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Video Game / Ghost of a Tale

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A massive adventure for this tiny mouse.

Ghost of a Tale is a 3D stealth Action-Adventure game where you play as Tilo, a mouse minstrel who has been imprisoned by the Rats of the Red Paw Army and sent to Keep on a remote Island in the middle of a lake called Dwindling Heights. It was developed by, and initially released on Steam Early Access in July 2016, before getting ported to Xbox One on June 30th, 2017, fully launching on PC on March 13th, 2018, and getting released on PS4 on March 12th, 2019.

The Keep where you have been sent to is rugged and has seen better days as well as most of the guards around. Together with the help of some questionable characters, you will need to find your way out of this place and find and save your wife who also has been taken prisoner.

Gameplay revolves around getting around undetected and escaping out of sight and hide from any guards that do see you. Being a minstrel and small compared to the rats means you don't have the power to fight off the guards, but you can easily hide inside baskets, chests, small closets and many other places. These are also the only places you can save at.


Ghost of a Tale provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Ouma Rezzia acts tooth-achingly sweet to everyone, including Tilo, and doesn't drop the act even after he survives her poisoning attempt, giving him a chance to just let bygones be bygones without betraying him to the Guard.
  • And the Adventure Continues: For most of the characters. At the end of the game, Tilo sails of to Periclave to find Merra, Silas plans to find out more about his father, and Gusto and Fatale presumably travel to Pesa as they had been planning.
  • The Atoner: Silas. He's trying to atone for the death of Tilo's son, who died because Silas was drunk and couldn't help.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Almost all characters are anthropomorphic animals and are walking barefoot.
  • The Bard: Tilo as a minstrel.
  • Bling of War: Duinlan's armor can only be gotten by doing side quests for Duinlan, and is some of the best armor in the game. Like the guards armor, it lets you pass guards without problem, but it doesn't slow you down.
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  • But Thou Must! / Failure Is the Only Option / "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Magpies allegedly eat anyone who dares approach them but royalty. Tilo tries to disguise himself as a king, despite the fact that mice haven't had a king for a thousand years. The magpie refuses to acknowledge his presence until he disguises himself as a king, forcing Tilo to assemble the disguise, but once Tilo does, the magpie immediately sees through the disguise, rendering it pointless. Once Tilo tells him that he's a minstrel, the magpie agrees to spare him, noting that minstrels are better than kings, presumably due to the fact that they share knowledge, something that magpies hold in high esteem. Unfortunately, you can't proceed with the plot simply by dressing up as a minstrel; you have to lie.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Almost every NPC in the game is this, due to the game's very dense plot.
    • The very first character you're introduced to, the mad frog pirate Kerod, seems to just be a silly fellow prisoner who exists to give you a bit of exposition about the jail and sort of tutorialize you on how quests work in the game, while talking about the conversations he's been having with good old Captain Powderkeg ever since the two of them wrecked their ship just offshore and they were thrown in prison. A bit of searching reveals a rat skeleton in the next cell wearing a pirate hat, but Kerod refuses to believe that his friend is dead and that he hasn't really been talking to him all this time. Kerod later ends up playing a small role in several later quests, but it seems like he's just sort of a quirky NPC. It turns out that Captain Powderkeg is very much alive, that the shipwreck probably saved the world from another Zombie Apocalypse, and that everything he was talking about plays a major role in the endgame.
    • The rat blacksmith, Rolo, is the first rat NPC you encounter who doesn't attack you on sight. He offers to sell you tips and maps, serving as a store of sorts. He later serves to make or upgrade a few costume pieces, but he seems to be otherwise uninvolved in the plot, and when asked why he's willing to help, will actually charge money for the answer - and then claim it is just because the pay is lousy and he wants to put away enough money to retire on. However, he seems to have some Hidden Depths - he seems to know about everything that is going on around the prison, helps to put Tilo on the right track several times, particularly about the Master's smuggling ring. Rolo is actually Captain Otto Powderkeg, he murdered the original blacksmith and took his place, he doesn't care about escaped prisoners because he himself is one of them, he accepts money not for himself but to send to the family of the blacksmith he murdered, and he later murders the jailer, resulting in a lockdown of the prison, because the jailer was getting too close to the cursed treasure that he'd buried nearby years ago and had been keeping an eye on in disguise ever since. He ends up being crucial in saving the world from the Green Flame in the end of the game, battling zombie pirates while Tilo blows up the treasure with explosives.
