Thus far, the series consists of the following games:
The first game, Detective Grimoire, has Grimoire visit the Coils & Co. Fairground to find out who murdered Hugh Everton, an elderly employee at the amusement park.
A sequel, Detective Grimoire: Secret of the Swamp,note sees Grimoire assigned to the murder of Richard Remington, the owner of a tourist attraction in a remote swamp. The murder was believed to have been committed by Boggy, a legendary beast who supposedly lives in the swamp...
A third game, Tangle Tower, has Grimoire and new partner Sally visit the titular tower to solve the murder of Freya Fellow, who appears to have been stabbed by a painting of a knife.
Provides examples of:
- Ambiguous Time Period: The technology in the games is all over the place, with Secret of the Swamp taking place in a run down tourist attraction, with what would be considered largely outdated technology in the 2010s, although Van De Peer is shown using a smartphone and talking about movie CGI. Tangle Tower uses cassette tapes as a plot point, although it's mentioned that they're outdated in the game itself for a few years, the wording is ambiguous enough to suggest they were still in use at least a few years ago.
- Art Shift: The first game is an Animesque Visual Novel in the style of Ace Attorney, complete with characters communicating entirely in grunts and electronic buzzing. The backgrounds are bleak and realistic, in keeping with the Crappy Carnival aesthetic. Secret of the Swamp, on the other hand, has the much more quirky and colourful approach of European Western Animation (á la Cartoon Saloon), with stylised (and animated) character models, full voice acting, and lush hand-drawn backgrounds. Tangle Tower pushes this aesthetic even further, utilizing a more pastel palette and Squiggle Vision.
- Cast of Snowflakes: Particularly in later games, where the more cartoonish style allows for increasingly diverse silhouettes among the characters.
- Declarative Finger: A stock pose for several characters, particularly Grimoire and Sally.
- Everyone Is a Suspect: Every character you can interview is added to your suspect list. Several of them will even comment on it.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Each game takes place over the span of a few hours to a day, at most.
- Fair-Play Whodunnit: Every mystery can be readily solved by the player before it can be solved by Grimoire.
- Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Although not every hesitation indicates a lie, almost all characters will pause before lying.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Grimoire can carry a frankly astonishing amount of clues. Lampshaded in the second game by both Sally and Grimoire.
- Never the Obvious Suspect: Each game will hand you a prime suspect as a Red Herring. These suspects grow increasingly outlandish with each game, making it even more clear that they aren't the real culprits.
- Leitmotif: Originally, only the mysterious little girl had a notable leitmotif (an eerie music box-inspired theme), but as of Tangle Tower, every character has a unique song associated with them.
- Red Herring: In addition to having an innocent obvious suspect in every case, the games frequently include other subplots and distractions to sift through — for example, Tangle Tower features an extended subplot involving rising tensions between Fifi, Fitz, Poppy, and Penny, but it has nothing to do with the murder case.
- The Summation: Each game ends with Grimoire returning to a partner character (initially Officer James, then later Sally) to deliver the facts about the case. Later summations also include the killer, allowing them to confirm Grimoire's assessments and fill in details he couldn't have gathered.
- Myth Arc: Beginning with Secret of the Swamp, the franchise has been building a larger plot surrounding the Mystids and the various people who are concerned with them.
- Point-and-Click Map: Originally an in-universe item given to you by the mysterious little girl; in Tangle Tower it's simply an unacknowledged UI element.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never clear where any of the games' settings are located. The first game, which is more grounded, seems to take place in Britain, but later games have most characters speak in American accents and take place in more isolated and fantastical locations.
- White and Gray Morality: While there are some characters who are good and decent for the most part, such as Grimoire, most of the suspects across the series are more complex, and even the killers have some sympathetic traits. Perhaps the evilest character seen so far is the culprit of the first game, but at least one of his motives is sympathetic: he loves his niece and wants her to get a promotion.
- Asshole Victim: It's revealed quickly that Hugh was a lazy, hardheaded old man who was bad at his job.
