's country-of-origin is part of the challenge.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The versions of Gloria Grable, Andrew Verney, and Matilda Fly in Lost Souls are a lot more angsty than the ones in The Journal. More of an adaptation-effect than a sequel, due to the first game's cosmic retcon ending.
  • Adult Fear: The Matron and senior nurse at Shangri-La both denied the existence of the supernatural, yet definitely were fearful for their charges' welfare, due to unexplained injuries and the trauma of Ollie's, Thomas's, and Lizzie's deaths.
  • AFGNCAAP: Some details of your character in The Journal are implied (rough age, last name, etc..), but most of his or her identity is left vague. The nameless Inspector of Lost Souls has a voice and history, but you have to work fairly hard to learn about the latter. Averted in Lights Out, where your character's identity is about the only thing you can be certain of at the start. Played straight in Ghost Vigil, in which your fellow ghost-hunters address you as "you" and refer to your character simply as "the newbie".
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Malakai in Lights Out is one screwed-up sentient space probe.
  • All Just a Dream: The entirety of Dark Fall: Lost Souls might just be a hallucination brought on by mixing vodka and medication.
  • Always Night: All but the second game happen entirely after dark. In Ghost Vigil, it's because the Harwood estate becomes frozen in time and isolated at 12:00:13, trapping you and the OPG team there.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Timothy's accent sounds Jewish, but it's never stated if he was a Jew back in 1941.
  • Anachronism Stew: Parker finds a computer disk in 1912, examines a necklace of computer parts in the 2090 B.C. encampment, wears a viewing headset from 2004 in all four eras, and uses a lantern from his own time to explore the 2090 research station. The first evidence of paranormal activity you're likely to discover in Ghost Vigil is that the radio in the attic still plays news broadcasts from 1984.
  • Ancient Evil: Contact between humans and the Dark Fall evidently goes back to prehistoric, or at the very least pre-Roman times.
  • Ancient Tomb: There's a cell under Harwood House where Lord Harwood locked the Jericho Five away to die, and an adjacent cavern full of skeletons that were apparently there long before Lord Harwood discovered it.
  • And I Must Scream: Getting your soul eaten by the Dark Fall isn't the end; it'll keep you around as a ghost to torment and/or use you as bait to draw in more victims.
  • Another Man's Terror: Lost Souls requires the Inspector to talk Gloria down from crashing her (figurative) car with him inside it, re-enacting her suicide with each failed attempt. Ghost Vigil has your character experience POV visions of two ghost's deaths, one by choking and one by grisly suicide.
  • Antagonist Title: "Dark Fall" is the name (title?) of the malign, soul-leeching supernatural entity/force that is responsible for much of the horror in these games.
  • Apocalyptic Log: George's notes in Journal, the head lighthouse-keeper's diary in Light's Out, and Thomas's various writings in Ghost Vigil.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Lord Harwood is revealed to have sacrificed his son, his wife, and the Jericho Five to the Dark Fall. And adding a bonus Kick the Dog to his crimes, he tortured his son's pet canary and an unknown number of other animals to death in his experiments.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The moral or social offenses for which the Jericho Five were selected to be sacrificed to the Dark Fall by Lord Harwood include arrogance, gambling, homosexuality, obesity, and being Welsh.
  • Ascended Extra: Nigel goes on to become the main character in The Lost Crown game series.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Lord Harwood's experiments resulted in ugly deaths for a variety of small and harmless animals. Averted by the Shangri-La girls, whose notes indicate they'd held out hope that they could get away with using a snail for a decoy instead of a rat, bird or snake, presumably because a snail's nervous system is too basic to experience much distress.
  • Beeping Computers: Polly White's computer in the first game, and the D.E.O.S. lab's machinery in the second. Ramped up for ominous effect in the facility's launch room.
  • Big Bad: The Dark Fall itself.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The giant grub-things in Lost Souls.
  • Big Secret: Despite there being a bank robber secretly hiding out at his hotel, George has much more serious things on his mind. The kids at Shangri-La Children's Home were far more aware of the terrors haunting Harwood House than the adult staff, and had even devised fairly sophisticated plans to foil it. Too bad the girls never risked sharing their plans with the boys or vice versa...