    • Merra, Tilo's wife, refused to sing "The Poisoned Cup" to the local rat baron, a song about how mice cowardly betrayed the rats during the war against the Green Flame. It turns out that Merra was actually a rebel, and that she had been summoned to sing the song because the baron strongly suspected she was involved in the rebellion. Merra's refusal resulted in both her and her husband being imprisoned, with Tilo believing it was nothing more than random cruelty on the part of the baron.
    • Ouma Rezzia, the kindly old mouse cook, gives Tilo free food and is willing to sell him more food, as well as offering him a minor sidequest to track down bee queens for the abandoned hives. She seems like just a minor flavor side-character to show that not all mice are treated poorly by the rats. Until the end of the game, when you discover she is the Master, a smuggler operating out of Dwindling Heights, and she poisons Tilo when he gets too close to the truth. After Tilo recovers and turns her into the commander, she disappears, only to reappear in the end game, trying to kill Tilo yet again to get at the hidden pirate's treasure - and dying gruesomely after trying to pilfer it, as it is cursed by the Green Flame.
  • Closed Circle: No one is allowed to leave Dwindling Heights until the missing jailer is found. It turns out he's dead and his body was thrown down the well. Silas is blamed for the murder, resulting in his capture and imprisonment.
  • Code Name: Gusto tells Tilo to call him ShadowPhoenix. Fatale immediately reveals both their real names.
  • Developers' Foresight: Silas is full of this.
    • Wearing an outfit when first talking to silas will cause him to comment on it, such as asking why Tilo is hiding his face if you're wearing the thief's mask.
    • Silas will also comment on what you're carrying, such as asking about why you've a bottle.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Green Flame is described as a force of nature. It has no goal, no conscience, no personality. It simply exists, reanimates, and spreads.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: According to background information the rats stopped a Zombie Apocalypse that wiped out several other kingdoms and took over their territory. They also claim the mice betrayed them during that war, which justified the conquest of their kingdom and explains why they're treated as second-class citizens by some rats today.
  • Everybody Knew Already: Early on, Tilo assembles a guard uniform to disguise himself. Being a mouse, he is vastly smaller than all of the rat guards, but he thinks he's passing as a scrawny rat recruit, despite the fact that almost every NPC he talks to immediately sees through whatever disguise he was wearing and calls him a mouse. Later on, Silas tells him that no one cares that he's a mouse, they care that he's an escaped prisoner.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Commander is never given a name. We don't learn the name of the Blacksmith until the very end of the game. It's Otto Powderkeg
  • Evil Old Folks: Ouma Rezzia the castle chef is the head of a smuggling ring working out of the castle and looking for Captain Powderkegs treasure which causes a small scale Zombie Apocalypse. Captain Powderkeg himself debatably qualifies, though it's ambiguous just how bad of a person he actually is.
  • Faking the Dead: Captain Powderkeg faked his death by switching places with another prisoner to protect the treasure from causing another Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Funny Animal: Almost all the characters look like real animals, especially the 3D models, but they wear clothes, have societies and different languages, poetry and music, culture, and they stand mostly on 2 feet but can also make use of their animal-like body structure.
  • Gag Penis: The song "The Rat with two Tails". Let's just say that the second tail in question is not a tail.
  • Giftedly Bad: The Commander of Dwindling Keep is an enthusiastic amateur musician, with excruciating emphasis on "amateur." One minor challenge in the game is enduring one of his songs long enough to answer a quiz about it afterward.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game provides quests to what you're supposed to do, but not how to do it, which can cause you to get stuck very easily.