- Crappy Carnival: Justified. Jerry informs the player the fairground looks this way on purpose since kids are into the abandoned amusement park aesthetic.
- Dance Party Ending: The end credits feature all the characters dancing in chibi form.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The art style is darker and grittier than both of the sequels, with the characters being designed more realistically and the fair ground being a muted color (both Secret of the Swamp and Tangle Tower utilize more vibrant coloring), the characters use Voice Grunting instead of full voice acting, the setting is more common than the swamp attraction and the titular Tangle Tower, and there's no trace of the Mystid Myth Arc. The UI also checks off the suspects' innocence immediately (with the exception of the murderer), while Secret of the Swamp lets the player mark off who their most likely suspect is by themselves, while Tangle Tower completely drops the mechanic (but still updating the profiles of the suspects).
- Frame-Up: The murderer wraps a ripped piece of Charles' clown costume around the murder weapon to frame him.
- Hall of Mirrors: The crime scene.
- Mirror Scare: Defied. The killer broke the glass to prevent the victim from seeing him as he inspected the broken mirror.
- Monster Clown: Charles Ringer, the clown, is the main suspect of the murder. Subverted, as he's innocent.
- Red Herring: Charles is established as the primary suspect, and he points the finger at Ricky. Neither are particularly well-liked by any other employees, and they had an argument near the crime scene the previous day... none of which are relevant to the murder at all.
- Running Gag: Everyone likes to ask Grimoire why he doesn't have a detective hat.
- Who Murdered the Asshole: See Asshole Victim above.
- Alliterative Name: Bobby Burle, Boggy's Bog, Edward "Echo" Everstone, Richard Remington, Sally Spears, Vincent Van De Peer.
- Anti-Villain: It turns out that Echo never intended to kill Remington in the first place, merely wanting to scare him off. He killed Remington in self-defense after Remington attempted to shoot "Boggy."
- Asshole Victim: Opinions of Remington are more mixed than opinions of the previous game's victim, but several regard him as this. Additionally, Richard Remington was actually part of a secret hunting society that was trying to kill Boggy. The entire tourist attraction was built by Remington to get around the fact that the swamp was legally protected from hunting.
- Awesome McCoolname: Edward Everstone. At least Grimoire likes it.
- Continuity Nod: Several references to the first game are made.
- Cryptid Episode: The prime murder suspect is "Boggy," a creature rumored to live in the swamp. The actual culprit was just someone in a costume, but Boggy does exist.
- Denser and Wackier: The first game was a fairly realistic murder mystery with some comedic moments. In here, not only is there a more comedic edge, but the prime murder suspect is a cryptid/cartoon mascot (though in fairness, Grimoire is clearly not buying it).
- Fish People: Boggy is an amphibious fish-person cryptid living in the swamp.
- Foreshadowing: It's noted several times that it doesn't make sense from a business standpoint for there to be a tourist attraction in the middle of a swamp, even from some of the workers there. It eventually turns out the whole tourist attraction was a front by Remington to hunt down "Boggy".
- Lighter and Softer: As stated before, there's a bit more comedy thrown in, including the idea that a cartoonish swamp creature may have done a man in. Also, the culprit in this game only intended to scare Remington into shutting down the swamp and only attacked after he was shot at. Nothing at all like the culprit in the first game who planned to kill from the get go.
- You could argue that this is a downplayed trope. For starters, the line between right and wrong is blurred even further than the first game.
- Loophole Abuse: A long time ago, hunters would savagely search the swamp to hunt the creature that "Boggy" was based off of. Eventually, all hunters and hunting activities were banned from the swamp. However one of the hunters found out that you could purchase the swamp as your private property, which gave you the right to take down any "trespassers". He then decided that a tourist attraction would be a perfect front.
- Real After All: At the end of the game, Boggy emerges from the swamp to help catch the real culprit post-summation.
- Running Gag: In the previous game, everyone wanted to know why Grimoire didn't have a detective hat. In this game, he does have a hat... and immediately loses it to a breeze, causing characters to remark on his lost hat for the rest of the game.
