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Video Game / Lighthouse: The Dark Being

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Enter the Unknown.
Sometimes simply known as Lighthouse, this pre-rendered first-person adventure game was released in 1996 hard on the heels of Myst, by none other than Sierra. It can now be purchased on

On the coast of Oregon, you have moved to a cozy house to work on a story for the press, when it so happened that the nearby lighthouse, which was thought to be abandoned, has been purchased and refurbished by a Dr. Jeremiah Krick. Stranger still, during thunderstorms, lightning seems to strike the lamp housing and change the typical beam into a strange phenomenon reminiscent of St. Elmo's Fire, before spontaneously shutting down entirely. Then, one particularly bad night, just when your motivation to write has run out, Dr. Krick leaves a frantic voicemail on your phone asking you to babysit his infant daughter, Amanda while he's away. With strange events like that weird glow happening, Dr. Krick must be hiding a big secret.

Lighthouse provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Martin and Lyril, both inhabitants of the Parallel World.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Later releases of the game added a "Need a Hint?" button in the main menu. And the 15 Puzzle has a "Solve It?" button thrown in by backing out and zooming on it in four times.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Jeremiah's journal, leading up to his hectic phone call in the intro.
  • Big Bad: The titular Dark Being. After he ruined much of the parallel world's surroundings, once he caught notice of Jeremiah's portal, he swiftly reverse-engineered it, probably in a plan to dominate Earth.
  • Berserk Button: Lyril gets angry if you try to enter her room or mess with the electromagnet before the Birdman shows up.
  • Cool Ship: The fish-shaped submarine that covers more of the parallel world than any other vehicle combined, short of using portals. Comes complete with a mini-sub, to boot.
  • Cool Train: The big mining tram inside the Dark Being's Volcano Lair. It has a huge drill mounted in the front, along with a crane in the back and a helpful toolbox. It's not foolproof, though, as it can derail and crash from a broken section of track if you're not careful.
  • Control Room Puzzle: Natch, given it's Sierra's take on Myst. A prominent example is how the lighthouse's portal is started.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The start of the game seemingly paints the Dark Being as just a weird, humanoid monster that talks in gibberish, which Dr. Krick is led to believe for some time. Then as the game goes on, you start to see signs of intelligence in engineering and sabotage, taken to extremes when you reach his domain.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The priests designed a "particle-ionizing vacuum cannon", designed to contain the Dark Being. Each part was built seperately, but upon completion, the priests set out on their ship to collect those parts and assemble them. However, their ship collided with a reef and sank, leaving you to find those parts yourself.
  • Electric Torture: The Dark Being did this to Jeremiah Krick in an attempt to force him into revealing his research. At the end of the game, you also have to use the torture machine to wake him up.
  • Eternal Engine: The Dark Being's lair certainly fits the trope, given the Steampunk aesthetics.
  • Evil Knockoff: The Dark Being stole Dr. Krick's blueprints to replicate his portal device, and this one involves a complicated sequence just to turn it on. It still requires the same kind of bulb, and lightning to work, though.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Subverted. The Bag of Holding you carry around looks like a purse, so you may be a woman, there's a journal describing why you're here, and a couple of your phone messages are from a rather overprotective mother, and your editor who's demanding signs of your work.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Martin. He constructed a flying, bird-like android, a fully-functional bat-shaped ornithopter, and an incredibly complicated puzzle box.
  • Giant Mook: The Dark Being unleashed a hulking monster on the Island Fortress, which not only scared off its inhabitants, but also blocks your path to key areas within it. Getting rid of the thing once and for all is one of your objectives there.
  • Late to the Tragedy: By the time you reach the parallel world, the temple Priests are long dead, along with the inventor Martin, just months after his meeting with Jeremiah Krick. Lyril implies that the Dark Being drove off everyone else long ago, which is why hardly anyone else is around.
  • Lighthouse Point: A rare justified example, given that this lighthouse is in Oregon, which is home to multiple real-life lighthouses.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Dr. Krick's portal device is powered by lightning refracted through the lighthouse's Fresnel lens, and requiring the use of a special bulb to handle the electricity. Naturally, when the portal shuts, it also knocks out the lighthouse's power.
  • Mad Scientist: In comparison to Dr. Krick being simply sleep-deprived and fairly irritable, the Dark Being is positively ecstatic and determined to do whatever he wants.
  • Man in the Machine: Lyril can't go anywhere without her life support chair, and since it's mounted to a rail, she can't leave the Temple.
  • Message in a Bottle: One of the first things you'll find in the parallel world, sent by the Priests who died when their ship sank, complete with coordinates from their last known location. You can also show this to Lyril, who up to that point had been waiting for them to come back.
  • Multiple Endings: Whatever you do in the Dark Being's lair determines the game's ending. Actually capturing him requires using the cannon before the Dark Being fully activates his portal, for instance.