  • Half-Truth: Literally, in the case of the Magpies. They value information and knowledge more highly than anything else in the world, and therefore abhor liars. But they'll also happily dice up their advice into pieces and then sell it one piece at a time, which is part of the reason their counsel often costs a king's ransom.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Silas says it nearly word for word when he explains to Tilo his true reason for helping him: Silas was the guard sergeant at the waystation that held up Tilo and his wife while their son, Brin, was dying of a spider bite, due to the mice not having the right papers. Silas was drunk that evening, but nevertheless tried to save Brin's life by riding out ahead with him - and failed. Guilt over his failure drives him to try and save Tilo from prison. Ironically, both times, Tilo got him in trouble - the first time by revealing to Silas's superiors that Silas was drunk, and the second time by finding the murdered body of the jailer, who the commander of Dwindling Heights believed was murdered by Silas.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Even clothed, the characters in this game are mostly half-dressed.
  • Hammerspace: Big enough to fit several disguises, multiple bottles as big as Tilo's head, loads of mushrooms and foods, many maps and writings, as well as other items you collect along the way.
  • Hidden Depths: All of the NPCs, except for the Commander.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Much of the main cast.
    • Fatale is a thief, but for all of her lying and stealing, she does have a sense of right and wrong. She can't sleep after she accidentally steals a carving representing Tilo's dead son on first meeting him, feeling intense guilt over doing so, and eventually fesses up and returns it. She also returns Silas's spyglass to Tilo secretly, and generally hides her softer nature from her brother, Gusto. She also forces Gusto to do the right thing in helping out other people and not being so selfish.
    • Silas is much more kindhearted than he lets on. At first, it seems like he's forcing Tilo to work for him, but it becomes clear over the course of the game that he is driven by guilt over something, and knows more than it seems. It turns out that he'd previously tried to save Tilo's son's life, and felt an intense sense of guilt for failing to do so. He treats Tilo kindly and patiently, even when Tilo steals from him, and eventually opens up about what is going on with him. He refuses to break out of prison, feeling his failure to save Tilo's wife and son means he deserves to die anyway, but in the end, he helps to save the world from the Green Flame.
    • Rolo treats Tilo gruffly and seems to have little affection for him beyond how much information Tilo can pay for, but as the game goes on he gradually grows a bit fonder of him and encourages him to stay safe and away from dangerous situations. It turns out he's actually Captain Otto Powderkeg in disguise, and the reason why he requires money for his hints is because he's sending money to the family of the blacksmith who he murdered and replaced out of guilt. He's been secretly protecting the world from the Green Flame ever since his ship accidentally brought a conduit for it ashore, though unlike the other examples, he's an outright murderer.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: This game loves that trope.
    • You find Captain Powderkeg's hat early on on a skeleton in a cell, and later read about how he was scheduled to be hanged only four days after being brought in, well before you got there, as well as another prisoner going missing a few days after. The body in the cell was actually the other prisoner, with Captain Powderkeg being alive and well, and the first friendly rat NPC you meet - though you don't find that out until the end of the game.
    • The rat kingdom was left without an heir due to the disappearance and presumed death of the Coward King, who had no known children. The second friendly rat NPC you meet is actually the son of the Coward King, and the disappearance of the Coward King was not due to him fleeing the kingdom.
    • There's a sidequest that involves burning banners which are hanging all over the keep; some of these are hung high on walls, and due to their nature as scenery, it's easy to overlook them.
    • Tilo's wife, Meera, was working for the rebels the whole time, but Tilo didn't realize what was going on until weeks after being imprisoned; it becomes quite obvious in retrospect.
    • Dunlain's gender would be obvious to anyone who paid their proper respects, but no one did.
