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Video Game / Ripper

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Ripper is a 1996 FMV Adventure Game developed by Take-Two Interactive.

The game is set in New York City in the Cyberpunk-ish future of 2040 and is centered around the investigation of a serial killer known as the "Ripper", due to him having a similar MO to the original Jack the Ripper. The player controls Jake Quinlan, a reporter investigating the killings who periodically receives messages from the Ripper himself. The case turns personal when Quinlan's girlfriend Catherine Powell is attacked by the Ripper for getting too close. Unexpectedly, she survives but falls into a deep coma. It is up to Quinlan to discover the Ripper's identity, even if it means butting heads with Cowboy Cop Detective Vincent Magnotta.

This game is mostly notable for the sheer number of Hollywood actors involved in this game. The list is a sight to behold: Christopher Walken, Scott Cohen, Burgess Meredith, Ossie Davis, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Jimmie Walker, David Patrick Kelly, and Paul Giamatti, and features licensed music from Blue Öyster Cult.


A Let's Play / MSTing of the game done by The Spoony Experiment can be found here, and Retsupurae's MST of it can be found here and here.

This game contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: This is what most people assume happened to the victims, even though it turns out they all exploded from the inside and an exploded person should not look the same as someone gutted like the catch of the day.
  • Actor Allusion: Possibly unintentional, but when Magnotta says Quinlan is on thin ice and "when it cracks, ain't nobody gonna hear you scream", it's hard not to think of this moment from The Dead Zone. He also mentions "Pennies from Heaven".
  • Adam Westing: Christopher Walken seems to be doing a Christopher Walken impression in this game.
  • Alien Sky: The sky is red for some reason.
  • Ambiguous Criminal History: Falconetti admits that he's a Retired Outlaw at one point, but it's never stated what he did that was illegal. He was jailed for 2 years over Josie Dorsett's murder, but let go later because Magnotta faked the evidence.
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  • Ambiguous Situation: It is never revealed who really killed Josie Dorsett during the original Ripper game. It's lightly implied it actually was Falconetti, and that Vince got him thrown in prison over it, but it is also implied it was a case of Accidental Murder.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Delivered by Jake when Catherine collapses in his arms.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Farley is always eating or smoking in the MetaCog morgue. He gets fired later in the game because of it.
  • Ax-Crazy: Falconetti and Magnotta.
  • Badass Boast: "The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they're movin', they're movin'. You get yourself caught in those wheels, Quinlan, you're in for a lotta pain."
  • Beneath Suspicion: It's hard to get more beneath suspicion than being in a coma.
  • Black Comedy: One of the most hilarious, if not twisted moments in the game stands out at the beginning of the second act, between Quinlan and Viv. Even Spoony and Retsupurae found it worth a laugh.
    Viv: Hey, how come you didn't come back to see me on my break?
    Quinlan: I'm here to see my girlfriend, Viv. She's in a coma, remember?
    Viv: What do you know, a guy who's faithful?
    Quinlan: Mm-hmm.
    Viv: Go on, run off and see your girlfriend. See if I care! Call me if she croaks.
    Quinlan: *turns around* I heard that!
  • Brain–Computer Interface: Catherine is hooked into a machine that outputs her memory in visual form, and the main goal of the game is to help her recall who attacked her so that the image clears up. Later on, you are also able to use the machine to hack into her brain and directly assist through it.
  • Brick Joke: At one point Jake can steal Magnotta's ID card and use it to rifle through his personnel files. If you talk to him enough later on, Magnotta opens an envelope with a new ID card inside, while complaining that the desk sergeant was too lazy to keep his stuff safe.
  • Brown Note: Apparently in her spare time, Dr. Burton records the mental "death resonances" of monkeys she's tortured to death in cyberspace, and sends them to Vigo Haman, who sells them on the black market, for who knows what purpose.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Farley is a Fat Slob whose autopsy methods are...questionable, at best. He also comes up with a viable lead on how the Ripper kills from afar.