- As in the previous game, Grimoire can tease James about his moustache.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Echo's goal was to frighten Remington into closing his tourist attraction and letting Boggy to live in the swamp in peace. He thought having the star of the attraction threaten its owner would be the most effective way of driving Remington off for good. He didn't anticipate that Remington would immediately attempt to shoot "Boggy."
- Sequel Hook: This one ends with 'To Be Continued', tying in with the victim's background story.
- Shout-Out: Detective Grimoire makes a snarky remark about the guy with the top hat.
- Stylistic Suck: The notebook puzzles feature crude stick figure doodles of the situation Grimoire is trying to solve.
- Swamps Are Evil: Grimoire often goes on about how disgusting and creepy the swamp in while other suspects actually find it rather beautiful. But he does have a point considering the Swamp is the scene of a murder.
- Technicolor Toxin: The poison used to make Remington ill was a green powder.
- This Bear Was Framed: The murderer attempted to make Remington's murder look like a cryptid attack.
- Adventure Duo: Typically with Grimoire as the oddball and Sally as the serious one, though they switch roles from time to time. See Snark-to-Snark Combat below.
- Alertness Blink: Characters will occasionally react in this way, usually with a combination of a slap sound effect and a breaking-glass sound effect.
- Alliterative Name: The game centers on two rival families, the Fellows and the Pointers, all of whom have first names beginning with F and P respectively. The titular tower also applies.
- Ascended Extra: Sally has become Grimoire's partner/sidekick.
- Betty and Veronica: Implied with Fitz, Penny and Poppy. Penny is his glamorous, flighty Femme Fatale fiancée who has painfully little in common with him, while Poppy is her goth cousin who takes an interest in gardening and asks Fitz to teach her, inciting Penny's jealousy and hatred.
- Bittersweet Ending: Grimoire and Sally solve the murder, and Penny doesn't get the golden beetle, but Penny gets away and possibly came close to killing Grimoire and Sally before Fitz, Polly, and Fifi rescued them.
- Blatant Lies: When Grimoire asks Fitz about his relationship with Penny, he hesitantly insists that it's good, even though tons of evidence and dialogue indicate otherwise.
- Brutal Honesty: Several members of the cast will be remarkably blunt with their opinions of the other characters.
- When asked whether she considers Felix a good dad, Fifi answers with a blunt no. Additionally, when she explains that her father is emotionally distant and a bit detached from reality, Grimoire responds, "Just like you, then," to Sally's dismay and Fifi's unconcerned agreement.
- When asked about Flora, Penny remarks that she could have done much better than settling for Felix and responds to Grimoire's "ouch" with an amused, "I said it."
- …But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted; Penelope takes care to have Penny and Hawkshaw insult each other at every available moment and vice versa. Judging by how she discusses her Penny persona in the finale, it seems like it isn't even much of an exaggeration on her true feelings.
- The Cavalry: In the game's finale, Grimoire and Sally are knocked unconscious by the killer, and Fitz, Fifi, and Poppy rescue them in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
- Caged Bird Metaphor: Two, in fact. Penny is a walking Caged Bird Metaphor — she dresses like a bird and spends all her time in an aviary that looks like a giant birdcage, to the point of being explicitly noted by Grimoire as such. But in addition, if you present the Birds & Cage clue to other characters, you'll realize the three birds are a metaphor for Freya, Fifi, and Poppy and their relationship to Tangle Tower. They're even color-coded.
- Continuity Nod: Tangle Tower builds extensively on characters and lore introduced in Secret of the Swamp. That said, it seldom makes explicit reference to the previous case — notably, you can look at Richard Remington's name on the family tree in the Grand Hall, but no reference is made to his murder in the previous case.
- Grimoire will also react to the name Emily Everstone with suspicious silence, but again, no explicit reference is made to Edward "Echo" Everstone from Secret of the Swamp.
- Cryptid Episode: See Continuity Nod. Though it's only hinted at as a Sequel Hook, it seems the franchise's Myth Arc will center on the Mystids introduced in the games and the people who both protect and pursue them.
