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Video Game / Detectives United

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Detectives United is a series of Hidden Object Games from Elephant Games. It brings together heroes from three of their biggest mystery game series to fight incredibly complex crimes that they would separately be unable to handle. Anna Gray and her father Richard from the Grim Tales series, James Blackthorne from Haunted Hotel, and Agent Brown from Mystery Trackers become a united front of field agents who delve into the impossible.

The first game, Origins, explains how the partnership came into existence. The Mystery Trackers organization is contacted by the Queen of the United Kingdom, asking for help, and they soon find themselves working alongside James and Anna to save the world from being completely undone.

The sequel, The Darkest Shrine, brings the team in to stop a mysterious organization called S.H.R.I.N.E., which is using dark magic to summon monsters and destroy significant locations around the world. Their motives are unclear, but they have to be stopped.


This series unites the following tropes:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In the third act of Origins, the Big Bad creates a number of false alarms to lure all the Mystery Trackers field agents away from their headquarters, then storms the premises. Fortunately, what he's looking for is no longer there, and he leaves Agent Shade unharmed.
  • Another Dimension: The Big Bad of Darkest Shrine wants to connect to a couple of these. You visit one in the bonus chapter.
  • Another Side, Another Story: You play as all three of the DU field agents, switching back and forth as the plot requires.
  • Befriending the Enemy: At the end of each game, the Big Bad - whose Freudian Excuse has been removed - is reformed and becomes an ally of the detectives.
  • Big Fancy Castle: In the second game, S.H.R.I.N.E. uses an ancient castle in England as their headquarters.
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  • Boarding School: St. Mary's Orphanage in the second game seems to actually be one of these. It's explicitly given that name, but several portraits are seen depicting members of Anna's family, and she particularly notes that one of her nieces "studies" there.
  • Body Horror: The Big Bad of Darkest Shrine turns himself into an abomination to fight the field agents.
  • Call-Back/Continuity Nod: Raincliff (from the Mystery Trackers series) is an important location in the first game. There are a number of references found in the series, such as newspaper clippings about other cases, which are this for the adventures the heroes have in their individual series. The second game sees each of the field agents returning to a location which was significant during one of their own games.
  • Character Portrait: The lower right corner of the game screen shows oval portraits of each of the three field agents. When switching from one to another, the player clicks on the character whose point of view they're adopting.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: Anna Gray, Agent Brown, and James Blackthorne. (They already had these names in their origin series, but it still fits.)
  • Comm Links: The "device," as it's simply called, is a portable communicator which looks rather like a television. It allows the field agents to stay in contact with HQ and each other, and it also analyzes data, interprets map coordinates, and does pretty nearly anything the plot requires.
  • Cosmetic Award: The unlockable achievements in the collector's editions.
  • Crisis Crossover: The three disparate agents/agencies are initially brought together in Origins by the fact that the Big Bad poses a threat to the whole world. The implication is that the Grim Tales, Mystery Trackers, and Haunted Hotel franchises all exist in the same universe; however, the events of the Detectives United series do not seem to have affected those series in any way.
  • Curse Cut Short: Agent Brown, in the bonus chapter of Darkest Shrine, gives one of these. "Holy sh-!"
  • Dark Is Evil: In the second game's bonus chapter, it seems like Anna - who is on vacation, according to James - is responsible for the current crime. It's what Agent Brown calls a "dark doppelganger." He's the first one to figure out that the woman they're seeing is not, in his words, "our Anna."
  • Dissonant Serenity: Agent Shade has this going on at times. No matter what's happening, she almost never sounds upset or concerned. She's shown at one point to be sitting calmly and drinking tea, almost seeming to not even be listening, while the others talk about a recent case. She's also occasionally guilty of Dull Surprise.
  • Distress Ball: The three detectives each pick this up on occasion, needing one or both of the other two to rescue them. The first such major incident happens in Origins, when the Collector traps Anna in the past, and James and Agent Brown have to bring her back to the present.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Origins feels almost like a Whole Plot Reference to Avengers: Infinity War, what with the Big Bad threatening to unravel the world with a snap of his fingers after first collecting a specific group of Plot Coupons.
  • Enemy Mine: Seen in the bonus chapter of Darkest Shrine. In the alternate dimension, Dark James has been betrayed by Dark Anna and Dark Brown, so he no longer wants to help them. (The nature of the betrayal is not revealed.) He doesn't really want to help our heroes either, but he does because he wants revenge on his former friends.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A recurring theme. Neither of the villains in the first two games is really evil; they've just been driven to evil extremes by the deaths of their families. The wife and twin children of the first Big Bad were murdered by criminals, and the wife and son of the second were killed in a terrible car accident. Anna can go back in time to prevent both tragedies, thereby averting the present-day calamities which resulted.
  • Evil Twin: In the bonus chapter of Darkest Shrine, the heroes each have one of these. They're almost indistinguishable from the player characters, except for some wardrobe differences and Red Eyes, Take Warning.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The three field agents (and Agent Shade to an extent) become this by the end of the first game. James muses on it in the sequel, noting that "I haven't known the other detectives for long, but I feel a strong kinship with them." note 