  • Blackmail: Matilda Fly found out who Gloria Grable really was, thanks to her collected newspaper clippings, but rather than turning her over to the police, she made a deal with Gloria: in exchange for keeping quiet, Matilda would get a piece of Gloria's spoils. At some point, Matilda recieved the money, but didn't get to make use of it before the Dark Fall captured everyone.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Lost Souls had a LOT more blood in it than the previous games. As in, "it was all over the walls, floor, and ceiling."
    • And you're lucky when it's just blood.
  • Book-Ends: Journal starts and ends with a closeup of your wristwatch as you're listening to an ansaphone message from your brother.
  • The Book Knew You Would Read That: In Light's Out, your character finds a notebook written by the head lighthouse-keeper. Its contents grow increasingly-disturbing with each entry, until the last of the writing directly addresses you by name.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Mr. Harding, the teacher at Shangri-La, develops a crush on Lady Isabella's ghost. When he comes to his senses, he blames his attraction for her - or at least the idea of her - on this trope.
  • Broken Record: Corbin Hart's MP3 player plays back a message from his kids in a horribly choppy manner. His wife lampshades this in a letter, and asks him to invest in a new one.
    • A literal example shows up in the first game with Edith Penfold's record player.
    • At the climax of Ghost Vigil, you finally encounter the other three ghost-hunters in person ... as semi-transparent, paralyzed presences who keep chanting the same phrases over and over.
  • Call-Back: In Ghost Vigil, playing the five petrospheres left to right in the Air Trial room makes the same sound sequence from Journal, though the actual order to solve the trial is different.
  • Campbell Country: The games are set at fictional locations in Cornwall and Oxfordshire.
  • Can't Move While Being Watched:
    • In The Journal, Polly and Nigel camped out in Edith Penfold's room to see if her record player would start on its own. When it didn't, Polly came to the conclusion that Edith wouldn't move while being watched.
    • The Inspector plays "Statues" with Amy during their first close encounter in Lost Souls.
  • The Chew Toy: Polly White. In each of the first two games she ends up investigating events way above her pay grade with the backing of Hadden Industries... only for the player to make the incidents she was investigating never happen by the end of the game. In the former, at least, it saved her from death and eternal torment in the process. In the latter... not so much.
  • Clear My Name: An implied objective in Light's Out, although the scenario doesn't make a big deal out of it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The only reason Andrew seems even more calm and level-headed than Timothy is that, unlike Timothy, he seems to have no idea what's going on, the lucky bastard.
  • Cobweb Jungle: Lost Souls has one made by cocooned larvae rather than spiders.
  • Condensation Clue: Made a bit trickier in The Journal because you have to restore the hotel's hot water before you can detect this one. In Lost Souls, Verney writes a clue in the grime on a full-length mirror.
  • Cosmic Retcon: All four games feature this, although it's only implied by Malakai's remarks at the end of Lights Out. In Lost Souls, evidence that the Inspector's actions saved Gloria and Matilda turns up within minutes of him intervening in their history.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In Journal, Nigel notes that the photos in George's darkroom were shot on 35mm film, a very recent product in 1947.
  • Creator Cameo: Spelling out Boakes's name on the ouija board in Lost Souls will get you an Easter Egg describing how "local ghosthunter" Jonathan Boakes knows of the Station Hotel, but is too scared to investigate it.
  • Creepy Basement: A large (and haunted, natch) one in Journal qualifies, but the one in Ghost Vigil readily tops it in the creepiness department. There's a boiler room and coal bin in the Light's Out lighthouse instead, but some eerie half-flooded tunnels in the 2090 version serve a similar purpose.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Some eerie tombstones line the roadside in Ghost Vigil.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: In The Journal, two paintings in Arther's studio are this. One of them, resembling a demon, even laughs at you accompanied by the sounds of fire crackling.
    • Some of the CCTV challenges in Ghost Vigil are spot-the-difference minigames, and include examples of this. The large portrait of Lord Harwood sometimes turns blank in the same game.
  • Creepy Child: Timothy Pike, though he's also really friendly
    • Amy Haven, from Dark Fall: Lost Souls, takes Creepy Child Up to Eleven.
    • Quite a few ghostly children haunt Harwood House and the grounds around it, but the Crying Boy is the most alarming. Also a little creep, no "y" attached.
