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Video Game / Safe Cracker

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In a safe, no one can hear you scream...
Safecracker is the title of two point and click puzzle games. The first was released in 1997 for PC and Macintosh, published by Dreamcatcher Entertainment and developed by Swedish software developers DayDream Software, who later developed a harder, but similar game, Traitors Gate.

A Spiritual Successor was released under the same name in 2006 by The Adventure Company and Kheops Studio, with the tagline, "The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure". Unlike the first game, it was also released for Nintendo DS and Wii.

In the first game, you are assigned by Jerry Crabb, the eccentric President and CEO of renowned safe manufacturing firm, Crabb & Sons, to break into their corporate headquarters after hours, crack every safe in the place, and use the items retrieved from those safes to unlock the final, most complicated safe which contains your job contract.

The second puts you in the shoes of an expert safecracker, hired to find the will of Duncan W. Adams, a recently deceased oil conglomerate CEO who had a serious passion for designing safes just as strange as Crabb & Sons'.

Not to be confused with the pinball game of the same name.

Both games contain examples of:

  • Already Undone for You: Both Duncan W. Adams and Jerry Crabb had placed all the materials needed to solve their safes prior to your arrival.
  • Artistic License – Chess: The original game has a book about cheating in chess. The book depicts an example of "minimal and discrete" cheating where one player has fourteen queens.
  • Big Fancy House: Both games take place in mansions, though the former is used more as an office building.
  • Concealing Canvas:
    • Played straight in the first game where a hidden door in a hallway of portraits hides a spiral staircase connecting the second floor to the basement, though that is concealed by a fireplace passage, which in turn is unlocked by a clockwork motor.
    • Crabb & Sons also discuss this trope in their company catalogue: "No longer is it the case of looking behind the right painting. Now the crack thief will be down on his hands and knees, touching and prodding at everything he sees in hopes of getting lucky."
    • Played with in the second game, where the painting covering a compartment is indeed a safe, but it and several other paintings are connected by wires that have to be rearranged in the right order before the one with the safe will open.
  • Enter Solution Here: Naturally, these are games about safes. The first game's final 3 safes make use of codes you've pieced together from the previous safes.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The first game gives no defining characteristics whatsoever, although falling down the one-way chute to the basement does let out a very male-sounding grunt on impact. The second game's character does speak, with a slight English accent, but again has no identity of his own.
  • Fetch Quest: Unlocking one safe reveals items you'll need for another, and so on up until the last one. Be it clues on paper, coins, keys, or mechanical components.
  • 15 Puzzle
    • In the first game, one of the first safes encountered plays this straight, sitting in the lobby. It's not written down anywhere, in-game or not, but the strategy guide contains a cheat to bypass this, by pressing the "Alt" key while clicking on the handle.
    • A variation in the second has no open space, but instead allows sets of four adjacent pieces to be rotated around their point of intersection. Also, the picture you need to reconstruct is shown only on the game's menu page
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Both games start with relatively simple and obvious safes, and then escalate towards harder, more subtle ones further on. The first game implies that Jerry Crabb set your mission up this way intentionally, though it's less clear if Mr. Adams did the same.
  • Goodies in the Toilets:
    • A hand dryer in one of the Crabb house's restrooms conceals a safe behind it, with a schematic elsewhere that explains how it works.
    • In the second game, the code to the final safe has to be pieced together from plaques mounted on the doors to several bathrooms.
  • Recurring Riff
    • The Sales & Export, Technical Design, and Security offices in the first game share the same melody in different remixes.
    • The music in the second game's Yellow Bedroom and Library call back to the Winter Garden theme near the beginning.

The 1997 game contains examples of:

