The Deed is a Role-Playing Game about a young man returning to his family estate after a long absence, in order to join his family to celebrate his father's fiftieth birthday, visit with the house staff, and murder his deranged sister to protect his status as rightful heir to Dunshiel House.
Arran Bruce is about to be disinherited in favor of his sister. He's only got one opportunity to be rid of her, and if he's going to do it, he'll have to do it right: find a murder weapon with which to do the deed, plant suitable evidence to cast suspicion on someone else, drum up enough gossip to point the police in the right direction, and do it all well enough that no one can point to him as the suspect. Unfortunately for him, that means dealing with the family he hates, in the home he gladly left long ago.
It's a very short, fairly simple game that focuses mainly on structuring a "whodunnit" style mystery in reverse, with ample replay value depending on who the player tries to frame (and whether or not they succeed) and the limited number of conversations available in each playthrough. It's available on Steam, released on November 23, 2015.
A prequel was released in 2016, featuring the Bruce family across three different eras: a 15th century English castle, a wild west frontier saloon, and the Dunshiel House fifty years prior to the events of the original game. There was also a sequel released in 2020; while sharing some elements, its plot is disconnected from the Bruce family, instead telling the tale of a Bedlam House survivor seeking revenge against the doctor that tortured him.
This game contains examples of the following tropes...
- Abusive Parents: Malcolm and Gloria
- Animal Motifs: Overlaps with Animal Stereotypes.
- Rats, for Arran. Jennifer calls him "rat", his father accuses him of being weak and cowardly, and of course he's there to kill his sister from the start; one of the options for a murder weapon is rat poison, the achievement for using it is even called "it takes a rat". Depending on his dialogue choices, he may also fit the "dirty rat" type in dealing with the police. And then there's Henry, his pet rat.
- Dogs, for Malcolm. The only animal in the house is his hunting dog, named "Beastie", who shows no interest in anyone who doesn't have food, and he himself is angry and self-interested, but fiercely loyal to his bloodline, if not strictly his immediate family. And with the implied connection between his and Jennifer's mental health, and his own physically violent nature, it fits the rabid dog type.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Naturally.
- Jennifer, Arran's sister, has been mentally ill all her life, and suffers from strange obsessions. She's also a lesbian, obsessed with the maid, prone to fits of depression and suicide attempts, and seems to have inherited her father's violent streak and his loathing of Arran.
- Malcolm, Arran's father, is obsessed with the illustrious history of the Bruce family and hates his son for being too weak to carry on his responsibilities as heir. He's also physically violent, and will leap at any excuse to physically abuse Arran, even as an adult. One of the evidence items is the leather strap he used to beat him with as a child.
- Gloria, Arran's mother, is withdrawn, cold, emotionally abusive, and utterly disinterested in anything but Jennifer and keeping anyone from making a scene. She also secretly wishes her daughter had never been born, had no trouble blaming Arran for Jennifer's mental illness when they were children, and deliberately set her violent husband on her son for not taking responsibility for said mental illness. She's lapsing into alcoholism to cope with the stress.
- And, of course, Arran himself, whose only goal in the game is murdering Jennifer. He's also The Unfavorite, having spent his entire childhood being savagely beaten for not memorizing the lengthy and boring particulars of which of his fancy ancestors owned which fancy trinkets, being blamed for his sister's mental illness, and being constantly reminded that his sister sadistically killed his only friend with neither remorse nor consequence.
- The Butler Did It: Lampshaded. If a particular weapon is used, the Inspector will express doubt that the butler actually did the deed specifically because this trope is too cliché. If you actually do successfully frame the butler, the media has a field day with it.
- The Caligula: Jennifer, if she's allowed to inherit. Preventing her from becoming this trope is the main goal of the game.
- Call-Back: One of the endings calls back to one of the flashbacks. Arran recalls that Jennifer's obsession with mirrors and the decline of her mental health began when they were children, right after she killed Arran's pet rat. If he inherits the house, Arran stands in front of the same mirror, consumed by what he's done.
- Casanova Wannabe: Some of the dialogue options present Arran as a gross-yet-confident creep if he flirts with Sofia. Or if he tries to sexually assault her in the kitchen.
- Creepy Crossdresser: If you get caught with Jennifer's panties in your pocket, Arran can cheerily explain about wearing his sister's lacy underthings since he was a child and disturb the Inspector.
- He Who Fights Monsters: In one of the endings. If Arran inherits the house, the ending shows him lingering in front of the hallway, implied to be setting into the same obsession that consumed Jennifer.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Sofia. Arran may be into her, depending on how the player handles conversations. Jennifer has the hots for her, too, although she's hardly a hero.
- Inventory Management Puzzle: A core element of the gameplay. You can only take two items to serve your purposes: one weapon, and one piece of evidence. Some of the larger ones, like the pool cue, can't be pocketed, and require a little more room than Arran will have, without a long coat to hide it in.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Gloria refers to Henry, Arran's pet rat, as "it". Henry was his only friend.
- Madwoman in the Attic: Averted with Jennifer. The family pulls her out of school, refuses to discipline or enforce any rules on her to the point of letting turning her bedroom into a Room Full of Crazy, and it's implied she rarely leaves the house, but it's her own choice. Why should she leave? All her obsessions live there.
- Multiple Endings: Depending on whether you succeed or fail, with variations depending on who is convicted of killing Jennifer, and how strong the evidence was.
- Downer Ending:
- If Arran is convicted, he spends the rest of his life in a cell, plagued by nightmares of the murder and wondering if this was Jennifer's final revenge.
- If Arran avoids suspicion but fails to get anyone else caught, his father suspects him, but can't prove it, and arranges for the estate to be placed in a trust upon his death. Your efforts were completely in vain, but you must live with the guilt anyway.
- Bittersweet Ending: If Arran frames someone else successfully, he inherits the house upon the death of his parents, but the house staff can't bring themselves to stay after the incident. He is left completely alone, consumed with nightmares and emptiness, gazing into the mirror that first sparked Jennifer's obsession.
- Downer Ending:
- Room Full of Crazy: Jennifer's room is covered in mirrors, the main object of her obsession. She's up to 73 now! The description of the room upon being entered describes the mirrors as giving the impression that the room is weirdly crowded. Some events in the game imply that she uses them as a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of emptiness after killing her brother's pet rat.
- Silk Hiding Steel:
- Sofia, who is polite and demure, but will firmly draw the line with Arran and is implied to be edging the butler out of his duties so that Gloria will force him to retire and she can take over.
- Arran can play this one deliberately. Being nice and feigning interest is one of the best ways to get valuable gossip about what's been going on in the house, and calmly accepting abuse and showing concern for others is a good way to throw the Inspector off your scent.
- Spoiled Brat: Jennifer, to incredible extremes.
- Stepford Smiler: Gloria. She does have a bit of trouble with the "smile" part while her son is around, though.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: The Inspector will call Arran out for his behavior, particularly in how he treats the house staff and his behavior over dinner.
- Villain Protagonist: Arran is premeditating Jennifer's murder from the get-go.