  • Creepy Doll: The Inspector must find the parts of three damaged baby-dolls, reassemble them, and place them correctly to progress in Lost Souls. In Ghost Vigil, you must use a rag doll to craft a simulated "child sacrifice" to attract the Dark Fall so you can banish it.
  • Crusty Caretaker: The spirit of Shangri-La's old caretaker speaks to you a few times in Ghost Vigil, and is fairly friendly for a ghost.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: You and the other Oxford Paranormal Group members from Ghost Vigil. Also George and Arther in the first game, and Polly in the second, when she didn't even have the (thin) excuse of a college project to justify her ghost-hunting.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both the train station and the Crabtree family, in Journal. Also the Inspector and Gloria in Lost Souls, Harwood House and many of its past residents in Ghost Vigil, and Nigel Danvers, who is revealed to have lived there as a child.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Subverted when you go to the third floor for the first time in Journal. That doesn't stop it from easily being one of the scariest moments of the game.
  • Data Pad: What the D.E.O.S. personnel use in their underwater base, even for mundane things like picture frames and cookbooks.
    • The brother in Journal left some notes and e-mails on one in the station's waiting room.
    • You find tablets left around by your fellow ghost-hunters all over Harwood House in Ghost Vigil, although any clues they offer are in the form of photos, not text notes.
  • Dead All Along: Mr. Bones
  • Deadly Prank: One of Any Haven's notebooks imply she had seriously hurt or even killed people by setting a fire as a prank.
  • Dead Man Writing: The titular Journal.
  • Dead Person Conversation: A mechanic for all four games, sometimes with the aid of Ghost-Hunting Goggles to actually see and/or hear the person in question.
  • Death of a Child: Timothy Pike died pretty young. The crying baby from Lost Souls, who evidently died in the Blitz, was much, much younger. Ollie choked to death in the Shangri-La pantry, where he'd been stuffing himself with sweets (forbidden due to his diabetes). Edgar Harwood died very young, reportedly of scarlet fever.
  • Dialogue Tree: The second and third games have this mechanic, though only the Inspector's lines are voiced. The fourth game has in-Verse texting with the other three ghost-hunters, as well as dialogue buttons for talking to ghosts.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: One of the grosser locations in Lost Souls is the public restroom beside the platform. Largely averted for the same location in Journal and for the island's facilities in Lights Out, although they could both use some sweeping. The bathrooms in Ghost Vigil range from grimy and distasteful to half-collapsed, and a number of nasty-looking commode chairs are scattered around.
  • Distress Call: A bizarre voice-mail plea from your brother Pete is what summons you to the train station in Journal.
  • Distressed Damsel: Polly from Journal and Light's Out, and Jen from Ghost Vigil. The Inspector in Lost Souls thinks Amy Haven is this at first, but the truth is a whole lot worse...
  • Distressed Dude: Nigel and Pete in Journal. Bear and Steve in Ghost Vigil.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The second game initially hints that the cause of the disappearances and strange temporal phenomenon is another monster like in the first game... only for it to turn out that they are the result of a psychotic AI-controlled space probe — which was trapped in the distant past in a teleportation accident — trying to manipulate events so it can return home.
  • Drone of Dread: The machinery in the D.E.O.S. lab gives off constant low hum while you're there, blending with the occasional stings of futuristic music.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: In Lost Souls, it's implied that Matilda did this when she arrived at the hotel, judging by a huge bar receipt in there. It turns out that Matilda failed her play because she was drunk to begin with.
  • Dwindling Party: The OPG ghost-hunters start going missing, one by one, halfway through Ghost Vigil.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Always assuming getting out alive suffices for "happy"...
  • Easter Egg: Several in Lost Souls, and even more in Ghost Vigil.
  • Eldritch Abomination: If not for its tendency to taunt its victims, the Dark Fall might seem more like an unearthly force than an entity.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: EM interference, EVP recordings, flickering lights and haunted radios appear across multiple games of the series, and occasionally provide clues. The gadgets you carry in Ghost Vigil are directly modeled on ones used by Real Life paranormal investigators to detect ghosts via this trope.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Even the good ending of Ghost Vigil implies that Harwood House is still haunted and the Dark Fall still poses a threat there.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Tom from Journal has...abandonment issues
  • Evil Gloating: Nearly every time Malakai talks to you in Lights Out.