- Developer's Foresight: In previous games, most evidence would produce generic non-responses from characters for whom that evidence was not relevant. This time, characters have bespoke responses to every clue in the game, and will even re-direct you to other suspects they think might know more about the object - including people who will be wrong, or who will re-direct you to someone else.
- Dramatic Wind: Flora's hair sometimes gets caught in an ominous breeze, usually when an especially good question has been asked.
- Droste Image: Examining the drawing of Grimoire on Fifi's relationship map will prompt Grimoire to ask why the drawing of him looks so angry. When Sally remarks that it's just the face he makes when he's thinking, he responds with the exact face in question, perfectly matching the drawing on the board.
- Dysfunctional Family: To the extent that some members would insist that they're two separate dysfunctional families, despite being linked by marriage. Invoked by Professor Pointer about the Fellow family, which he describes as always being a bit dysfunctional.
- Embarrassing Old Photo: One of the subplots involves proving that Poppy used to dress differently using a photo that she denies is of her.
- Everybody Hates Mathematics: Every time Grimoire and Sally encounter math in the environment (e.g., on some papers in Fifi's room), they remark on how they can't parse it. Grimoire in particular seems to really hate math.Sally: Homemade posters. This one's about the Pythagoras theorem.
Grimoire: I've not heard of that band. Are they any good?
- Expressive Hair: Felix and Poppy's hair droops whenever their mood lowers.
- A Family Affair: Penny is incredibly jealous and paranoid over her fiancé Fitz's friendship with her cousin Poppy. The true nature of Fitz and Poppy's relationship remains ambiguous, but it's eventually revealed that, whatever Poppy's feelings are, Fitz does love Penny and may not even be aware of her jealousy. Given The Reveal, it's also implied that much of Penny's animosity towards Poppy is fake, and she may not even care for Fitz as much she originally seemed to.
- Fantastic Flora: Fitz grows unusual plants in the greenhouse, including exotic and even one-of-a-kind flowers. He attributes it to the unique properties of the lakewater around the manor. A major subplot involves a unique flower he bred to look exactly like Penny.
- Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables: Fitz grows unusual plants in the greenhouse, including inedible gem-like fruit. He attributes it to the unique properties of the lakewater around the manor.
- Figure It Out Yourself: Detective Hawkshaw regularly refuses to give Grimoire any information, even snapping, "I do not wish to do your job for you, detective." Which makes sense, considering she is the killer.
- Flower Motifs: Unsurprisingly, several of the plants around Tangle Tower serve as metaphors for Fitz and his relationships.
- The small, plain plant in Fitz's room is identified as "healthy, but sad," stifled in its indoor environment.
- The red rosebush in the rooftop garden between Fitz and Poppy's room is "well-cared for," and the single red rose is "very... traditional," making it clear that their romance is both in full bloom and perfectly ordinary.
- The unique, Penny-inspired flower Fitz gave to Penny looks "out of place" in her room. When asked about it, Penny makes it clear that she neglects and even dislikes it, while a clearly pained Fitz explains that he sneaks into Penny's room to care for it, "just... trying to keep it alive."
- Foreshadowing: A ton. Character dialogue will hint at the true nature of many clues, and of the case itself, long before the player might have put two and two together. Though some of it is obvious (for example, the poems Poppy recites when shown character profiles hint at some of the hidden rooms in the house), the extent of the more subtle foreshadowing is genuinely impressive, and extremely rewarding to catch on a second playthrough. For example, could it only be a coincidence that the culprit is the only character portrait that looks straight at the player, rather than vaguely to the right?
- Freudian Trio: Fifi and Poppy both suggest that they formed one of these with Freya before her death.
- Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Poppy will recite brief iambic rhyming poetry about every character except herself when shown a suspect profile.
- Grows on Trees: More than one character suggests that Fitz could sell the gemstone fruits for money.
- Headphones Equal Isolation: Fitz wears large earmuffs (which the other characters frequently confuse for headphones) while gardening to discourage people from talking to him.
