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Video Game / The Dead Case

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It was dark. Very dark. But then, you'd expect that in a coffin, wouldn't you?

The Dead Case is a Point-and-Click Game mystery game by Zachary Shaffer, released on Newgrounds on June 7th, 2004.

You play as a ghost who is is trying to solve his own murder after losing his memories in death.

The Dead Case contains the following tropes:

  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: The three bullies' names start with A, B, and C: Alec, Bobby, and Clyde.
  • Berserk Button: The hospital ghost hates doctors. He died because of a medical error.
  • Children Are Cruel: A group of children are seen constantly teasing and bullying a young girl. The school ghost finds peace by chasing them away and befriending the girl.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Getting people to believe in them — mostly commonly by scaring them — makes a ghost stronger and able to travel further and manipulate objects.
  • Creepy Basement: The basement of the serial killer, whose burned-down house has human bones in it. His wife remembers going into the basement where she discovered evidence of his crimes.
  • Dead to Begin With: The protagonist was shot by the serial killer because his fiancée was the killer's next target and he was in the way. Stopping the killer from shooting the fiancée ends up being the game's climax.
  • Does Not Like Men: The church ghost. The first time the male protagonist tries speaking to her, she snaps at him and flames out. The library ghost describes her as reacting poorly to men; talking to her again later, she is surly and says she has enough trouble with idiot males. She hated her husband, but forgot him in death, so her feelings got directed toward men in general. Once she remembers him, her hatred is aimed solely at him.
  • Double Take: One of the kids you scare glances at you, goes back to looking bored, turns back to you, stares blankly for a few seconds, then looks scared and runs off.
  • Driven to Suicide: The school ghost committed suicide after losing her husband and her daughter.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The driver whose actions led to the death of the hospital ghost sank into alcoholism out of grief. Part of helping the hospital ghost find peace is encouraging him to forgive the man for his actions and help him get a liver transplant.
  • Eye Spy: The school ghost is missing her eyes, but she can see murky water, which is a clue where to look for them.
  • Fiery Sensuality: The church ghost has the appearance of a woman with a stylized figure and a body made of flames. She is described as "kind of sexy for a ghost".
  • Film Noir: It has shades of this genre, albeit with ghosts as the protagonists.
  • Flaming Hair: The church ghost has flames for hair.
  • Fog Feet: The library ghost and school ghost have ghostly tails, with the latter's looking a bit like a mermaid's tail at times, fitting with her watery theme. The other ghosts have legs.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Ghosts seem to get this in general. The protagonist forgets his own life of course, but the school ghost forgets her dead daughter while the church ghost forgets that she found dead bodies in her husband's basement.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: The little girl being bullied has a stuffed rabbit she loves. Showing it to the school ghost also reminds her of her dead daughter.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the puzzles can be pretty difficult, including one part where the player has to insert names into a computer from memory (which is annoying if the player doesn't know to write the names down when given them). It's not helped by the fact that navigating the town can be a bit difficult, especially if you don't catch that there's a map in the help menu.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the church ghost was murdered was because she discovered that her husband was a serial killer. She ended up dying when he set the house on fire to hide his crimes.
  • Morphic Resonance: Ghosts' spiritual form is influenced by how they died, so their form gives a clue as to the circumstances of their deaths.
    • The hospital ghost died due to doctor error, likely being poisoned by the wrong drugs. His form is that of a green, dripping, humanoid blob.
    • The church ghost was killed in a fire, and appears as a woman formed entirely from raging flames.
    • The schoolyard ghost hanged herself after her daughter died of SIDS. Since she constantly talks about how sad she was, her watery appearance is likely due to constantly shedding tears.
    • The protagonist was shot in the head. His form is bloody and he's missing an eye, suggesting that's where he was shot.
    • The library ghost is a former police detective that was forced to quit due to health problems. He died from heart failure, so his spiritual form is mostly unmarred.
  • Mr. Exposition: The library ghost informs you on how ghost stuff works.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: A rather dark variation. The protagonist was murdered by the serial killer because the killer wanted his fiancée as his "bride" (that is, he wanted to kill her so he could have her and his other victims as a harem in the afterlife). When the protagonist finds a board with the photos of the killer's victims on it, his own picture is there captioned "He got in the way".
  • No Name Given: Subverted with pretty much every major character. The hospital ghost is named Stephen Marks, the school ghost is Rebecca Halloway, the church ghost is Marion Toberen, the library ghost is Ivan Kent, and the killer is Greg Toberen. And the player character is named Adam Smith.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The player gets one if they don't stop the church ghost from setting the fiancée's house on fire to try to kill her husband. The ending will say that the fiancée will die in the fire, but the serial killer husband will escape.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • When the church ghost gets part of her memory back and when the school ghost gets her eyes back, their reactions break from the standard presentation by using smaller and/or larger text than usual.
      Church Ghost: Oh my... I had forgotten... How could I have forgotten?

      School Ghost: I don't believe it... You found my eyes!
    • When the church ghost is about to burn down Dana's house after Greg goes inside, her speech is in yellow text.
    • Greg's speech is in orange text, making it stand out.
  • Pet the Dog: The hospital ghost reluctantly agrees to help Rick, the town drunk, despite being accidentally killed by him.
  • Playing with Fire: The church ghost is made of fire, and can start fires.
  • Police Are Useless: The cops of the town seem pretty incompetent. According to the library ghost they're covering up the protagonist's murder and one is shown playing solitaire on the computer when she's supposed to be working. Subverted by the library ghost, who used to be a cop in real life and spends the rest of eternity researching various murder cases to try to solve them.
  • Point-and-Click Game
  • Rainbow Speak: Most of the text is white, but some key words are in yellow.
  • Serial Killer: The church ghost's husband stalked and murdered a number of women, always keeping photographs of his victims and burying at least one of them in the basement. He's also responsible for the murders of the protagonist and the church ghost. Though technically he only killed two victims for his intended series, it's clear he would have killed more were it not for the protagonist's intervention.
  • Shout-Out: If you try to pick up the phone in the north-easternmost house, you get the message: "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?"
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: The library ghost wears glasses and is the most knowledgable about ghost stuff, thanks to his research.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: The game opens with the protagonist's ghost rising from his grave.
  • Undeath Always Ends: The ultimate goal for the protagonist is to move on to the next life. Unfortunately, he can't do that until he resolves all the lingering issues keeping him around. Subverted for the other ghosts, who remain among the living and find fulfilling purposes there.
  • Unfinished Business: The ghosts can't move on until they've dealt with the issues burdening them.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After you beat the game, there's a montage showing what happens to the various characters.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: The entire point of the game is to find out the circumstances behind the protagonist's death.
  • Woman Scorned: The church ghost manages to remember hating her husband because she thought he was cheating on her. What he actually was doing was much worse...