  • Evil Phone: Several communication devices, like the phone in the hotel and the "blowers" in the lighthouse, sound just plain weird in all four games. Sometimes a few of the characters talk to you at random, but others, only very unsettling noises...
    • Lampshaded by the goggle-viewable graffiti in the Journal's hotel lobby, which warns that the desk phone's rings are the Dark Fall trying to distract you.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Anyone taken by the Dark Fall not only has their soul fed upon, but their spirits are exploited as bait by the creature to lure others to a similar doom.
  • First-Person Ghost: All four games are non-shooter examples, and excusable given how it enhances the spookiness.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Benjamin Parker. Malakai too, which is what starts all the trouble.
  • Flashback Effects: In Lights Out, your first taste of time travel is a flashback in part of your journal that allows you to explore Robert Demarion's kitchen during the previous morning. What you see is an orange fish-eye filter around the edges, with some of the pages in the book protruding from one side. The entries after that go into more detail on what you found.
    • A few of the CCTV challenges' views in Ghost Vigil display "Time Events", in which the room under surveillance takes on its appearance from a previous era. The camera feed jitters and flickers when this happens ... although it does that a lot anyway, so it's not specific to the room "flashing back" to the past.
  • Framed Clue: One of the lyrics is hidden in a framed photo on a wall, and can only be retrieved if you play the right song on the phonograph loudly enough to make the picture fall down.
  • Friendly Ghost: Journal: Timothy Pike, in the beginning. Edith Penfold qualifies, too, as she leaves you a message hinting as to where her lyric is. Ghost Vigil: Thomas, Matron, and the Caretaker all give you advice that can help you out. Most of the lyrics are left behind for you by ghosts you've successfully communicated with and/or assisted. Thomas and Louise/a also give you keys you need ... although it's unclear whether it's actually the girl's ghost in the latter case or the Dark Fall trying to sucker you into its domain.
  • Fun with Acronyms: D.E.O.S., which stands for Deep Exploration Of Space.
  • Gainax Ending: Both of the possible endings in Lost Souls. The "happy ending" has the Inspector successfully revived but failed in his mission to return Amy; the other is absolutely horrifying. Both, however, are crazy and fit this trope to a T. If you complete a certain mini-game, only to make the wrong choice at the end of Ghost Vigil, you wind up in Saxton from The Lost Crown, of all places!
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Lost Souls has several of these. An infamous bug involves the combination lock to the train station's office. On some playthroughs, the correct code you get still won't work, requiring players to start a new game.
  • Ghost Amnesia: The majority of ghosts seem not to recall that they're dead or how long they've been there.
  • Ghost Train: Occasional train noises can be overheard in Journal, despite the station's line having been closed for decades. The Inspector has a far more frightening experience with this trope early in Lost Souls, when he hears a fast-approaching locomotive as he's trapped in the train tunnel.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Hadden eyepieces in the first two games, which allow the wearer to perceive ghostly phenomena. In Lights Out, they're also necessary to travel through time by touching certain objects/areas.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Malakai certainly qualifies.
  • Happy Ending: Journal and (if you make the right final choice) Ghost Vigil.
  • Haunted House: The Dowerton Station Hotel. Harwood House. Fetch Rock Lighthouse.
  • Haunted House Historian: Steve from Ghost Vigil first got interested in Harwood House after reading a book about it, which was authored by a pair of these.
  • Haunted Technology: The "blowers" in the Light's Out lighthouse, various TVs and radios in Lost Souls and Ghost Vigil, the GWR communications board in Lost Souls, the telephones in every game but the second, and the OPG's private chat network in Ghost Vigil.
  • Hearing Voices: At least half of the creepy stuff is what you hear, not what you see.
    • The whispered "Here..." that clues you in to where you should use the ghost-hunting devices is a bit spooky, particularly if you mistake it for some sort of Cthulhu Mythos reference ("Ia!").
    • The Matron of Shangri-La is particularly chatty, and can be heard calling to, scolding, or giving instructions to her charges all over the upper floor and office area.
