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Video Game / Elsinore

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Elsinore is a point-and-click adventure game by Golden Glitch Studios. It was funded on Kickstarter on May 27th, 2015, spent a long time in beta, and was finally released on PC through Steam on July 23nd, 2019.

The game adapts the plot of Hamlet placing us in Ophelia's shoes. She bears witness to the events of the play until a spy knifes her and leaves her body in a pond, bringing her story to an end.

...Except, it doesn't. Ophelia wakes back up in her bed on Thursday and finds events taking course just as they did before. Only a strange actor named Peter Quince appears to remember the past loops. He warns her she has four days to uncover the conspiracy behind her own murder while the royal family unravels and Prince Fortinbras of Norway lurks at the edges of the map.


Tropes, Tropes, Tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: All over the place, given that the player is presented with the point-of-view of the more kind-hearted Ophelia - who is more inclined to see the good in people - as opposed to that of the bitter and cynical Hamlet. In addition, almost every single character from the original play could be considered an example of this trope, since all of their more wicked actions are strongly implied to have been caused by Quince's machinations, rather than their own free will.
    • Hamlet himself, under certain conditions, displays a level of growth and maturity his canonical self never demonstrates, and in almost every instance where he is confronted with his selfish and immature behaviour, he expresses immediate regret and a desire to repent. The prince's more cruel moments towards Ophelia in the play are mostly written out, and he rather sincerely apologises should she tell him up-front how horrible he made her feel. Finally, he ends up having an instrumental part to play in Ophelia's (admittedly unsuccessful) plan to kill Quince and end the time loop.
    • In the original play, Gertrude was left a rather ambiguous character, with many questions about her left unanswered; did she know that Claudius murdered her late husband, for instance? Did she assist him in that murder? Was she having an affair with Claudius behind the late king's back? Elsinore confirms that, while she did begin an illicit relationship with Claudius before he murdered King Hamlet, she was left completely in the dark about Claudius' schemes and had no reason to want the former king dead. In fact, if the player allows Gertrude to discover the truth behind King Hamlet's death, her righteous anger leads her to confront her new husband in a vengeful rage.
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    • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were, at least in the Shakespearean play, sycophants who agreed to spy on their friend for the king. Here, their concern for Hamlet's wellbeing is established as their primary reason for coming to Elsinore, and they are both genuinely hurt when he spurns them.
    • Laertes had a minimal role in the play, ultimately serving as a final foe for Hamlet to confront before Claudius himself. Here, his compassion and love for his family and for Lady Brit are depicted in full, and he's even capable of reconciling with Hamlet (at least to a certain extent) should the player take certain steps.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Claudius didn't seem to think much of Ophelia in the original play, with her being little more than a useful pawn for him to use in his schemes. Here, he harbours an active dislike for her, partially because as Hamlet's on-and-off lover she presents an obstacle to Claudius marrying his nephew off for political gain, and partially (as Ophelia strongly implies) because of her race.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Both Horatio and Lady "Gilda" Guildenstern hold unrequited feelings toward Hamlet.
  • Alpha Bitch: New character, Lady "Brit" Birgitta repeatedly puts Ophelia down, even using overtly offensive language such as "half-rank". This is almost entirely a facade. Brit is trying to harden her own heart so she can assassinate Ophelia.
  • Big Bad: Peter Quince, a supernatural being capable of trapping people in time loops and subjecting them to endless torture, purely for his own amusement.
  • Big Brother Bully: Hamlet Senior was quite cruel to Claudius in his childhood.
  • Bi the Way: Ophelia's romance options include Lady Guildenstern and the female pirate captain who attacks Hamlet's ship.
  • Cosmic Deadline: The arrival of Fortinbras four days after the start of the loop will send Ophelia back to the beginning even if she survives.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Several characters can become “shattered,” preventing any more conversations with them this loop. Naturally Hamlet himself is the easiest to do it to, just by providing confirmation of any of his family’s skeletons in the closet.
  • Evil All Along: Peter Quince, who disguises himself as a sort-of guide to Ophelia before he reveals his true colours.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Anyone who is trapped by Peter Quince in a never-ending time loop is subject to this - Ophelia during the events of the game, King Hamlet before her, Simona before him, and countless others before her. Of course, since the Playmaster also gets trapped in the time loop along with whoever he had imprisoned, Quince himself is subjected to this trope.
    • King Hamlet has the misfortune of suffering this even after he escapes the time loop, as Quince keeps his spirit trapped on Elsinore's grounds, able to watch the world of the living but unable to fully be a part of it.
  • Gender Flip: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are now Ladies.
  • Golden Ending: Averted. Every single one of the game's 11 endings results in death and misfortune - even the sole path through the game's events that features no deaths strongly implies that a war with heavy losses is about to be waged anyway. Even the final, secret ending of the game results in a Fate Worse than Death for Ophelia as she traps herself in the time loop for good with Quince, preventing him from ever harming anyone else ever again.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: This game is an interesting example, as it quite explicitly encourages the player to go through both phases of the plot-type: experimentation, and resolution.