  • 12 Coins Puzzle: A key-weighing machine in the basement, with an instruction manual on how to use it. It holds 8 keys that have to be weighed in two moves to show where the heavier key is. Guessing wrong or making more than two moves randomizes where the heavier key is.
  • All There in the Manual: The reason why you're breaking into a, office building, is explained by a comic strip in the game's manual. You get to meet some of the employees of Crabb & Sons one day, and the eccentric CEO, Jerry Crabb, gives you your mission objective before the game begins.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Cracking the final T-1001 safe rewards you with your job contract for the position of Design and Development Chief, complete with a projected message that says, "Crabb and Sons congratulates a true SAFECRACKER." And you also get a video tape to watch after that. (See Creator Cameo entry below)
  • Bait-and-Switch: The game and its manual lead you to believe that the F-9-12 safe in Jerry Crabb's office is the ultimate goal, especially with the fact that it houses an entire corner of the room. But when you finally get the thing open, instead of your job contract, there's only a chess piece inside. This is for a nearby chessboard that unlocks access to a hidden room on the first floor, and your job contract is actually in an even bigger safe down there.
  • Bookcase Passage: In the house's library, natch. The regular door to Crabb's office is always locked, and the key for it is too damaged to work. What do you do instead? Use the hand scanner on the public entrance? No, your hand won't suffice. Instead, there's a tiny switch hidden behind a metal panel, disguised as a suspiciously neat row of books, that raises the whole shelf enough to reveal half of another door.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Trent Rampant seem to have a habit of authoring his books in this manner. One book called "The Wonderful, Wonderful World of Facts, Things, Bits, Pieces, and Stuff" shifts from an infamous cocktail that makes the drinker puke for up to thirty hours, to a biography about Marquis De Laffayette, to the Braille alphabet. His poetry book, "Really Smutty Places I Have Been", says it all.
  • Computer Voice: The house's keypads, voice safe and T-1001 have a speaking component, voiced by "Victoria" from Macintosh's PlainTalk software.
    T-1001: (when unlocked) It seems you are lucky...Punk.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Crabb & Sons appears to be prepared for any corporate situation, to the point where they have a medical bay, music room, and even an office for their own psychologist.
  • Creator Cameo: Some of the DayDream employees appear in paintings around the house, and at the end of the game, you can watch a home movie filmed by one of the developers, who thanks you for finishing the game, and has the other team members greet you in their studio.
  • Disconnected Side Area: One room on the first floor of the house is completely isolated from the rest, with the only way in being from a hidden staircase in Jerry Crabb's office above it.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: There's a long ornate strand of cloth hanging from the library ceiling that says "PULL", and a small sign next to it saying "please do not pull". Your reward for ignoring that sign is an abrupt slide to the basement, with a bump to your head for good measure. At least someone had the courtesy to put a welcome mat at the end of the chute.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: The house's med bay has a laid back funk tune playing, even listed as "ELEV" in the game files, though averted in the actual elevator.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: Most of the computers in the Crabb House are Macintoshes, and the few you can interact with show System 7.5 desktops.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Your HUD contains a real-time clock, starting at 7:30 PM, and you are both timed on the 12 hours needed to complete your mission, and in the beginning, you have to get into the house in less than 10 minutes, or else a police patrol due to pass by will arrest you for trespassing.
  • Five-Aces Cheater: The book on cheating in chess has an example of "minimal and discrete" cheating where there are 15 queens on the board.
  • Flushing-Edge Interactivity: The player can click on toilets and sinks inside the Crabb House, each with an appropriate sound effect. A toilet roll and soap bar can also be examined.
  • Game Within a Game:
  • Instrumental Hip Hop: The game's music was composed by then-Swedish rap group Rob ' N ' Raz. Each room has its own theme, and for short loops, most of them fit surprisingly well.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: One fragment of the code to the elevator is permanently locked inside a medicine cabinet, but the upshot means that you can simply place the other parts in front of it from your inventory to read the whole thing. Or you can just brute-force the code if you only have 3 pieces.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In one of the offices, you're able to use a computer with a modeling program on it, where you can play around with a model of a computer inside it.
  • Level-Map Display: One of the company's binders has a copy of the building's blueprints which you can read, but not take with you. It also reveals the locations of several secret passages.
  • Missing Secret: There are a number of hotspots in the building that can be clicked on, but nothing ever happens. Most of them range from locked file cabinets to inaccessible computers.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: The main staircase has a loud, disjointed organ piece playing, accompanied by a Heartbeat Soundtrack.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The voice safe, mentioned in the company catalog, is by default usually unlocked by the owner saying their name. Naturally, T.J. Petherbridge has a dictaphone in his desk with a tape mentioning his name on it.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Make sure that you take everything from whatever safe you unlocked, and removed any keys you put in if they weren't yet used, because you will not get a second chance.
  • Product Placement: Cans of Ovaltine can be found in some spots.
  • Secret Room: The game has a few of these. Then again, the blueprints for the house are in the foyer, so an observant player can discover them quickly. Getting inside is the real puzzle.
  • Secret Snack Stash: Subverted. A cannon safe on the second floor contains a thermos, crackers, and soft cheese, though none are interactive.
  • Shout-Out: The Crabb house has a huge copy of Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus this in their stairwell, which is also a clue to one of their safes.
  • Stock Puzzle: One safe involves a very simple game of poker, in which you have to get a better hand than the computer to win.
  • Porn Stash: A rather strange one at that. A white briefcase hidden in the security guard's office has a magazine called "Playsafe: Entertainment for Security Men", including "Sex and the Single Safe or Tickle My Combination" among other articles.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: The music room's piano has a safe in it that's unlocked by playing the first 14 notes of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
  • Significant Anagram: A jukebox in one of the offices has to be unlocked by linking songs shown on it to their artists. A trunk in the basement gives you a cheat sheet, but the names on the jukebox itself have to be unscrambled to find out which one links to what song. "Stab the eel", for instance, is actually "The Beatles".
  • Spinventory: Showing off Quicktime VR's capabilities of the time, your HUD can show a closeup view of both items in your inventory and interactive ones in the background, and they can be rotated at will while selected.
  • Useless Item: Not a lot, but they do take up a chunk of inventory space. Many of them are edible items, but only the apple and banana can be actually consumed - and you still carry around their remnants if you do eat them. There's also a key to Jerry Crabb's office that's broken along the shaft, and another, unmarked key that serves no purpose, although a statue in that office holds a large replica of it, for some reason.
  • Villainous Harlequin: One of the hardest safes in the game involves a creepy wooden jester bust. First up, it sometimes laughs, even in the room's background music. Then when you turn it on, its face suddenly goes crazy, and the goal is to fiddle with its buttons to set it back to normal. Finally, when you do so, a drum roll plays and the bust's face opens up, revealing the safe compartment behind it.