  • Hell Hotel: Considering it was built directly over the railroad tracks, the Station Hotel would've been pretty noisy and smoky to stay in even before it became haunted and abandoned.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound effects in Lost Souls can get really disturbing.
  • Hidden Harasser: The Inspector keeps receiving taunting text messages from somebody calling themselves "Echo", who is apparently watching his every move. The OPG chat group receives some cryptic texts from an unknown party with a solid black chat icon.
  • Hint System: After the tutorial, Timothy Pike can give you hints for some of the puzzles. You do this by standing still in front of the puzzle for a while, then immediately walk to his hideout on the footbridge.
    • Walkie-talkie and text messages from your fellow ghost-hunters help you get started in Ghost Vigil.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Amy's disappearance happened on Bonfire Night, the date of the Inspector's harrowing experiences in Lost Souls. Ollie from Ghost Vigil died on Halloween, which was also his birthday.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Some of the ghosts say this if you answer the phone or blowers within the series.
  • I Have No Son!: The Crabtrees didn't like George that much when he started losing his mind, to the point that they barred all but the police from entering the hotel, and removed George's name from the family tree after he vanished.
  • Impairment Shot: One of the Inspector's time-jump visions is of Matilda Fly getting ready for her performance while three sheets to the wind. The screen's image wobbles and images double because she's too wasted to see.
  • Impeded Communication: At some point prior to your arrival in Journal, Polly had tried to warn her professor at Weymouth University, but the Dark Fall blocked her internet connection. Your brother's cell phone is also busted when you arrive.
    • Not long after you arrive in Ghost Vigil, the ghost-hunting team's wireless devices lose contact with the outside world, although they can and do talk or text to one another. At least until they start to vanish, at which point their links to the OPG chat group go dead.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Played with in Ghost Vigil, in which a (British) burial ground on the Harwood Estate is discovered to have been dug up and the bones dumped by some would-be renovators in the 1990s. The "played with" comes in because Harwood House was already so heavily haunted, having been so for centuries, that a few irate spirits roused by that particular disturbance of the dead wouldn't have made much difference.
  • Inn of No Return: Of the supernatural variety. Everyone at the Dowerton Hotel vanished without a trace on the same night, back in the 40s.
  • In-Series Nickname: Ben from Ghost Vigil uses the nickname "Bear". Jen remarks that it avoids confusion to call him that, as "Jen" and "Ben" sound too much alike over the walkie-talkies.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence:
    • Common in Lost Souls, where building debris and even plant life restricts where the Inspector can walk, making traveling around the station and hotel take longer than it did in The Journal.
    • Ghost Vigil levels out with this trope, since you're able to climb over some of the debris, though not in every area.
  • Interface Screw: The drunk flashback to Matilda Fly's worst night in Lost Souls.
    • Happens repeatedly in Ghost Vigil, when the ghost you're encountering gets really upset. Black wavering vapor-trails surround you in the room of confiscated toys, flying water drops and a "cracked mirror" view in the laundry, frost freezes the borders of your field of view in the cold pantry, and more dancing black vapors and red auras in the upstairs classroom.
  • Invisible Writing: In The Journal, the picture of a pigeon can be heated over the gas stove upstairs, causing the names of four lyrics to appear.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • The first verse of Hughes Mearns' Antagonish is used as a plot point for Lights Out, spoken by James Woolf. Becomes especially chilling when one of the D.E.O.S. crew logs mentions Magnus repeating those same words.
    • In the bad ending of Lost Souls, Amy sings "Ring around the Roses" after the Inspector decides to stay, and ends the verse with, "A-tissue, a-tissue, the Dark Fall is NOW."
  • I See Dead People: Or rather, the ghost-hunting equipment lets you see the dead people and/or their possessions.
  • It's Up to You: In every game, you're pretty much working solo to resolve the situations you find yourself in, although a ghost will occasionally offer a bit of advice or an item in Journal and Ghost Vigil. In Lost Souls, Echo provides a hint between the taunts once in a while, although even then, it's still you, as Echo is the Inspector's conscience.
  • It Won't Turn Off: The radio in Harwood House's kitchen, if switched off, will turn itself on every time you move to another part of the room.
  • Jump Scare: Polly's Hypnosis Regression tape in the second game has a loud, screeching noise at the very end.
