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Video Game / Secret Files

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Secret Files is a series of Adventure Games developed by Fusionsphere Systems and published by Deep Silver, the video game department of the Koch Media group based in Germany. There are three games in the series.

The first game, Secret Files: Tunguska (named after the explosion caused in 1908 in Siberia) starts on March 27, 2006, with Nina Kalkenkov, an average Russian woman, visiting her father, Vladimir, at his office in a Berlin museum only to find him missing and his office a wreck. The police being singularly unhelpful, she tackles the problem herself, aided by one of her father's co-workers, and later boyfriend, Max Gruber. The two uncover an investigation he undertook to Tunguska in the 1950's, as well as a world domination scheme that's also interested in the same investigation.

The second game, Puritas Cortis, taking place shortly after the first, begins with several members of the Catholic church, a vicar and then a bishop, being attacked and murdered over a strange parchment found while the vicar's church was undergoing renovation, referring to a prophet named Zandona, known for his gloom-and-doom prophecies. Meanwhile, Nina and Max have split up. Nina is taking a cruise to relax, while Max is headed to Indonesia to visit a former classmate, Sam Peters, at her dig site where she's uncovered an ancient temple. Both of them end up involved in thwarting an Ancient Conspiracy and their plan to create natural disasters to manipulate Zandona's prophecies.

The third game is simply titled Secret Files 3. Nina and Max have gotten back together, and are planning to be married. However, before this happens, Max is taken by the police under charges of suspected terrorism. As it turns out, these men are not the actual police, and Nina finds herself embroiled in a plot to save him, and the world, yet again.

The game's approach resolves around solving puzzles and combining items to achieve the desired results. One may have a puzzle, like a very large, multi-colored symbol one must determine the smaller symbols that make it up, and can tell by changing the color of a lamp by tinting it with other inventory objects, as well as different puzzles and riddles to solve.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Nina and Max are built of this trope.
  • After the End: Played with in the third game, as a dream that CERN forces Nina to experience to get her to know more about the black-cloaked Guardians.
  • The Alcoholic: Foley the fisherman. Max comments that all he'd need to do is breathe over the water, and the fish would get so drunk they'd be easily caught. In the third game, Max comments that he drinks ten beers whenever he goes out to eat. And Nina comments that she wishes she had a glass of booze while inside of a flaming church.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Nina and Max switch perspectives in both games, and sometimes, you can switch between them. In the second game, there are four characters: Nina, Max, Sam, and Bishop Chester Parrey. Bishop Parrey dies once his chapter is over, sort of an introduction to how to play the game, and Sam is only usable to switch with Max in his first two chapters. The third game is almost always Nina, but a few other characters will be controlled, namely Menis-Ra, Max, Emre, and Jane.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Max is one, Sam is a rare female version of one, and Vladimir used to be one, or at least, an Adventure Geologist.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Nurse Sabrina's plan to get elected as mayor is to appeal to this. It works.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Nina lusts after a few guys, but the real offender is Romanova, the female Russian guard at the train station. She has pictures of many different handsome men in her locker, and she's only allowed to take her cigarette breaks with Yushin, because she'll flirt shamelessly with anyone else.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Puritas Cordis. The Guardians appear to be this, although it's actually positive, because they are protecting humanity from killing themselves.
  • Badassin A Nice Suit: Radenkov and Fetisov, two Russian FSB soldiers, combining this with Sinister Shades. In the epilogue, the two open a clothing shop selling these types of suits.
  • Badass in Distress: In all three games, Nina and Max end up kidnapped at some point. Bonus points for Max, who is kidnapped almost all of the time.
  • Batman Gambit: While Nina tends to solve her problems with MacGyvering, Max tends to rely on these, playing on the fears of the people he outwits.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Max pulls these off in the first two games. Once with a crane hook, and another with a helicopter. It's the CERN assistant who does this in the third game.
  • Black Cloak: Much of the mystery of the first game revolves around mysterious figures in ominous black cloaks who kidnapped Nina's father so Nina is naturally wary of them. It turns out they did this to protect him and stop the true villain's plans. Although their sect remains a mystery with morally ambiguous motives.