  • Mr. Exposition: Half of the backstory you're given is described in Dr. Krick's journal, which you can take with you. The other half is relegated to Lyril, who has been trained to memorize histories. Unfortunately, the latter is partially hampered by her half-broken wheelchair.
  • Noodle Incident: It's never explained what sort of accident Lyril endured to need life support, just that it took out her lower legs, and she describes said life support device as, "My heartbeat, my breath, and my blood."
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Dr. Krick had intended to use his portal device to create wormholes to cross light-years of space instantly. His test runs proved that it leads to a Parallel Universe instead.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In typical Sierra fashion, forgetting to take several items from your house at the beginning can make the game Unwinnable, like a lighter that you need to fire a cannon to get rid of a Mook, or your umbrella to hold part of a broken catwalk in place.
  • Pipe Maze: One of the gun's pieces is secured by a puzzle that's unlocked by this. You have to use a diving-bell-like contraption to rotate a series of valves so that the steam flow reaches the bottom. Oh, and it's all inside the volcano's caldera.
  • Robot Buddy: Martin had designed his Birdman as a friendly companion, but at some point the Dark Being corrupted it into becoming hostile, imprisoning its own creator until he starved to death.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: An alternate way to quit the game involves going back to your car, presumably driving back home.
  • Sequel Hook: From the sound of it, failing to capture the Dark Being results in an ending that would make for a sequel, if not just suggest replay value.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: The game's intro ends with a shadow approaching Amanda as she screams in shock. The game shows what that shadow belongs to, when you arrive at the lighthouse.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: With enough collected items, you have the option of creating a Time Bomb to destroy the Dark Being's lair, giving you an hour-long countdown to finish the game before it goes off.
  • Solar Punk: The parallel world's tech has shades of this, with one big example as a solar-powered teleporter in the roof of the Temple. A recording from Lyril describes that this is how the Priests were able to revitalize their world after their ancestors had turned it into a Polluted Wasteland. The Dark Being, however, is implied to be against this movement, evidenced by the sharp, unforgiving nature of his Steampunk machines.
  • Tap on the Head: If you follow the Dark Being through the portal he took Mandy through, he hits you with a cane-like object and dumps you on the beach. You also need said object to get into Martin's tower.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Two examples. The moth-like glider in the Island Fortress that's also on the box cover, and Martin's bat-plane which he apparently based on the former. The bat-plane can also be remotely signaled by playing an electronic pan pipe at its highest frequency.
  • Track Trouble: Near the end of the game, you have to fix a broken railway to reach the Dark Being's inner sanctum, and failing to stop short of the obstacle derails the train and results in a bad ending. Another point includes the Being throwing boulders onto the track, which requires dynamite to clear.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Unusually for a Sierra game, this can happen if you use Dr. Krick's portal, teleport back to Earth from the Temple, and repeat three times until the three glass bulbs needed to make Krick's portal work are exhausted.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: At the start of the game, it's possible to give Mandy a bottle of milk to temporarily stop her from crying.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You are able to zap Jeremiah with high amounts of electricity using the torture device, though they won't wake him up.
  • Video Game Set Piece: Defeating the Dark Being once and for all involves interrupting a cutscene at the right point, in which he starts up his portal device bit by bit.
  • Voiceover Letter: Dr. Krick's journal is narrated, likely because of his handwriting being somewhat hard to read. None of the other in-game journals have this feature, though.
  • Volcano Lair: The Dark Being's hideout is this, complete with a huge, cavernous mining facility that's polluting the surrounding ocean.
  • Warp Zone: Used by the priests' solar teleporter, which can take you to places you've been to before, and is the only way to return to the lighthouse. It works by scanning your mind for those locations, and even lets you choose a specific room to end up in.
  • Weapons That Suck: The cannon does this to the Dark Being when you take it down, sucking him into a "Crystal Bottle" inside the cannon that the player then takes.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: The whole reason the Dark Being has any interest in our world at all was because Dr. Krick had let it into his lab several times, out of curiosity. He regrets it later upon noticing that it started stealing his equipment over time, and he even decided to go after the Being himself when it created its own portal. Then again, Martin made the same mistake when he let the Being into his tower, which is how his Birdman ended up hostile.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The game all but begins with the Dark Being breaking in and snatching baby Amanda from her crib. And he put her to work in his mine, crushing chunks of ore.
    • After you meet him in Martin's Roost, the Birdman follows you to the Temple and immediately starts attacking Lyril, who is unable to fight back. You have to incapacitate it with the user of a conveniently placed electromagnet.