  • Jerkass: Tom and Gloria from Journal. The EVP messages of the Crying Boy in Ghost Vigil suggest he's a bullying little creep.
  • Justified Tutorial: Journal: The first few minutes of gameplay with Timmy basically teaches novice adventure gamers how to use the Myst-like interface.
  • Kill the Lights: One of several possible eerie events in the Journal's hotel hallways.
  • Left the Background Music On: In The Journal and Ghost Vigil, the player can tune radios to different stations that continue to play in the background. Ghost Vigil sometimes also requires the player to use certain frequencies as puzzle solutions.
  • Lighthouse Point: Fetch Rock
  • Love Makes You Evil: Betty
  • Macabre Moth Motif: The room in Lost Souls that's filled to the brim with pictures of butterflies, pupae containing life leeches, and even on the wallpaper.
  • Madness Mantra: "All comes to he who waits".
  • Man on Fire: The Crying Boy in Ghost Vigil, who was accidentally set alight while playing near a lit fireplace. His ghost and his portrait both emit ghostly flames, which are terrifying at close quarters.
  • Mega-Corp: Hadden Industries, supplying every gadget in the first two games, and apparently were so successful that, in the future, they funded the D.E.O.S. lab and its research into dark matter and artificial intelligence.
  • Mind Screw
  • Misfortune Cookie
    • A variant in the Journal with a broken slot machine in one of the storerooms. You can pull it as much as you want, and certain combinations dispense cards displaying random advice from various historical figures.
    • Played straight in the 2090 time zone. The base's crew room has a pile of fortune cookies among other party decorations, and each fortune you pick is randomized. Some of them are Foreshadowing, while others are just generic.
  • Missing Mom: Timothy and (possibly) Arther. The former is mentioned in a newspaper in the first game, at least.
  • Missing Secret: The original version of Lights Out renders the D.E.O.S. launch room as this, leaving a locked room that can be opened...with nothing of value inside. The Director's Cut averts this, adding ominous music, one of Malakai's clues, and a recording of his launch.
    • Near the end of Ghost Vigil, there's a tunnel that's blocked off almost completely by rubble. An in-game map suggests there's a chamber behind the blockage, but you never get to see it. There's a second, newer playground on the OPG's sketch map of the Harwood House grounds, but you can't get behind the house to see it.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: George Crabtree was blamed for the 1947 disappearances. Also applies to your character in Lights Out, as indicated by the 21st-century museum exhibits.
  • Multiple Endings: Two (good and bad) for Lost Souls. Three (good, bad, and Gainax) for Ghost Vigil.
  • Mundane Utility: A hyper-futuristic tool that you can pick up in the 2090 AD time zone apparently is designed to be nothing more than a "laser screwdriver". Especially bizarre, given that there are actual screwdrivers laying about that you can't pick up.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The anomaly that Malakai found while in deep space, which damaged his Morality Chip, causing him to attempt using his dark matter software to return home without his creator's control.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Journal: Polly and Nigel. George and Arthur before them, too. Also Tom's friend, Will
    • You, in one ending of Lost Souls. Great job unleashing that supernatural horror, inspector.
    • Steve, who arranged for you and the others to ghost-hunt in Harwood House.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Journal: The final cinematic vaguely suggests that defeating the Dark Fall undid everything it ever did over the centuries. Some of the ghosts even spell it out:
    Timothy Pike: Things don't have to turn out as they did; You'll find out what I mean soon. Bye.
    Matilda Fly: I can feel the change!
    • Lights Out confirms this, as Timothy Pike evidently grew up to be an author.
    • Ironically, because the Retcon erases the Dowerton station's scary reputation as a place where people vanish, the version seen in Dark Fall: Lost Souls is a lot more run-down and ruined, as vandals and junkies didn't avoid the place.
    • In Ghost Vigil, the good ending shows that, at the very least, events which led the ghost-hunting party to Harwood House are being re-written. Whether anything else ugly that the Dark Fall'd caused to happen, in Shangri-La or previous eras, was undone is never specified.
  • No-Paper Future: Light's Out: Subverted, everybody in the D.E.O.S. lab uses Data Pads, but Corbin Hart, the project manager, resorts to using paper and pen to keep his thoughts secret.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The third floor of the hotel in Journal. You will need a change of pants after the first visit.
  • NPC Roadblock: In the Director's Cut of Lights Out, Robert Shaw prevents you from going to the lighthouse's second floor until you answer his questions properly.
    • In Ghost Vigil, the Crying Boy wants his game pieces back, and won't let you past without meeting this need. Considering he's on fire, he's a pretty intimidating roadblock.
  • Occult Detective: Nigel and Polly in Journal, and Polly again in Light's Out. Steve, Bear, Jen and yourself in Ghost Vigil. Also George Crabtree and Thomas Harding, although their amateur inquiries only got both of them killed and trapped haunting their former homes.
  • Ominous Knocking: How the Dark Fall lured the guests and your brother to their death in the first game. It'll sometimes even knock when you're in the middle of reading a note or looking around.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Journal: The music box in Edith's bedroom. The tune it plays also makes a brief reappearance in Lights Out after you solve a certain puzzle.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: In Lights Out, Polly White hides behind a locked door and asks you a couple of questions that you must answer in this manner, to gain her trust. When you do this, she slips a map of Fetch Rock under the door, showing where her Ghost-Hunting headset is. Weirdly, the Director's Cut omits this puzzle, making the map easy to miss unless you simply look down when in front of the door.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: To get the key to George Crabtree's study in game one.
  • Parlor Games: Amy plays some very creepy rounds of these with the Inspector in Lost Souls.
  • Pay Phone:
    • In The Journal, You can use a candlestick-type phone in the train station's lobby to contact Nigel Danvers, who gives you instructions on how to get into his hotel room.
    • Lost Souls reworks it to a rotary phone design in the same area, and the Inspector has to call the hotel in order to enter it.
  • Porn Stash: Amusingly, one of The Journal's clues is hidden in a drawer full of 1940s-era cheesecake photos.
  • Projected Man: The Hard Light variant in Light's Out, with Drake and Magnus having been transformed into this by Malakai's matter-altering abilities. You can actually see Magnus' body up close in the D.E.O.S.' lab's medical bay, if you're early enough.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Lights Out starts with Benjamin Parker having a recurring dream of Fetch Rock and Malakai flying towards it. When Parker gets to the island, Drake's journal mentions a similar dream. Later on, Polly White and Corbin Hart's kids have the same dreams as well.
    • Nigel Danvers apparently had vivid dreams about Saxton when he was a small boy at Shangri-La children's home, decades before he would end up there as the protagonist of The Lost Crown.
  • Red Herring: Fetch Rock is loaded with areas you can zoom in on, but serve no purpose.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Subverted in Lost Souls' opening scene.
  • Recursive Canon: One of the personnel cabins in the D.E.O.S. lab has a poster that says, "The Dowerton Experiment; New Adventure Game". This is a reference to the first game.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: Mr. Bones' diet, apparently.
  • Repetitive Audio Glitch: Heard whenever Malakai speaks to you.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Journal: There's a lot of graffiti on the walls around Dowerton Station, some of it put there by the Dark Fall itself.
    • Both Harwood House and the much-vandalized version of Dowerton re-visited in Lost Souls have been tagged six ways from Sunday in places. More cheerfully, the children of Shangri-La were allowed to decorate the walls of their play areas with drawing of flowers and the like.
  • Running Gag: Edith and Betty Penfold's notes complaining about Matilda Fly in the first game, often calling her a "cow".
  • Schoolmarm: The teacher at Shangri-La is a rare male example. With just over a dozen pupils in residence, Matron apparently saw no need to employ more than one teacher.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dark Fall itself, and the goal in Journal and Ghost Vigil is to seal it again.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Lost Souls features several lost souls who need to have some part of their history examined and fixed before they can leave Dowerton in peace. This includes you.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In Andrew Verney's memory of the hotel in Lost Souls, the player can hear a couple perpetually giggling to each other inside room 2F, complete with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the doorknob.
  • Shout-Out: Loads of references to Boakes' sources of inspiration, particularly "The Ballad of Flannan Isle" for Lights Out.
    • The 3 tracks on Ivan Krozt's MP3 player are all named after certain AI's.
    • Polly and Nigel have an "I want to believe" poster.
    • Gerard Magnus' name is misspelled at one point as "Magnus Griel". Magnus Greel was a villain from classic Doctor Who, who'd likewise succumbed to an experimental device's botched time travel.