  • Cigar Chomper: Magnotta. However, he never seems to smoke them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the game, Jake finds a book on Jack the Ripper in the Library, but it serves no purpose for most of the game. At the end, the Ripper tells Jake to return there and open it, which turns out to lead him to Whitechapel.
  • Cowboy Cop: Magnotta and how. Somewhat justified in that it's revealed that policemen have become more like bounty hunters.
    • He's cited as a 'typical New Breed cop,' but apparently one who has a bad reputation even among them.
  • Crapsack World: Cyberpunk future New York City is a dump. It has an oppressive red sky, (maybe due to pollution?) the cops are mostly useless or corrupt, cyberspace is also shown to be a dystopian hellhole filled with shady characters, and the people live in fear of a depraved Serial Killer who can butcher you seemingly without leaving any trace.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Falconetti's rail shooter segment has an industrial circus theme in the background. Bonus points that the Cyberspace WELL it's in is called "Circus Maximus".
  • Cyberpunk
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Falconetti, if innocent.
    • Possibly subverted if Catherine is the killer. The reason she killed the victims is because one of them had killed her mother; Falconetti was on her hit list and most of the evidence points to him (again, only if Catherine is the Ripper).
  • Dartboard of Hate: Magnotta hates Falconetti enough to have a photo of him used as a dart board. And all of the thrown darts landed at his head instead of the obvious printed bullseye in his torso.
  • Data Pad / Video Phone: Jake's WAC (Wireless Access Console), complete with Blue Swirly Thing in the corner.
  • Digital Avatar: Quinlan's is a simple-looking green putty CGI man that absorbs software into its rubbery head. If other people are around, though, he appears as his real self, except with a plastic-looking effect on top.
  • Digitized Hacker: Soap's friend, Maximum Cain. You meet him in the third act, where he gives you directions on where to find software to prevent being killed by the Ripper's murder weapon.
  • Dirty Cop: Magnotta. He's not explicitly on the take, per se, but he's about as unethical as you can possibly get, seems more interested in covering up the Ripper case than actually solving it, and is one of the possible suspects. It's also stated that he gets away with his more questionable actions by giving a piece of his bounties to the police chief.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the ending where Catherine is the killer. Let's see; she wasn't sure which Web Runner killed her mother, so she just decides to kill them all. She also kills a cyber architect who built the virtual Whitechapel for her, tries to kill said architect's twin brother, brutally murders a coroner who had just figured out her murder method, and even murders her own friend in the bad ending.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Lou Brandon, the desk sergeant has one on his desk, sometimes.
  • Dr. Jerk: Claire Burton
  • Everyone Went to School Together: The three prime suspects all used to be in the same hacker gang before growing up and going their separate ways.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Dirty Cop Vincent Magnotta versus the Ax-Crazy Joey Falconetti. And depending on the ending, one or both of them is also part of the hunt for the new Jack the Ripper.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation
    Spoony: In the future, you won't just enter in a text web address, you'll be forced to wander around the hellish virtual landscape of MORDOR!
  • Fake Difficulty: Some of the puzzles aren't that difficult, but other factors make them much harder to solve, such as limited controls or a lack of a frame of reference
  • Fat Slob: Farley
  • Foreshadowing: Quinlan finds Magnotta's personnel file at the police department at one point, which notes his decker abilities are of the highest skill. This is before Quinlan finds out about the Webrunners and the fact that Burton, Falconetti, and Magnotta were all a part of it together.
  • For the Evulz: In three of the four endings, you're left with no real idea of the killer's motivation, and Quinlan says he has no interest in trying to put it together.
  • Fortune Teller: Implemented by Hamilton Woffard in his virtual mock-up of Whitechapel, to actually make his weapon work. And to do that, you must solve the game's final puzzle - see Moon Logic Puzzle below.
  • Flipping the Bird: For some reason, Quinlan's avatar does this after he defeats a giant robot rat in cyberspace.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • A big part of the reason Falconetti turned out the way he has is that Magnotta forged evidence to get him convicted of Josie Dorsett's murder even though the death was most likely an unintentional case of Your Mind Makes It Real, just because Magnotta was in love with Burton, who was with Falconetti. He eventually walked after the evidence against him apparently fell apart. It's completely understandable that he is maladjusted and bitter, especially given the fact that his marriage fell apart, his reputation would have been destroyed, and that's not even getting into the whole We Used to Be Friends angle.
