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Video Game / Shadow of the Comet

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76 years ago renowned scientist Lord Boleskin traveled to Illsmouth to witness the passing of Halley's Comet... Instead, he stumbled upon the dark secrets of an evil cult. He escaped with his life, but at the cost of his sanity, and he spent the rest of his life locked up in an asylum, his findings dismissed as the ravings of a madman. Now Halley's comet is returning and photographer/astronomer John Parker is travelling to Illsmouth to uncover the truth for himself. Following the footsteps of Lord Boleskin, can he now succeed in dispelling the Shadow of the Comet?

An Adventure horror game from 1993 by Infogrames, an original story based in the Cthulhu Mythos. The player assume the role of the British photographer, John Parker, who travels to the isolated town, Illsmouth in New England, on the official business of photographing Halley's Comet's 1910 passing, but he has an objective of his own: Uncovering the truth about what happened to the scientist, Lord Boleskin, who went mad when the comet passed by the town in 1834.

When he arrives, Parker stumbles upon a sinister conspiracy and must survive the three days between his arrival and the comet's passage while finding out what happened to his predecessor.

Infogrames followed up this game with Prisoner of Ice, which, while not a direct sequel, takes place in the same universe and contains a few of the same characters. In it, players take control of Lt. Ryan, an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army a couple years before World War II. The events of Shadow of the Comet are referenced in the first Alone in the Dark, which (unlike its sequels and reboots) was also based on the Mythos.

The CD-ROM version is notable for featuring not only full voice-acting, but also coming with a mini-game titled Visit to the Lovecraft Museum, in which the player controls a nameless visitor to a Museum of the Strange and Unusual containing exhibits based on or inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and his literary work. While it plays the same as the main game, it offers very little gameplay or purpose beyond simply exploring the museum and examining what it has on display.

Shadow of The Comet contains examples of:

  • Agent Scully: Parker is this at first; he certainly seems reluctant to believe in the existence of an evil race of immortals or that the cult could really bring them back to Earth, although he soon changes his mind when confronted with enough evidence.
  • All Deaths Final: Played straight. Dead characters do not come back, unless you count Alistair Boleskins' ghost.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Sadly the protagonist finds one of his allies like this after the friend in question is Left for Dead by one of the cultists. Despite their injuries and having to talk around a persistent cough the character valiantly gives Parker some vital information and access to a few items.
  • Badass Normal: John Parker himself. He's a human scientist and investigative reporter with no supernatural powers or immortality unlike most of his enemies, yet he still determines to stop the cultists and even faces some of the gods themselves.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Parker arriving just in time to save Walter Webster and his mother Ellen from being sacrificed.
  • Bookworm: Tobias Jugg who works at the Town Hall and is responsible for the town archives and records. He is an avid reader and has lots of books at his house and even a secret library.
  • Character Death: Happens to several characters both good and evil.
  • Chest Burster: How one of the characters dies, with several tentacles bursting out of their chest cavity.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: There is one in the forest which is both an ancient Indian Burial Ground and the cultists main area of worship.
  • Comet of Doom: While there is nothing to indicate the comet itself is evil, the passing of Halley's comet does coincide with the alignment of planets and stars being right for the Great Ancients to be brought back to Earth.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Many of the character portraits are based on famous actors, such as Vincent Price and Jack Nicholson.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: It's based on the Cthulhu mythos with Dagon, Cthulhu, and Yog-Sothoth all making appearances at some point during in the game. Nyarlathotep gets a mention as well.
  • Convenient Decoy Cat: The protagonist uses this ploy to sneak into a guarded building at one point.
  • Despair Speech: It's optional and easily missed, but if you talk to Gloria at the right time on the third day, she will practically beg Parker to take her away from Illsmouth, both to get away from the village itself, and to escape the influence of her overbearing Aunt. Her voice shakes slightly and she sounds so distressed and genuinely close to either tears or panic when she says it, its pretty effective. Unfortunately you don't get the chance to actually help her, and you don't get a chance to talk to her away from her Aunt again either.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Three times? The climax involves you directly confronting Dagon, Cthulhu, and Yog-Sothoth in the flesh while completing their banishing rituals - this results in Parker not only surviving with sanity intact, but with Dagon set on fire and several of Cthulhu's tentacles and an eye being victim to a Portal Cut.
  • Disability Immunity: Parker has a heart condition which at least once helps keep his sanity in check as he passes out at the first glimpse of otherworldly horrors instead of having the time to take it all in.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The game has a rare positive ending for a game (or anything really) based on Lovecraft, but given what the protagonist has to go through to get there, they've really earned it by then.
  • Evil Old Folks: Averted with the majority of the older characters, most of them mean the main character no harm and are just minding their own business, and one will even befriend and try to help you, but played straight with both Wilbur Hambleton and William Coldstone, they are both elderly (if immortal) and evil.
  • Evil Twin: Wilbur to Curtis. Despite Curtis being described as the younger brother he and Wilbur were conceived/born on the same night and are twins. Wilbur is clearly very high up in the cult's order (after Narakamous) and he and his family are some of the more dangerous people you have to cross. Curtis meanwhile just wants you to leave him alone. He won't help you, but he isn't out to harm you, or anyone else either.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Andrew Arlington is this at first, being one of the people who welcomes you to the village. William Coldstone and Nathan Tyler also play to this trope on occasion. Averted with Wilbur Hambleton and his sons who make no pretence of being pleasant at all.
  • Fish People: The Deep Ones are this. Curtis and Wilbur are half Deep One (although its more noticeable on Wilbur) and if you look closely at either of them, they both have webbed hands.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Miss Picott does this to Jed Donahue when he keeps on making comments and interrupting Dr. Cobble, who is acting as spokesperson for the village and trying to thank Parker for everything he's done.
    Miss Picott: Jed Donahue, will you kindly let the Doctor get on with it?!
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Why Lord Boleskin went insane after seeing the face of the evil gods.
  • Guide Dang It!: The game isn't as bad as some examples but it is pretty linear and missing certain objects or choosing the wrong dialogue can result in you needing to restore to an earlier point. Also the maze section can be very frustrating to complete without help, especially when trying to get out again.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Curtis and Wilbur Hambleton are both half Deep-One, and while its never explicitly stated probably Obed and Benjamin are too.
  • He Knows Too Much: Although they are discreet about it for the most part, at least during daylight hours, the cult members start hunting down Parker for this reason, especially after he is caught spying on one of their ceremonies.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Subverted. Lilith has the pretty looks, but is neither flirtatious or quick tempered. Of the two times she speaks to you the first is just to thank you for speaking up for her family in the village, and the second is to praise you for having the courage to fight the evil tainting the area, to read your fortune for you, and to give some parting words of encouragement.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Mi-Go and Ghouls are this, they're monstrous in appearance, but have a basic human shape.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: After Parker collapses and is found and treated by Dr. Cobble and they have been discussing his condition / medication.