    • Then the second game has the cult Puritas Cordis wearing this who are actually a straight villainous example.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Oskar, the ship captain's son, in the second game. He plays the bongoes just to be annoying. And plays a Fetch Quest with Nina because he's bored.
  • Busman's Holiday: Nina planned to take a vacation to get over her breakup with Max. She ends up in the middle of an Ancient Conspiracy.
  • Butt-Monkey: The guard in the Siberian hospital, Spivak. In the first two games, Max makes a fool of him.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Rossi, the Italian outside the metro station in Paris.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The stove door Max gets when he's kidnapped by the cult. Pat Shelton, angry that Nina won't tell him the information he wants (that Nina doesn't have) angrily shoots Max in the chest and leaves him in a shallow grave. The bullet is stopped by the door.
  • Chekhov's Volcano: At Sam's dig site in Indonesia. She even says it is dormant and will never erupt. Of course, Puritas Cortis drops a nuclear bomb in it to make it happen.
  • Church Militant: Puritas Cortis, Pat Shelton, and posthumously, Zandona.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Manimisso Gartusso.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Pat Shelton believes this, and believes that there is no way Nina and Max, who know each other, simply stumbled onto his plans in two different places halfway around the world in the second game. Truth is, he's wrong, it was a complete accident.
  • Covers Always Lie: The Puritas Cortis cover features four prominent characters: Nina, Max, David, and Sam. Sam disappears after Max's first chapter and is never heard from again for the rest of the game.
  • Cult: There is a cult in all of the games, both have the hooded robes standard of cults. In the first game, they are good guys, who keep Vladimir and Max safe. In the second, it's your standard evil cult. The third game, the same cult from the first game, are good guys again.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Max and especially Nina are. For the supporting cast, there is Fleming, the tour guide when Nina turns in her model of the Atomium, as well as O'Brien, the bartender Max meets in Ireland, as well as Menis-Ra.
  • Did Not Die That Way: it is implied that the death of Nina's mother was the result of her father's research, while Nina thought she had died in a car accident.
  • Disabled Snarker: The assistant at CERN.
  • Disney Death: Near the end of the sequel, Max is presumably gunned down execution style, but is saved by a small steel door he hid underneath his shirt.
  • Distant Prologue: The third game begins with a prologue set in ancient Egypt.
  • The Determinator: Nina treks halfway across the world (Germany, Russia, Cuba, and then China then Antartica, but that's because she was kidnapped), and endures craploads of abuse just to find her father.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Nina has vivid dreams of the Guardians, and sees lots of fire and ruin. They are actually warnings for Nina to prevent.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Nina and Max each find at least one situation in which they have to dress up as enemy guards to sneak past them and complete their mission.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: How the Big Bad typically meets his end. The first game uses a Giant Wall of Watery Doom in Antartica, so it puts the bad guys on ice, the second has a self destruct sequence and the third has them get sucked into a black hole.
  • Evil Is Hammy: The villain of the second game is certainly a standout. Especially when he goes all out monologuing about his evil plan to lead humankind to a new golden age or his last words yelling how no one can escape their destiny.
  • Fiery Redhead: Nina.
  • First-Person Smartass: When you control a character, you hear their thoughts as well. And both Nina and Max are huge smartasses.
  • Fission Mailed / Non-Standard Game Over: Just before the final confrontation in the sequel with Pat Shelton, head of Puritas Cordis, as Nina sneaks up on him at the top of his command tower, if the player does anything else than throw a bowl of soup at him, Pat will then shoot and kill Nina. He then belittles her for being so foolish up to this point. We then get a Game Over screen and for a moment we are tricked into thinking the games up to this point would never have such a thing...but then the whole thing is actually an Imagine Spot and the whole scene gets rewinded, likely due to adventure games having a rule against killing the player character since the complaints of the old Sierra games. Nevertheless, this is still quite a shocking roundabout twist on that rule.
  • French Jerk: Nicole Charlesroi. Puritas Cortis has their base set in a chateau in France, but it's unclear if any of them are actually French.