    • By contrast, Catherine, if she is the Ripper, has a far flimsier excuse. The reason behind the killings is one of the Webrunners accidentally murdered her mother and she doesn't know which one specifically, so she's just killing them all off one by one. The murders are all revenge killings by a depraved Ax-Crazy psychopath who doesn't care who they have to use or kill to get petty vengeance. It's also implied that, more than anything, Catherine is just a Sadist who simply gets off on the lurid murders she is dishing out.
  • Future Slang: There are a lot of computer-related terms, many of them taking a page from Neuromancer ("decking" referring to going on-line with your brain, "ICE" to anti-hacker security measures); "smoke" being some kind of drug or tobacco product. "Data angel" refers to the avatars of people in cyberspace, "Grepping" replaces "searching" note , and "Cyberspace WELL" is a term for a programmer's self-designed little pocket dimension of cyberspace.
  • Game-Over Man: Losing the final shoot-out sequence switches the game's perspective to Ripper. We don't see his/her face, only a monitor showing Quinlan's dead body.
  • Genius Cripple: Soap Beatty, played by Jimmie Walker
  • Genius Slob: Farley, awful slob, excellent coroner.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: The Virtual Library in cyberspace.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the more difficult puzzles
  • Hacked by a Pirate: Inverted. The well in cyberspace represented by a skull and crossbones is explicitly for antivirus software. Although the game itself has quite a number of skull motifs, for no explained reason.
  • Hacker Cave: Several locations look like this, being a Cyberpunk game, but Falconetti's safehouse is the most prominent. Even extends to cyberspace, with Maximum Cain's well being filled with tons of monitors all showing random computer data.
  • Hidden Depths: Vince Magnotta is an asshole and a Dirty Cop, but there is a scene where he displays a lot of awareness about the Ripper's psychology.
    Magnotta: You don't have a clue, do ya? You're not smart enough to be a suspect. This guy is a genius, he created a perfect weapon, it took him years to perfect it, now he's gonna savor it. It's not just the killing he's into, he's into the power, the intimacy of going inside while the heart still pumps. He's into feeling the skin, tight like a canvas, and the warm blood spraying, leaving masterpieces for us to wonder at. And he's gonna go on and on, creating masterpieces, unless I stop 'em. I'm the only one who can, you know, because I know what drives him to it. So don't you dare think you understand that killer, or me.
  • Hidden Villain: The Ripper's identity is hidden until the final act, and just appears to Quinlan as a distorted green face with an artificial voice.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Of all the possible characters who could be the Ripper, only Catherine has a motive- vengeance for her mother; Magnotta, Burton and Falconetti aren't given one. If any of them are the Ripper, Jake says that he "didn't feel up to pondering the motives of a madman/madwoman" when discussing them in his final narration.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: If the ending reveals Magnotta to be the Ripper all along, then he's been carrying out the official investigation into his own murders throughout the entire game.
  • It Only Works Once: Hamilton's energy shuriken can only be used once, because (being basically the Whitechapel virtual environment's self-destruct function with a twist) once it makes contact with its target, it deletes itself, the target (killing the human) and eventually everything around it.
  • It's a Small Net After All: As Spoony highlights, the Internet in this game seems to consist only of a dozen websites.
  • Jack the Ripoff
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Falconetti can come across this way in his best moments. He is willing to help Quinlan swift through Catherine's subconscious after Quinlan sufficiently impresses him with his own decking capabilities, and he does this without asking for anything in return even though he knows Claire isn't going to be thrilled to see him. (Not that he seems to care much on that score) Unless of course he is the Ripper...
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Whenever Jake hacks into Catherine's brain. Played straighter when Falconetti first helps Jake get in, as Jake has to shoot away "psychological ICE" in order to reach her.