The 2006 successor contains examples of:

  • Broken Bridge: Some of the safes require components or parts from other ones before you can solve them. A few combination locks even need keycards to be usable.
  • Cartography Sidequest: A floor plan of the house is filled in as you enter each room, complete with a label for said rooms after you enter them once. It also shows your position on the map.
  • Cut the Juice: One safe has a keypad for which you are given no code, and you can see that it's plugged into a power strip. Guess what the solution is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Occasionally your character makes snide comments on the absurdity of the safes you'll find around the house, given his implied experience with opening more mundane types of locks.
    Main Character: Eh, it's certainly a change from my usual safecracking jobs.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Duncan W. Adams never uses his middle name, Walter, except as a password for a secret room and on his will.
  • Empty Room Psych: A heavy-looking metal door turns out to hide nothing more than the laundry room, which your character at first laughs off as one of Mr. Adams' practical jokes. Subverted in that this room contains a trapdoor to the house's attic.
  • Laser Hallway: One of the house's bedrooms is protected by a grid of lasers, for whatever reason.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle:
    • After you've solved a puzzle that generates a laser beam, you have to flip two ceiling-mounted mirrors to bounce the beam to a sensor attached to a globe, which opens it.
    • Another safe has a laser that needs to be tuned to a specific frequency and color to open it.
  • Mundane Utility: A large mechanical apparatus in the house's museum, deployed bit by bit via a trio of puzzles around it. And its only function when it finally reaches the to open a door upstairs.
  • Multiple Endings: When you finally get the will, your last puzzle is to decide which member of the family best deserves Mr. Adams' fortune.
  • Only in It for the Money: Elizabeth, your client, is a greedy descendant, whom you find later isn't to be trusted.
  • Password Slot Machine:
    • Repairing a keypad's circuit board somehow automatically enters the correct code after the display flickers on and off while cycling different numbers.
    • There's a broken lock that makes each button cycle through certain numbers, and the key to entering the right code - which is taped to the safe - lies in pushing certain buttons enough times until those numbers exactly appear in sequence to form the code.
  • Scenery Porn: The design of Adams' mansion is incredibly detailed, down to the pictures on the walls, high-class furnishings, and the lavishly colored bedrooms.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Duncan W. Adams' eccentricity shows around the house, to the point that even a light switch for the basement and the controls for the fountain are puzzles. He also leaves sticky notes inside some of the safes, taunting you on how far you've come.
    Note from Duncan W. Adams: Not bad at all, but the worst is yet to come!
  • Sounding It Out: Your character will read various documents aloud, and usually contemplate something related to a puzzle you're on, as a subtle form of hints.
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle
    • Klotski: One of the last puzzles in the game, using a magnet to move blocks around under a pane of glass. One of them contains a key that has to be slid out from behind the glass.
    • 3 + 5 = 4: The method to turn on the fountain in the mansion's indoor garden.
    • Magic Square Puzzle: Its 2006 spiritual successor includes a 3×3 magic square grid in a trio of puzzles built into an elaborate mechanical contraption, which extends with each puzzle solved until it reaches the ceiling of the museum.
    • Mastermind: One of the more bizarre safes involves a device that analyzes the button tones from a nearby phone, and flashes lights based on which ones are correct.
    • Queens Puzzle: The N=6 version appears on one of the safes in the attic. Slightly easier than most examples because every square follows a pattern, as your character is quick to point out.