    • Dowerton Station's layout is a near-perfect replica of the abandoned train station from Assignment 2 of Sapphire and Steel, right down to the corrugated metal nailed up over the platform-side windows. Some of the death-flashbacks in Lost Souls are similar to the ones from that story. In Lights Out, one of the undersea lab's residents has a vintage scifi magazine with Sapphire and Steel on the cover.
    • The dialogue of the keepers in Lights Out often scans like an homage to Vince and Ben from "Horror of Fang Rock". The hole in the door of the game's crew room references Leela knocking a similar hole through Reuben's door with a sledgehammer. One of the island's rocks depicted on a map in 2004 is even called Fang Rock.
  • Single Malt Vision: The Inspector sees double when he experiences Matilda's memory of waking up hung over.
  • Sinister Whistling: In the first game, your brother's diary mentions a ghost whistling on the train station platform. You can also hear this ghost from one of the rooms of the hotel.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Matilda Fly is an in-universe example, but only in the first game.
  • Spooky Painting: Arther's studio in the first game has many of these.
  • Sequel Escalation: Room 2-A in the first game has a pair of scissors stuck in one wall. When you reach that same room in Lost Souls, there's DOZENS of those things on that wall. It also includes a ghost that the Inspector can talk to. Which is actually the Dark Fall looking to eat him.
  • Subtitles Are Superfluous: Played straight with Lights Out, which can make Malakai's dialogue very difficult to understand.
  • Trespassing Hero: If you read Matilda's letter in the first game, she comments on this.
    Matilda: You're very nosy, aren't you? Poking around in other peoples' things?
  • Talking to Themself: Echo from Lost Souls
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Mentioned in George's journal, and by Polly White in the first game.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In Lost Souls, Amy sometimes hums a higher-pitched version of The Journal's theme, also heard from a music box later on.
    • The same tune is used in a musical puzzle in Ghost Vigil.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: "I see you - PARKER!"
  • The Three Trials:
    • The first game's last 3 puzzles, even called trials in the backstory, which must be solved before you can finally confront the Dark Fall. The first simply relies on a sequence of colors, the second uses the 4 elements, and the last one is a short Simon Says Minigame.
    • Continued in Lost Souls, with three ghosts to assist, and three dolls to assemble and place in the right order near the endgame.
    • Three trials yet again in Ghost Vigil, although one isn't necessarily in the chamber where the in-game map leads you to expect it'll be.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The OPG team of Steve, Ben ("Bear"), and Jen.
  • Ultimate Evil: The Dark Fall itself
  • Updated Re-release: The Director's Cut of Lights Out, along with two later re-releases of The Journal.
  • Undead Child: Amy Haven in Lost Souls; Louise/Louisa and the Crying Boy in Ghost Vigil. Various other child-spirits manifest as voices, silhouettes or CCTV images at the Harwood estate, but aren't met face to face.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: The back-story to Journal.
    • In-universe examples are featured in museum exhibits from Light's Out. The culprit in the lighthouse disappearances is widely believed to have been your character, but the suspect vanished so the complete truth never came out.
  • Urban Legends
  • Vader Breath
    • George Crabtree's study has a constant, muffled breathing noise in the background.
    • Malakai's presence in Lights Out is heard by a slow breathing noise, also.
    • In Lost Souls, The Inspector is heavily implied to have emphysema, as he often gets exhausted by simply climbing halfway up a ladder or stairway. The opening even starts with him struggling for air off-screen.
  • The Voiceless: Neither the architect's sibling from The Journal nor the cartographer from Lights Out ever speaks aloud, even when it would be sensible and beneficial to do so. The Inspector does talk, but for some reason his voice actor is listed as a "?" in the credits. Your newbie ghost-hunter in Ghost Vigil doesn't speak, a fact that's lampshaded by Steve saying he appreciates you not being overly chatty.
    • Lampshaded in The Journal if you call a pizza place. A woman on the other end calls you a weirdo and hangs up because you don't say anything to her.
  • Voice of the Legion: Mr. Bones speaks in a distorted Malakai-esque voice, for no explained reason.

Alternative Title(s): Dark Fall 2 Lights Out


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