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Video Game / Foul Play (2013)

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Foul Play is a side-scrolling co-op Beat 'em Up developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital.

The game is set around a play starring Victorian daemon-hunter Sebastian Dashforth, and his sidekick Scampwick Steerpike, acting out their life story on stage, hunting daemons in 5 plays. The game features RPG elements, such as a levelling system which unlocks special moves and unlockable charms, along with standard Beat 'em Up mechanics. What makes the game stand out is the whole "Play" aspect. Everything has the look of a stage show, right down to the background transitions and various other quirks, and health in the game is represented by a meter that quantifies crowd excitement, which can be restored by way of combos.

Foul Play was released on the 19th of September 2013 on Xbox Live Arcade and Steam, and then on the PlayStation 4 and Vita on the 23rd of February 2016.

Has nothing to do with the 1996 murder mystery adventure game of the same name.

This game provides trope examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The security robots in Atlantis (fourth act of Play 3) mistake Dashforth and Scampwick for criminals as soon as they set foot in there.
  • All There in the Manual: There are 3 books which the player can unlock pages for and read in the main menu.
    • Concerning Daemons: The diary of Horatio Dashforth, Sebastian's missing father.
    • Hunter's Journal: Sebastian Dashforth's diary.
    • My First Hunter's Guide!: Scampwick's guide, which has information on all of the defeated bosses.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The main antagonists of Play 4 are a cult trying to summon a Flame Daemon to destroy London. Their leader ends up possessed by said Daemon.
  • Asshole Victim: The Guide in Play 1. He leads Dashforth and Scampwick to a trap to be killed and looted by bandits. He is soon captured by possessed laborers at a dig site and taken to the Pharaoh's chamber, where the latter consumes his soul.
  • Badass Bookworm: Dashfort is a daemonologist and researcher of the occult, and is perfectly able to beat any manner of daemon back to hell with his cane.
  • Body Horror: There are some examples, but the most obvious are the Squid Zombies (who were formerly human before turning into squid-like creatures) and the Tentacle Daemon (a possessed Captain Blowhard) in Play 3. Subverted in that they're people in suits, the game taking place in a theatre play and all, but in universe, the play is Based on a True Story, which means Dashforth and Scampwick did face these horrors.
    Dashforth: Some daemons distort a man's mind, Mr. Scampwick. Others are... less subtle.
  • Cane Fu: Dashforth's weapon is his walking cane.
  • Catchphrase: "Always expect Foul Play"
  • Combat Tentacles: The Squid Zombies and the Tentacle Daemon, obviously.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Dashforth and Scampwick v.s. An incredibly large number of Mooks. The heroes win.
  • The Reveal: The titular Foul Play was planned by the heroes to get a large group of people together to help him open a Hell Gate and save his father
  • Rule of Three: Sebastian explains that, in order to open a Hell gate, one needs three things. A proper location, the right time, and more willpower than it is humanly possible, which is why daemonic summonings are carried out by cults. This last reason is why Sebastian and Scampwick organize the play, in order to make an improvised cult out of their cheering audience.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Cultist Leader in Play 4. Lampshaded in Scampwick's Diary.
    Scampwick: You see, this exactly is what happens when you mess with stuff you do not understand. First is all "Let's bring hellfire down on our enemies" , next is all "Help!", "Oh god IT BURNS!" and "Who would have thought hellfire HURTS!"
  • Special Effects Failure: In-universe examples occur with various theatrical quirks, such as janitors being on stage with the actors at awkward times, enemies having to be reminded of their lines, and the mechanical components clearly visible in the scenery transitions.
  • Vaudeville Hook: Used to pull some knocked out mooks off-stage at random times.
  • Your Vampires Suck: The final levels of Play 2 is full of Take Those towards romanticized vampires such as those depicted in Anne Rice novels. Not even Count Notferatu, their leader, approves of the behavior and fashion sense that his fellow kin has adopted.
    Count Notferatu: It's the frills... Vampires have never been the same since they started wearing frills.