- Hidden Depths: Most of the characters, but especially the killer.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: When you ask Felix about his red paint pot, he immediately starts insisting there's nothing suspicious about it... causing Sally to note that they never said it was suspicious.
- It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Referenced directly by Grimoire. Sally refuses to participate.Grimoire: It's quiet...
Grimoire: ...You're supposed to say, "Too quiet."
Sally: It's not. It's an appropriate amount of quiet.
- Last of His Kind: The inkdip bird is noted to be the last of its species. It may still be.
- Lighter and Softer: Literally, in the case of the art: there are far more pastels and rounded shapes, and the Squiggle Vision eliminates any hard edges on the characters. Notably, when the killer is revealed, they have a new design with no pastels, harder lines, and cel-shaded shadows.
- Tone-wise, the game stays in the same semi-silly space as Secret of the Swamp. The trailers play up Grimoire's idea that a painting of a knife may be the murder weapon, as well as his banter with Sally.
- Locked Room Mystery: A key complication of the case is that Freya and Flora were locked in the room when Freya died, and the door remained locked until Fitz kicked it down.
- Opposites Attract: Fifi and Poppy are polar opposites from rival families, and they are best friends nonetheless. Invoked outright by Felix when discussing them.
- Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: So mysterious that they're literally called Mystids.
- Parental Abandonment: Penny's parents, Fitz's parents, and Poppy's mother are all conspicuously missing. Though their exact statuses remain ambiguous, dialogue quickly makes it clear that regardless of their ultimate fates, they all left Tangle Tower — and their children — behind first.
- Parental Neglect: Although it's clear that Felix, Flora, and Professor Pointer care for their children, it's equally clear that they aren't particularly attentive to them, or at least aren't capable of connecting with them in the ways that they need.
- Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Each of the bedrooms you unlock communicates a lot about its owner via the decor.
- Red Herring: A subplot involving rising tensions between Fifi, Poppy, Fitz, and Penny is ultimately irrelevant to Freya's murder.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Poppy will recite brief iambic rhyming poetry about every character except herself when shown a suspect profile.
- No, You: Examining the edge of the gardens' pond will prompt the following conversation:Sally: The pond has little stone feet!
Grimoire: ...seems a bit superfluous.
Sally: You're superfluous.
- Saying Too Much: Penny accidentally reveals that Detective Hawkshaw was hired by Professor Pointer. In her zeal to criticize the detective, Penny remarks that Pointer should ask her to behave better. When Sally responds with confusion as to why Pointer would be able to do that, a surprised Penny admits that he's Hawkshaw's client before asking, "Did you... not know that?"
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: When Hawkshaw is caught lying about her tiny telescope (which she claimed to be a microscope), she takes a single pause before spinning a lengthy, convincing story about how she longed to be an astronomer when she was young and brought the telescope, a childhood toy, to have it signed by Professor Pointer. Observant players can Spot the Thread by recalling that Pointer's supposed career in astronomy is itself a fabrication.
- Sequel Hook: The killer escapes, and more Mystids are at large.
- Sequel Non-Entity: Neither Officer James nor the little girl from the previous two titles make any appearance in this game. Their roles have been absorbed by Sally in her upgrade to sidekick. However, the little girl's Leitmotif can be heard at various points in the game, most notably when you receive the Soulbearer toy, seemingly from Freya's ghost.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Grimoire and Sally sarcastically banter about every single thing you can click on for the entire game. The game even opens with them sniping:Grimoire: You ready, Sally?
Sally: Grimoire, I've been standing here for seven and a half minutes.
- Songs in the Key of Lock: Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is how you resolve the harp statue puzzle.
- Stealthy Colossus: Played with. Fitz lurks in the shadows of the back of the greenhouse, and it is surprisingly easy for the player to gloss right over him, even with his linework in Squiggle Vision against the stationary painted backgrounds. When you first click on him, Grimoire will realize with horror that they're being watched, while Sally simply points out that Fitz is gigantic and has been standing in plain sight the whole time.