    • Bottles are a common item in the game, used to distract or knock out guards. You find some all over the keep, but particularly in a few common areas, as well as up in Silas's tower. The player is unlikely to think more of this until Silas gets drunk towards the end of the game, revealing that he is a drunkard in the process.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Gusto claims that Fatale is no liar. She disagrees.
  • In-Series Nickname: Duinlan Heights, named for the ancient hero Duinlan, is called Dwindling Heights by most characters, since it's fallen into disrepair.
  • The Insomniac: Fatale, you can help her fall asleep. She later reveals that she can't sleep due to feeling bad for stealing Tilo's lutka, a figurine of his son.
  • Lovable Rogue: Gusto and Fatale, particularly the latter.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The Green Flame is seemingly a force of nature that can raise the dead and wiped out several kingdoms before being stopped, some stories imply that people could communicate with it, but no one knows for sure. Yet, Duinlan and her allies managed to seal it away and Tilo, Rolo and Silas manage to stop another Zombie Apocalypse in its tracks by blowing up a chest of Green Rocks channeling its power with explosives.
  • Master of Disguise: Tilo with his little costumes. Though it is frequently called out that many of his disguises are seriously flawed - he is far too short to pass for a rat, making his species immediately obvious to all but a few people, and his king costume outright fails to fool the only person it was supposed to.
  • My Greatest Failure: Silas's greatest regret is being a drunkard resulting in the death of Tilo's son. Tilo and his wife didn't have the proper papers, and the rat guards held them up until Silas was roused, at which point he cursed them and rode ahead himself, trying to carry Brin to a doctor to be treated for a spider bite. Silas got lost on the way in the deep snow, but it isn't clear whether being drunk played a role in that - and despite Silas blaming himself, it isn't even clear if any of it made any difference. Silas feels a deep sense of guilt over this, and tries to rescue Tilo as a sort of penance - and falls back into drinking when he learns that Meera has likely died.
  • Never Bareheaded: In-universe example. A part of the mice culture is to always wear a headdress. Tilo can't even un-equip his disguise headdresses without putting back on his trusty Minstrel hat.
  • Nice Hat: Tilo's Minstrel hat.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: The frog pirate you meet early on in the game seems to be quite crazy - he believes his captain is still alive (despite the rat skeleton wearing a pirate hat in the next room over), constantly suggests that Tilo kill people for annoying him, talks about how the captain once ate his leg after they got stranded on an island for two hours, and tells various other strange stories and behaves erratically in general. This seems to be exposed as a ruse when, after disguising yourself as Captain Powderkeg, he becomes rather more serious, and suggests destroying the treasure that they buried because it wasn't meant to be found. When you find out that Captain Powderkeg had actually been alive all along, it even suggests that the frog's conversations with Powderkeg had been real and not imagined, as he could very well have been visiting his friend down in the cells. Then in the final conversation with Captain Powderkeg, it turns out that the leg eating incident was real - but that the frog had cooked his leg to serve it up to him himself, suggesting that he was crazy all along after all.
  • Oubliette: Early on, you're told about the famous Captain Powderkeg by a frog pirate who is imprisoned near Tilo's cell. The frog talks about how he frequently has conversations with him, but when Tilo visits the nearby cell, all he finds is a skeleton wearing a pirate hat. All attempts to tell the frog pirate that his buddy is dead fail. Subverted when it turns out that Captain Powderkeg is very much alive and that you've been talking to him almost the entire game.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A number of NPCs immediately recognize Tilo as a mouse, no matter what disguise he is wearing. He later disguises himself as a king to speak to a magpie, who asks him various questions, forcing him to try and come up with lies to cover up for the various flaws in his disguise. When the magpie notes that the king he is impersonating lost his tail in a battle, one of Tilo's possible responses is that it is a false tail, to which the magpie notes it is a false tale, alright. It turns out that the magpie wasn't fooled at all and was just messing with him.
  • Propaganda Piece: Some of Tilo's songs are clearly written as either propaganda for the Red Claw, or satire aimed at them.