    Dr. Cobble: And no reckless pranks. You're young, but I'm only a physician, NOT a wizard.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Lord Boleskin, especially if you read the additional information that came with the boxed version of the game where he is revealed to be very aggressive and even inflicts permanent damage & disfigurement on one of the doctors trying to treat him.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between John Parker and Tobias Jugg.
  • It's Personal: A mild example but Parker seems to take Tobias Jugg's death very much to heart with some of his dialogue. One example is triggered when you visit/look at the grave (you will get one of two variations which seem to change from game to game) and Parker's voice sounds shaky and slightly choked, with some anger creeping in as he is finishing the line.
    Parker: Good Grief, it's poor Jugg's grave. This will not go unpunished, this I swear.
    Parker: Jugg's grave... Those who did this will pay in full, this I promise.
  • Laughing Mad: Lord Boleskin becomes this in the course of the intro.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Actually has a happy ending where humanity wins... For now.
  • Lovable Coward: Walter Webster. He is a polite and friendly enough person, as Parker himself notes, and he is one of the first people willing to help you. Unfortunately he also gets spooked and runs away at the first hint of danger.
  • Magical Native American: Natawanga, it's downplayed, but he is clearly shown to have some magical knowledge and powers, luckily he also has nothing to do with the cult and turns out to be a helpful ally to the protagonist. Narakamous is the evil version of this trope.
  • Maiden Aunt: Miss Picott is this to Gloria.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: How David Underhouse lost the use of this legs... He annoyed certain members of the cult while trying to investigate/research the Stone Circle, leading to his "accident."
  • Mark of the Supernatural: Both Curtis and Wilbur, who are half Deep One, have mismatched eyes and webbed hands. In both cases one eye is amber and the other green.
  • Moral Guardians: Miss Picott seems to have appointed herself as this for the entire village, even bullying the village doctor into joining the local Temperance League.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: The setting of the mini-game Visit to the Lovecraft Museum, which was included in the CD-ROM release.
  • My Beloved Smother: Miss Picott certainly seems to be this towards Gloria if you listen to their conversations. While she does care for Gloria and is good intentioned, she is very controlling, and extremely strict. She is also constantly trying to push Gloria into marriage, but disapproves of all Gloria's own choices and seemingly would prefer it if Gloria would marry a man of her choosing, despite Gloria's protests.
  • Nephewism: Nieceism, but Gloria is clearly living with, and is implied to have been largely raised by her Aunt.
  • Nice Guy: Thomas Bishop, he is certainly one of the more friendly townsfolk and one of the few willing to help you. He also seems to help in the local community checking on Curtis and helping to look after Thomas Greenwood who is deaf/blind and mute and also a friend of Curtis.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Obed and Benjamin Hambleton do this to Walter Webster, apparently due to having a long-standing grudge against his family. They only stop because the protagonist intervenes, although some of the other villagers protest as well.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Jonas Hambleton... The word "zombie" is never used, but he is apparently undead and certainly isn't the typical mindless flesh eating kind of zombie, he will even have a brief antagonistic but lucid conversation with the protagonist before morphing and attacking them.
  • Police Are Useless: Sergeant Baggs is probably the most prejudiced, clueless, and most easily manipulated character in the entire game.
  • Religion of Evil: The cult that worships Cthulhu and Dagon and is trying to help the Great Ancients return to Earth.
  • Run or Die: The two chase sequences are this, and a couple of other situations require you to get away fast as well.
  • Spirit Advisor: The (sane) ghost of Lord Boleskin serves as this on a few occasions, and in a slight variation Natawanga also acts as this on one occasion too... Although as he isn't dead it's more a form of Astral Projection.
  • Take My Hand!: Ellen Webster saves the protagonist this way. Escaping the tomb / labyrinth and hurriedly climbing up a rope the protagonist slips and almost falls to certain death... Except Mrs. Webster who tends the graveyard heard all the commotion, and manages to grab one of his arms with both her hands and haul him up with the help of her son.
  • The Many Deaths of You: You can be shot, stabbed, die in a fire, fall from a height to your death, die from a heart attack, be impaled, drown, get killed by any one of the game's monsters...
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necronomicon is this.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Illsmouth is this despite it seeming like a pretty and quiet little fishing town at first glance. Even the locals who aren't involved in the cult are aware of or feel its influence to some extent.
  • When the Stars Are Right: The passing of Halley's Comet every 76 years happens to coincide with an astral conjuncture of stars and planets which is needed to open the portal to let the Eldritch gods return to Earth.
  • White Sheep: Curtis became this after helping Boleskin as a 12 year old child, then being scared half to death when one of the gods manifested in the sky and Boleskin subsequently went mad. Curtis escaped with his sanity, (possibly because he isn't entirely human himself?) but the experience traumatised and shook him up enough that he no longer wanted to have anything to do with the cult, causing him to be thrown out by his father, cursed by his brother, and forced to live in squalor for the rest of his life (he's 88 by the time the game is set). He is not hostile or antagonistic to the hero at all, or in general, and even has friends among the normal villagers, but he doesn't appreciate the protagonist bringing up the past trauma and is too afraid to help anyway. Even before the incident leading to him leaving the cult, he appears to have been a nice and normal acting child according to the information you find.