  • Karma Houdini: It's implied that in what's thought to be the true ending, Magnotta, Falconetti, and Burton all get away with their various misdeeds
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Joey Falconetti makes his debut scene doing this to interrogate Quinlan in cyberspace.
  • Large Ham: Magnotta. Even by Christopher Walken standards.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Quinlan's opening monologue for Act II almost perfectly sums up the game in one sentence.
    I was beginning to think I was in a bad mystery novel where everyone did it.
  • Love Triangle: Between Falconetti, Burton and Magnotta.
  • Mad Doctor / Mad Scientist: Burton
  • May Contain Evil: Vigo Haman calls Quinlan out for once exposing an associate of his in the paper, a butcher named Schultz who smuggled drugs by packing them into the sausages he sold. At the end of the conversation, when Quinlan asked what happened to Schultz, Vigo reminds him to avoid the Cafe DuChamp's hot dogs.
  • Mega-Corp: Pan-Financial, who fund Dr. Burton's shady research, and, according to her, own the entire police force. This explains the Cowboy Cop entry shown above.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Magnotta simply can't stand still when he's talken. Spoony makes fun of this.
    Quinlan: "What's happened to you?" (Referring to Magnotta's bandaged arm)
    Spoony: (Imitating Walken) "Gesturing too much."
  • Missing Steps Plan: Dr. Burton's 'death resonance' business comes across as this.
    Step 1: Collect monkey fear
    Step 2: ????
    Step 3: Profit
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Jake gets arrested by Magnotta at the start of Act 3, believed to be the killer because he was always the last person to see the Ripper's victim. He only gets released because Magnotta couldn't find any evidence to back it up.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The final puzzle of the game has you input a sequence of Tarot cards to receive the anti-Ripper weapon with no apparent clue to the correct sequence. However, during the puzzle "Don't Fear The Reaper" starts playing. You're inclined to ignore it since it's the game's theme song and this is the endgame...until you realize that the key to the sequence is the song's lyrics ("Seasons don't fear the Reaper/Nor do the wind, the Sun and the Rain..."). While it's simple in retrospect, you're likely to get stuck since you're not expecting the sudden use of Painting the Medium.
    • Unless you pay close attention to the weird sound each card makes.
  • Multiple Endings: Curiously enough, the identity of the Ripper is actually randomized at some point of the game, with some elements changing accordingly. Disappointingly however, the endings are mostly the same regardless of the culprit. It can be inferred that only one of them is the "true" ending, due to the way it's differently handled than the rest (and that that one person was the only one with a specific grudge against all the victims) but, again, unlocking that ending is randomized. It's likely the others were just thrown in at the last moment.
  • Nervous Wreck: Farley's replacement Bob Epples is one twitchy dude.
  • Never Bareheaded: Magnotta. Even when he's cutting his own forehead. The only time he is seen without his hat is during a brief recording in cyberspace.
  • Nice Hat: Magnotta can rock a fedora like no other.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Falconetti
  • Noodle Incident: One of the WebRunners tells Quinlan that Falconetti once decked with another gang called Error 33, in which he supposedly took out the credit record of everyone on the East Coast. Nowhere else in the game does this come up.
  • No New Fashions in the Future
  • Not-So-Badass Longcoat: Quinlan, whose only journalistic credit seems to be printing the Ripper's letters. Even his comatose assistant is a much better investigator than him.
    • To be fair, there can be a very good reason why Catherine knows more about the case than Jake- if she is the Ripper herself.
  • Not Disabled In VR: Soap Beatty mentions that when decked into Cyberspace, his crippled legs aren't crippled anymore.
    Soap: In cyberspace, I can walk! I can run! I can fuckin' DANCE, baby!
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The majority of the puzzles that make up the "hacking" minigames are either puzzles, or, bizarrely, first-person rail shooter segments.
  • Oral Fixation: Walken's character is chomping on a cigar in almost every scene he's in. Literally. Spoony explicitly points out "oral fixation" and adds a "NOM!" every time Walken chomps away at the cigar.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: Magnotta does this if Quinlan proves his picture of Falconetti as the Ripper is fake.