  • The Ghost: Vladimir Kalenkov, while especially important to the first game, is only ever seen in the credits in any of the games.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The tidal wave on the cruise ship.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Nina likes her vodka, especially in the first game.
  • Heroic B So D: Nina goes through a big one near the end of the second game, when she believes herself responsible for the deaths of both David and Max, although Max ends up surviving.
  • Improvised Zipline: Nina does it with a wire hanger in Alcatraz.
  • Indy Ploy: Given that Nina and Max stumble onto their plans by complete accident, they manage to come up with things on the fly pretty easily.
  • Info Dump: The first game did this a lot, the second game made it easier.
  • Insufferable Genius: Cassandra. She's an unparalleled hacker, and she has constructed battle robots, but she's also a real bitch.
  • Kick the Dog: The guard watching Sam after she is kidnapped. When she asks for fruit, he cruelly eats one of them. You cause him to trip out by hiding a psychotropic berry in one.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: An Adventure Game, so par the course.
  • Large Ham: Practically everyone on the cruise ship, but the bartender especially qualifies. After all, Evil Is Hammy. In the third game, Menis-Ra is especially over the top.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Nina is quite aware she's in a video game, and laments after she ruins a guy's car, that if she doesn't help him feel better, she'll only be cast as villains in the future.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Nina only changes her clothes twice in the first game, Max never changes them at all. He goes all the way from Germany to Ireland and doesn't change them. At least in the second and third games, he gets kidnapped and has an excuse not to change them. In the second game, Nina and David change their clothes after escaping the ship, and then are kidnapped or killed. She only changes her clothes once in the third game, and treks across the world.
  • Love at First Sight: Nina and Max. How else could you explain his willingness to bust her out of a Russian hospital within one day of meeting her.
  • MacGyvering: The primary way the game, when controlling Nina, solves puzzles. Nina expertly builds a boat motor out of an alternator, a damaged motorcycle, and some life vests, to name an example. She lampshades this in the third game.
  • Made of Iron: Max survives a tent exploding right next to him and being shot, although that was due to the stove door he hid in his chest pocket as a weapon.
  • Meganekko: Cassandra
  • The Mole: Oleg and Sergei in the first game.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Nicole Charlesroi. The things she does to her subjects are inhuman.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • Near the end of the sequel, Nina is faced with three different choices when Puritas Cordis threatens to kill Max if she doesn't tell more about her new allies. Whichever one you choose, Puritas Cordis shoots and presumably kills Max anyway.
    • The two major decisions you make throughout the course of the third game have no immediate impact on the story whatsoever. Regardless of whether or not you choose to save Cassandra, you'll always end up getting caught and trapped in a shipping container aboard a freight carrier off the port of Cadiz. And towards the end of the game, when Dr. Jane Cunningham forces you to disable a force field by poisoning Max so that she can retrieve deterrium for a dangerous experiment, you can either choose to deactivate the force field so that Dr. Cunningham will give an antidote to you to save Max, or to leave it on and let Max die. No matter what you choose, Dr. Cunningham will get that force field offline one way or another and then accidentally leave her antidote for you to give to Max and save him, which you must do to continue the story.
  • Mouthful of Pi: Cassandra calculates pi out several million places, using a network of computers and a formula the philosopher Archimedes developed.
  • Multiple Endings: There are four total possible endings in the third game, depending on what you decided for each of two major choices throughout the story.
  • National Stereotypes: Nina and Feng Li discuss this on the cruise ship in the second game. She questions why he doesn't mispronounce his R's. He turns that he always thoughts Russians did nothing but drink vodka. They have a laugh.
  • Only in It for the Money: Menis-Re subverts this doubly in the third game. He is only interested in the money and doesn't care that the Guardians want him to torch Archimedes's scroll. But just before he does so, he is curious, and takes a peek. When he doesn't understand it, he shrugs and burns them anyway.
  • Paparazzi: Mr. Li in the second game.
  • Perma-Stubble: Max, especially in the second game, as well as David Korell.
  • Pocket Protector: How Max escapes being executed by Puritas Cordis in the sequel.