  • Fun with Acronyms: We never do learn, in the second game, what the acronym S.H.R.I.N.E. actually means. It seems to exist purely to create a pun in the game title.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Throughout the games, players must keep their eyes peeled for morphing objects, figurines of the characters, and puzzle pieces which can be assembled to form pictures of the various scenes.
  • Hidden Object Game
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Agent Brown is occasionally guilty of this, usually when he's giving James a bit of playful grief. For instance, in the bonus chapter of the second game, he hands his colleague a broom and says that he should be able to "clean up" the mystery in no time.
  • Invisibility: In the latter third of the first game, Agent Brown finally explains to the other two why he's completely covered from head to toe, including a face mask and goggles - it's to conceal the fact that he's invisible.
  • Jump Scare: Expect at least one or two of these in every maze.
  • Last-Name Basis: Subverted. Agents Shade and Brown never have their first names revealed in these games. However, playing Mystery Trackers games reveals that those aren't their names at all, but rather code names within the Mystery Trackers organization. Their real names are unknown to the player in either series.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Although the three field agents are working together, whichever two are not currently the player character will usually walk away from the third one. Taken to extremes in the sequel, when all three are sent to different parts of the world.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Played straight and subverted in Origins:
    • The Big Bad, known as "the Collector," plays it straight. He has a gold-colored mask which covers most of his face.
    • Agent Brown subverts it. He has the look, which may prompt some players to expect him to turn out to be The Mole, but he's genuinely a good guy.
  • The Maze: There are a few of these, which usually can't be navigated until you've first found the map.
  • Membership Token: At the end of the first game, Agent Shade presents the three field agents with official badges identifying them as the members of Detectives United. In the sequel, all three wear the badges prominently.
  • Mission Control: Agent Shade, from the Mystery Trackers, acts as this for the three field agents.
  • Nice Hat: James is never seen without his hat.
  • Occult Detective: Each of the three partners is this individually, and then they work together on cases which take the occult Up to Eleven.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Early in Darkest Shrine, Richard addresses Anna as "my favorite daughter." She is, of course, his only daughter (or at least the only one seen in this series).
  • Point-and-Click Game: The puzzles which are not hidden object scenes fall into this.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Anna wears a purple skirt-and-jacket suit combo, and has impressive supernatural abilities.
  • Red Filter of Doom:
    • Seen a lot in the second game, as an indicator of dark magic at work.
    • In the alternate dimension visited in the bonus chapter, the Alien Sky gives this appearance to everything.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The end of Origins makes it clear that the partnership, which had previously been chiefly circumstantial, has become official and permanent, paving the way for further adventures.
    • The end of the bonus chapter of Darkest Shrine shows that Dark Anna is still a problem for the team.
  • Serious Business: In the second game's bonus chapter, Agent Brown is so unnerved by the behavior of the dark Anna copy that he doesn't even tease James.
  • Spanner in the Works: Agent Brown is this to the Big Bad in the first game. As he eventually reveals to his partners, he took one of the necessary Plot Coupons with him back at the beginning of the adventure, which prevents the villain from stealing it when he invades Mystery Trackers headquarters.
  • Stable Time Loop: Completely averted in this series. Going back to change the past not only works exactly the way they intend, but in the present day, the reformed villains seem to be aware that the detectives helped them and become their allies.
  • Storming the Castle: Literally in Darkest Shrine, as the enemy organization headquarters are in an ancient castle, and the field agents must break in to stop their plans and rescue Richard.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: This is Agent Brown's solution, in the bonus chapter of Darkest Shrine, to a pile of debris blocking a door. He refers to it as cleaning up the mess "the old-fashioned way."
  • Time Travel: Anna's particular hat; this factors into resolving the main cases, by going back in time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Title Drop: At the end of the first game, Agent Shade proposes the series title as the name for their newly formed group.
  • Token Non-Human: Anna's father, Richard, is this for the team. He's dead, but his daughter carries around his enchanted skull (it makes sense in context) and his ghost frequently helps with the investigations. He even gets stolen in the second game. Somewhat overlaps with Spirit Advisor.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The three field agents. Anna occasionally refers to James and Agent Brown as "the boys."
  • Vague Age: James looks to be in his late twenties or early thirties, but it's impossible to tell how old either of the other two are. Agent Brown is constantly wearing a mask over his face (for good reason, as it turns out). Anna doesn't look any older than James, but given her family's proclivities for the supernatural, that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: James and Agent Brown have this sort of vibe to their interactions. They clearly like and respect each other and are willing to help each other out of trouble, but Agent Brown frequently gives James a hard time. Never Anna, just James.
  • Weirdness Censor: About as justified as possible, given their occupations, but practically nothing seems to be too weird for these guys.

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