    • The Ballad of the Coward King is a rather heavy-handed critique of the last rat king before the red claw, with the implication that it makes him come across as far worse than he actually was in order to glorify the red claw.
    • The Poisoned Cup is meant to justify the mice's place in society as a lower class by describing how they betrayed their allies to save their own skin. Considering that the events of the song heavily contradict other stories about the green flame as a nonsapient force incapable of bargaining, it's rather obviously fake or exaggerated.
    • Murder of Crows is satire on the other side of the political spectrum, written by a mouse minstrel as a critique of the ruling rats.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Dwindling Keep's rat guards are hulking, growling brutes, but still mostly decent people who just want to do their jobs and feed their kids.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The keep's Commander initially comes off as a stuck-up, clueless toff...which he is, for the most part. But he's not excessively rash or cruel towards his men, and is happy to promote Tilo to Sergeant if he's proven his worth. This goes out the window when he orders Silas arrested and executed for the jailer's death, despite having next to no evidence.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Deconstructed with Silas who is the son of the last Rat King, the problem is his father was seen as a disgrace and even if he was seen as worthy of ruling his people the five barons would probably have him executed to stay in power. It is later implied by a magpie that the king wasn't the coward that he is commonly believed to be, and that there was more going on that is not public knowledge.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Being stationed at Dwindling Heights is punishment for screwing up in the rat army, which explains why a lot of the guards (and the commander) are either corrupt or incompetent. Of course, it also means that a couple of them might be willing to look the other way when a prisoner escapes...
  • Resourceful Rodent: The main character, Tilo, has to outsmart the rats by hiding from them, distracting them, or by knocking them out with bottles and barrels.
  • RPGs Equal Combat: There are some RPG Elements and combat in the game, but it's mostly an infiltration and stealth affair.
  • Running on All Fours: When Tilo runs and is not wearing heavy armor.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Not Tilo, but an In-Universe example occurs with Duinlan.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Gusto and Fatale flee the prison after Silas is arrested and they start building a gallows for him in the center of the prison. Things get very serious at that point until the end of the game, but it turns out they didn't abandon Tilo and show up again at the very end to help out - just after the nick of time.
  • Shout-Out: One piece of gear Tilo can get is a helmet with a candle that never goes out much like another rodent on a grand adventure with an epic song.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: If Tilo does quests for Gusto and Fatale, they teach him new skills of your choice.
  • Stealth-Based Game: Most of the game is about getting around unnoticed. Tilo's only options for offense is throwing sticks and bottles, which can kill spiders but not guards, luring enemies into traps, which only exist in some locations, and explosives, which are few and far between, and are far too heavy and cumbersome to be any use in combat. Tilo himself dies after only a few hits from a guard.
  • Step One: Escape: This game starts with the player character waking up in a prison cell. The first task is obviously trying to get out.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Gusto and Fatale show up after the final battle is over.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Out of all the places Powderkeg could have hidden the crystals he chose The Bone Shore, a place known for both corpses from previos battles littering the ground at random and for being the place where all the bodies of those that drown in the lake wash up, either of those should have made it a bad idea to hide something that can cause a Zombie Apocalypse there.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Tilo has two Lutka, figurines representing spouses and children. One covered in lime for his living wife, and one covered in ash for his deceased son.
    • Silas also has one, representing his Ouma (woman who raised him). Though she is dead, he hasn't managed to bring himself to soot it.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Captain Powderkeg ended up on the island of Periclave and took some of the Green Rocks there as a treasure, he realized to late that the crystals channel the Green Flames power. Also, Razzia and Tilo both try to open the treasure chest for their own reasons which kills the former.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Magpies treat knowledge as a religion. Anyone who earns their counsel can be assured that whatever they say will be true.
  • You Dirty Rat!: The rats are The Empire and treat mice as inferiors. Subverted, however, in that many of the rats are very decent people, and many of the mice aren't.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Captain Otto Powderkeg feels this way about the blacksmith that he murdered.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: According to the intro the setting had one in its backstory.


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