  • Police Are Useless: After Nina's father went missing and his office was clearly broken into, Nina tried to call the police but they won't help unless he had any mental illnesses. However, a detective did arrive later but he didn't end up doing much other than pulling the gun on the wrong person and getting attacked before he could tell the main characters anything.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: It's quite clear that most of the "bad guys" are actually fairly decent people.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Max took a needlework course in college and is accomplished at sewing.
  • Red Shirt: Mocked at the end of the second game with all the people who died in it wearing red Starfleet uniforms. David is more of a Mauve Shirt though, and the bad guys, the bartender and Shelton, don't qualify.
  • Running Gag: Detective Kanski losing his memory.
  • Sacrificial Lion: David in game 2.
  • Sadistic Choice: Nina is offered one by Pat Shelton: Tell him about the Church Intelligence Services conspiracy or he kills Max. Nina, having stumbled onto the plan, knows nothing. Cue Jay shooting Max. Jane Cunningham offers Nina another one in the third game Get her a radioactive element called deterrium or Max dies.
  • Shout-Out: Makes reference to the names Biggs Darklighter and Wedge Antilles, calling them "Red 2" and "Red 3" in the credits.
  • Shown Their Work: The first game references the Tsunguska catastrophe, a legitimate mystery that happened in 1908. The third game references the siege of Alexandria in 47 BC, when Caesar and Cleopatra were barricaded in the palace by Achillas's army.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Mocked by Nina in internal monologue in the first two games when the player has her clean something.
  • Straight Gay: Comrade Yushin in the first game. Strong, manly, loves to smoke. He didn't respond to Nina's flirting, but one could argue he was just dense until Romanova comments that she enjoys Yushin's company, as they both agree men make better lovers.
  • Super Window Jump: Defied, in the second game. If you have Bishop Chester Parrey examine the window in the second room, he dismisses it as an escape route, as it's too high to jump.
  • Supreme Chef: Nina cooks in the first two games, and her food is raved about. Of course, the first one was laxative jam to get a guy out of the room...
  • Trademark Favorite Food: For Spivak, cheese soup.
  • Unexplained Recovery: By the time you've finished playing the sequel, you'll make the stunning discovery that Detective Kanski, clearly murdered in the epilogue of the first game, is somehow still alive.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: For a series that tries to make sure you never get into an unwinnable situation, the sequels have at least one nasty bug involving vital items that will stonewall you, should you be unfortunate enough to encounter it:
    • In 2: Puritas Cordis, make sure you show the laundry bell to Feng Li while you're onboard the Calypso before you stick it onto a wall. Because once you stick the bell onto that wall, it's impossible to take it off.
    • In 3, if you combine the hammer with the chain while you're in Turkey before using the former to crush some red earth, you won't be able to feed the red earth into a pressure gun, which you have to do in order to make sure you can cross a pit, as you cannot use the hammer for its intended purpose once it's hooked to the chain. Without a way to separate the two, you're pretty much screwed here.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Sam. In the credits she tried to get Max to go on adventures with her, but Nina protested heavily.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Nina can potentially abandon both Cassandra and Max. The former is put into suspended animation, and the latter is saved anyway, but if you don't save him, Nina calls off their wedding.
    • In the third game, Nina must soak a teddy bear in gasoline, set it on fire, and then ignite the said gasoline with it to cause an explosion in a post-apocalyptic dream sequence.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Nina really knows how to find the oddballs.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Michael Anderson, a painting restorer from San Fransisco in the third game, is in suspended animation on the CERN ship. He's...sorta just left there. Also, the ancient civilization Max was researching in the third game. It's mentioned that nuclear fallout wiped them out deliberately, but it's left ambiguous what actually happened.
  • Wrench Wench: Nina is a skilled motorcycle mechanic.
  • Villains Never Lie: Nina is all too willing to believe Oleg. And later, she believes Jane
  • You No Take Candle: Sam mocks her dimwitted captor by talking first in Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, and then the trope when the guard doesn't understand her.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: In the second game, in Bishop Perry's chapter, if you try to hide the Parchment in the Book on the Desk without first finding out that William Patterson requested it, he stops the action because he doesn't know who the book is going to.