  • Police Brutality: Detective Vincent Magnotta has been known to beat confessions out of people.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Falconetti does this in his first scene, while throwing knives at a giant wheel with Jake Quinlan strapped to it.
    Falconetti: Who! *throws knife* Da fuck! *throws another knife* SENT! YOU?! *throws yet another knife*
    Quinlan: (screaming) AH SHIT!
  • Rabid Cop: Magnotta
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. The song's lyrics are the key to the final puzzle.
  • Recorded Spliced Conversation: Jake has to record Dr. Burton's voice to open a voice-locked door in the Metacog's basement. Made slightly more difficult as Jake has to download an audio editor from cyberspace first.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: Falconetti's skillz are highly sought after, even though he is batshit crazy.
  • Retired Monster: Falconetti
  • Sassy Secretary: Viv, the MetaCog hospital's receptionist. The first thing she even says to Jake is, "Can I help you off or something?"
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Played straight in the good endings, after Jake logs out of cyberspace just before the virtual Whitechapel is deleted.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Many, but one of the worst must be the set up in Catherine's apartment which involves crystals that must be put in a certain order in a grid that fires a laser at a book. You're only given a very vague idea of where to put crystals on a very specific grid to create a constellation, and the payoff is ultimately something Catherine could have just left you in a note: her password. Just to make it worse, the puzzle centers around the constellations of the horoscope, and the password is Horoscope, meaning that solving the puzzle means you have to already figure out that Catherine was interested in horoscopes, despite that information alone being enough to make a reasonable guess at the password.
    • Another infamously terrifying puzzle, one whose mere screenshot is used as a reference to how tough the puzzles in an adventure game could be, is the circuit board rewiring puzzle. It looks about as complex as learning how to solder chips in yourself without getting anything wrong would be in real life; fortunately, abstracting out some of the codes and what-not can make it easier.
    • One of the oddest ones is digitally assembling a broken mug from a scan. The puzzle isn't hard other than the detection of when it's solved being really touchy, but the whole point is to read what was written on the side facing away from you when you solve it. This was one word spread over two pieces; it could have been solved instantly in-universe by just looking at it without the forced perspective.
  • Stealth Pun: A cripple is played by Jimmie Walker.
  • Theme Music Powerup: Don't Fear the Reaper plays during the final puzzle. Select words from the lyrics tell you how to solve it.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Magnotta has this. Since he's also both a Rabid and Dirty Cop, it's arguable that he's parodying this trope.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The several rail shooter sections. Yeah, in an adventure game.
    • And Spoony learns the hard way that they too fall under Guide Dang It!; in one of them, it's not enough to shoot the pop-up targets once, but to shoot them as many times as possible in order to get the qualifying score, even though the game fails to tell you that little detail.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Magnotta tells Quinlan he doesn’t care if he and his girlfriend “played tiddly winks in your birthday suits.”
  • Verbal Salt in the Wound: Early in Act 3, reporter Quinlan is brought in for interrogation, giving Magnotta]] an opportunity to assault him at length in an attempt to get information out of him, finishing up by just slugging him in the face. When they meet again, Magnotta sneers at Quinlan for not publishing the incident in the Herald and mockingly asks, "how's your face, asshole?"
  • Virtual Ghost: Hamilton Woffard's AI self, to the point that it even looks like a Force ghost.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Magnotta gets away with beating up Quinlan while interrogating him by slicing his forehead with a huge knife so he can claim self defense if Quinlan reports this. I mean, would anyone believe the truth?
    • Also qualifies as an inverse of the Police Brutality Gambit.
    • And, as Spoony points out, it wouldn't have worked anyway.
    Magnotta: Self defense, man. I mean, why'd you hit me, Quinlan? What are you, stupid? Hitting a cop?!
    Spoony: With a knife, while handcuffed?
  • Your Mind Makes It Real:
    • Forget hacking into the human mind to give you an aneurysm or whatever: the Ripper can hack your brain in such a way your body's internal pressure builds until you explode from the inside.
    • It is heavily implied this is why Josie Dorsett died in the original Ripper game, but the dynamics of it are never explored.