  • Historical Domain Character: The captain of the pirates who capture the ship that had been taking Hamlet to England turns out to be none other than Gráinne Mhaol (or Grace O'Malley), the infamous Irish pirate queen who sailed the seas during the 16th century.
  • Hope Spot: Should the player manage to turn both Hamlet and the King's Ghost against Quince, the plan to murder the Playmaster succeeds and Ophelia wakes up in her bed on Thursday once again - now seemingly in a much brighter world without Quince and his machinations. Before long, however, this merely turns out to be yet another of Quince's cruel tricks, and he brutally demonstrates to Ophelia just how much power he holds before she kills herself out of despair and frustration and wakes back up at the start of the time loop once again.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Ophelia's death in the original play was ruled a tragic accident, although some suspected suicide. Elsinore reveals that she was actually murdered by a spy before her body was dumped into the pond in order to resemble a drowning.
  • The Mole: It's established early on that Fortinbras of Norway has a loyal informant working in Elsinore, and it's this spy who murders Ophelia in the "default" timeline. Uncovering the spy's identity is one of the first goals Ophelia must achieve during the time loops, as otherwise the spy will find and kill her every time. It turns out to be Lady Brit.
  • The Ophelia: Ophelia can easily appear to be mad to other inhabitants of the castle and even be carted off to an institution. In reality, she's quite sane, and the iconic madness scene of the play never takes place.
  • People Puppets: Peter Quince demonstrates this power to Ophelia after her attempt to murder him, picking up several characters telekinetically and unnaturally snapping their necks without lifting a finger.
  • Race Lift: Ophelia & Laertes' mother was black. Thus, Ophelia & Hamlet's union is not problematic due to it being a morganatic one, but rather due to Ophelia's race. Other characters also become people of color, such as Horatio, Rosencrantz, & Guildenstern.
  • Romance Sidequest: Ophelia can rekindle her relationship with Hamlet, or she can pursue the barkeep Othello, begin a relationship with Lady Guildenstern or even the pirate captain Grace O'Malley, and given a certain turn of events, Claudius.
  • Shout-Out: The game owes plenty to Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead - another adaptation of Hamlet from the POV of a secondary character (or rather, two of them) who seem to be trapped in a never-ending time loop of the play's events, where none of their actions seem to be capable of freeing them from the absurd pointlessness of their existence. And furthermore, Stoppard's play originated the idea of the Player (given the name "Peter Quince" in Elsinore) as an all-knowing, mysterious observer with potentially malevolent goals. And just like in the play, Quince is seemingly stabbed and killed during the climax, only for his supposed death to have been a cruel ruse.
    • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Inevitable, given the source material.
      • The local bartender in Castle Town is named Othello. And, indeed, he does turn out to be the same character from the other Shakespearean tragedy - certain events in Elsinore may lead him to leave for Italy, where Quince claims he will marry a fair woman named "Desdemona", and the rest will be history.
      • In certain timelines, Laertes and Brit will conspire to murder Claudius, the King, in his sleep. The scene depicting the murder plays out almost identically to Macbeth's murder of King Duncan, with Brit taking the place of Lady Macbeth.
  • Talking Your Way Out: While you may pick up a few items in the game, your main way of interacting with the world is spreading hearsay.
  • Take a Third Option: By the game's conclusion, Ophelia realises that she is trapped for good. Either she gives the Book of Fates to Quince and escapes the loop (most likely to suffer further misfortune down the line anyway) and thereby allowing him to trap somebody else in another time loop, or she continues to search fruitlessly for a timeline where she can win. The secret ending of the game has her essentially refuse to act at all, keeping the book to herself and therefore trapping both herself and Quince in the loop forever in an eternal stalemate.
  • Time Abyss: Some of the other victims of the time loops tell Ophelia that they were made to suffer for hundreds if not thousands of years before they could finally escape. And since Peter Quince is stuck with them in each time loop he forces them into, and he has made countless people undergo loops, it can be inferred that he is far, far older than he appears. He even claims to have been the eagle that tore open Prometheus' chest every day in the days of Greek myth.
  • Transgender: Bernardo is qenderqueer, and moonlights as an actor for female roles (this being the time when acting was strictly a male profession).
  • Villain Protagonist: Some hearsay necessary to complete the game can only be obtained through seriously dubious actions. It's likely at least a few loops of the story will require you to be villainous.
  • Wham Line: When Ophelia speaks to the old woman, Simona, in Othello's bar on Sunday.
    Old Woman: My child, I am afraid you have been lied to. The one causing your world to repeat isn't the Book of Fates. It's Peter Quince.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Ophelia can shout from the rooftops that she's going through a time loop, but it'll just get her sent to an asylum.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Gertrude's diary reveals that she and Claudius were having an affair even before King Hamlet's death, as it was an arranged and loveless marriage.


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