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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 two sequels (Dark Fall: Light's Out and Dark Fall: Lost Souls) and a spin-off game (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.


These games contain examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Benjamin Parker's father sent him to the Cartography Academy, when he only wanted to be an artist.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Afterlife Express
  • 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.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Timmy'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.
  • Antagonist Title
  • Ascended Extra: Nigel goes on to become the main character in The Lost Crown
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Campbell Country
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cosmic Retcon: All three 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.
  • 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
  • Creepy Child: Timothy Pike, though he's also really friendly
    • Amy Haven, from Dark Fall: Lost Souls, takes Creepy Child Up to Eleven. Verity from Lost Crown also qualifies, but is a much milder example.
  • Creepy Doll: The Inspector must find the parts of three damaged baby-dolls, reassemble them, and place them correctly to progress in Lost Souls.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both the train station and the Crabtree family
  • Darkness = Death: Subverted when you go to the third floor for the first time. 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.
  • Dead All Along: Mr. Bones
  • Dead Man Writing: The Titular Journal
  • Dead Person Conversation: A mechanic for all 3 games, usually through 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.
  • Dialogue Tree: The second and third games have this mechanic, though only the Inspector's lines are voiced.
  • 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.
  • Distressed Damsel: Polly
  • Distressed Dude: Nigel and The Player Character's brother.
  • 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.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Easter Egg: Several in Lost Souls.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Tom has...abandonment issues
  • Evil Phone: Several communication devices, like the phone in the hotel and the "blowers" in the lighthouse sound just plain weird in all 3 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 hotel lobby, which warns that the desk phone's rings are the Dark Fall trying to distract you.
  • Fate Worse than Death
  • First-Person Ghost: All three 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.
  • Foreshadowing: 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.
  • 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: Timothy Pike, in the beginning. Edith Penfold qualifies, too, as she leaves you a message hinting as to where her lyric is.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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: The First Game
  • Haunted House: The Dowerton Station Hotel.
  • 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 Hadden devices is a bit spooky, particularly if you mistake it for some sort of Cthulhu Mythos reference ("Ia!").
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sound effects in Lost Souls can get really disturbing.
  • 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.
  • Inn of No Return (of the supernatural variety)
  • Interface Screw: The drunk flashback to Matilda Fly's worst night in Lost Souls.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Jerkass: Tom and Gloria
  • Justified Tutorial: The first few minutes of gameplay with Timmy basically teaches novice adventure gamers how to use the Myst-like interface.
  • 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".
  • Mega-Corp: Hadden Industries, supplying every gadget in the 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!:
    • Polly and Nigel
    • George and Arthur before them, too.
    • Tom's friend, Will
    • You, in one ending of Lost Souls. Great job unleashing that supernatural horror, inspector.
  • No Ontological Inertia: 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.
  • No-Paper Future: 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. 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.
  • Occult Detective: Polly and Nigel. The player character is forced to act as one during the game.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: 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.
  • Parlor Games: Amy plays some very creepy rounds of these with the Inspector in Lost Souls.
  • 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, 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.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can
  • 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: There's a lot of graffiti on the walls around Dowerton Station, some of it put there by the Dark Fall itself.
  • Running Gag: Edith and Betty Penfold's notes complaining about Matilda Fly in the first game, often calling her a "cow".
  • 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.
  • 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 Subway
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Matilda Fly is an in-universe example, but only in the first game.
  • Spooky Painting
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Ultimate Evil: The Dark Fall itself
  • Updated Re-release: The Director's Cut of Lights Out, along with two later rereleases of The Journal.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: The back-story to the game.
    • 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

Alternative Title(s): Dark Fall 2 Lights Out


Example of: