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Video Game / The Mystery of the Druids

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The face that launched a thousand memes!

A series of brutal murders leave Scotland Yard stumped. When Detective Brent Halligan gets assigned to the case, he bumbles his way through ordinary activities and eventually discovers the murders' link to a conspiracy by a neo-pagan cult. When he teams up with a second playable character, anthropology professor Melanie Turner, their investigation into the British Order of Druids takes them on a trip through time itself.

This 2001 PC game is largely remembered for its meme-worthy box art, but that hilarious image doesn't even begin to cover the bizarre plot and even more bizarre puzzles.


This game contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: An unintentional example; Janet is animated rather interestingly and pivots in her chair awkwardly whenever she faces Halligan.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: After first solving The Maze in the druid monastery in the past, the game automatically skips you past it from then on if you need to go between the entrance and the exit again.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The game often flip-flops as to how accepting Halligan and Melanie are of the crazy things going around them. A particularly hilarious instance is when Melanie questions whether going to Twelve Bridges can stop the druids' plan, dismissing it as "just a myth, a fairy tale!" as they're in front of Mr. Blake's blown-up house, it being blown-up just moments before by the druids with them completely present, along with the ethereal voice of Lord Sinclair warning them about their actions.
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  • Artistic License – Chemistry: An early puzzle involves the effects of drinking cups-worths of ethanol, which in this game simply knocks the recipient out. In real life, laboratory-grade ethanol has methanol as an impurity, and it only takes about 10ml of methanol to render someone permanently blind, and only 25 to kill them. And no, mixing it with apple juice isn't going to prevent that from happening.
  • Award-Bait Song: "The Kiss", playing during the credits following The Big Damn Kiss.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible:
    • Most of Halligan's coworkers are totally uninterested in helping him solve the case, including Chief Inspector Miller, who demands immediate results. The critical path of Halligan simply phoning up a bone expert and doing a google search on modern druids would have taken mere seconds compared to the hoops the player has to jump through in chapter 1 and 3, respectively. (His office phone can't make outgoing calls because apparently he's over-used it in the past, but still.)
    • Then later on, a librarian resolutely refuses to help Halligan look up a book, and refuses to let him check it out once he finds it.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The game ends with Halligan and Melanie kissing after foiling the druids' evil plan, and after the wounds of the latter from being deliberately stabbed by the former are healed.
  • Brainwashed: When he ends up captured by Lord Sinclair and his henchmen, Halligan gets brainwashed and inducted into The Circle. It doesn't last long, as one blow to the head with a skull by Melanie the next morning gets him back to normal.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option:
    • An early puzzle requires getting change to use a payphone, and the solution to get it involves getting ethanol, mixing it with apple juice, offering it to a homeless man as apple cider, putting him to sleep, then stealing his hat of spare change.
    • A puzzle not long after involves stealing someone's fishing rod. To do so, you have to wait for a nearby cat to pass by, catch it with your bare hands and a cloth, then chuck it at the man's bucket of bait, sending it over the dock.
    • In the game's climax, the solution to stop the ritual is to have Serstan's promise of having neither you or Melanie getting hurt be broken, which is done by stabbing Melanie in the gut yourself.
  • Dartboard of Hate: Halligan's office has a dartboard that on one side has a taped-on drawing of Chief Inspector Miller.
  • Delayed Reaction: An unintentional instance occurs after Mr. Blake and his house get blown up under a blackened sky. As Halligan and Melanie stand outside staring at it, it takes about 20 seconds for the sky to return to normal and the cutscene to end, and only then does Halligan finally shout "Oh god, Mr. Blake!"
  • Dialogue Tree: Present when having conversations, and figuring out the correct choices for certain situations are necessary to progress the game.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Though the exact method is spectacular, Mr. Blake meets an abrupt end halfway through the game as Lord Sinclair blows up him and his house after he finishes translating the druid manuscript. Melanie stops Halligan from going in to try and save him by saying he's probably already dead, and he's almost never mentioned again in the game afterwards.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Halligan's briefly mentions that he's trying to give up smoking, though for whatever reason, he still has an unopened pack in one of his office drawers.
  • Druid: Present of course, but they're not of the modern fantasy variety with connections to nature and animals. In this game, they're more inspired by the actual historical orders of priests, with your enemies being a modern cult that intends to Take Over the World using sacrificial rituals. When they do use active magic, it's of the highly explosive kind.
  • Enfant Terrible: Featured in the intro cutscene, the last of the druids transferred their knowledge and power into five infants called "Inheritors", with the goal of having them complete their final ritual to Take Over the World. They turn out to be "The Circle" in the present day.
  • Evil Gloating: You have the option of confronting Serstan in his chamber multiple times, and despite his insistence that you have nothing to offer him and you're wasting his time, he'll stay in conversation just to gloat about how powerful he will be for minutes.
  • The Gambling Addict: One offhand comment by Chris (the Scotland Yard scientist) mentions that Halligan's got some gambling habits to justify why he doesn't have any change to use a payphone.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • A rather extreme and inexplicable case later in the game. As soon as Halligan and Melanie end up in the past, two soldiers come by and knock them out thinking they're Danish spies, though while Halligan's put in a cell, Melanie's simply wakes up in their kitchen as the soldiers lounge in the other room expecting her to make them something to drink. The opportunity to knock them out with an herbal sleeping drink is practically given for free.
    • A lighter, but still confusing example much earlier: When Melanie has to sneak into Lord Sinclair's manor, she throws a rock at a wall to distract a guard. This attracts the attention of both him and a second guard on the other side of the manor for her to sneak into, and the two will be left huddling around it the rock for her to do so.
  • Healing Herb: After Halligan and a fatally-wounded Maglor land in a forest, he asks Halligan to find mistletoe, though he succumbs to his wounds as soon as he finds it. Later on, Halligan uses it to magically heal Melanie's stab wounds.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The reason for why the murder victims are stripped down to their skeletons is because the druids ritualistically consume their flesh, which they see as the source of life force, explaining why they've been around for so long. When Halligan gets captured and forced to dine with The Circle, he eats human flesh, making him susceptible to The Circle's brainwashing, though puzzlingly, the game is vague on whether this is before or after his brainwashing hits.
  • Improvised Parachute: To escape the druid's monastery later in the game, you take a bedsheet, burn a small hole through it using a candle, and leap out a window with it (the game skips some steps since in the cutscene that follows, he hangs onto ropes attached to it that appear from out of nowhere).
  • Info Dump: The game is really bad with this, with many long-winded passages of Exposition with characters standing in place for rather lengthy periods of time. Halligan's first meeting with Mr. Blake about druids and the Amulet of Transformation takes about 12 minutes to get the pertinent information.
  • Karma Houdini: The only negative consequence Halligan faces for robbing a homeless man is... a stern talking to from his boss.
  • Limited Animation: Even by the standards of the time this was made, it's a bit threadbare in the animation department, particularly when any humans need animating. Which is probably why many close-ups of Halligan using items are just the item floating around in space doing their own thing (like flying hedge clippers clipping the fence).
  • Loophole Abuse: The game attempts this as to how the Inheritors' plan is foiled: when in the past, Halligan only gives Serstan back his magic staff on the condition that "nothing will happen to either me or Melanie afterwards." Serstan obliges, and in the present day during the final ceremony, Halligan fatally stabs Melanie himself, somehow meaning Serstan broke his promise, causing Lord Sinclair to slit his throat(?), him and the other Inheritors to vanish, and the ritual stopped. The terms are made even more confusing when Melanie gets healed back with the healing mistletoe shortly afterwards.
  • MacGuffin: The Amulet of Transformation for the first section of the game, which is said to be required in order for The Circle to complete their ritual. It's also required for Halligan and Melanie to travel back in time.
  • Mean Boss: Chief Inspector Miller doesn't have a very high opinion of Halligan, and will take any opportunity to let him know directly.
  • Metaphorically True: In one moment during a trip to the past, Halligan encounters a blacksmith and offhandedly mentions to him he's from Scotland Yard. The blacksmith assumes it's somewhere in Scotland, and Halligan corrects him by saying "Let's just say it's a place it takes a long time to get to."
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: So, so many. One of the most egregious involves finding the Amulet of Transformation. This is done by going to a pier, finding and capturing a cat, throwing it at a fisherman's bait so you can steal his fishing rod and a bucket to scrape coarse salt off the side of a ship. Then, heading to an old druid castle's ruins, you slip by a locked gate with a file folder to get to a nearby mausoleum, grind the salt into something finer on a gravestone, then you throw it at the mausoleum, and the mausoleum explodes. Inside is an inexplicable treasure chest with the amulet.note 
  • Mr. Exposition: Arthur Blake is the source of many Infodumps regarding the druids and their possible plans. Maglor fulfills the same role when Halligan and Melanie end up back in time.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has one of the "early bad ending" variety: If Melanie gets caught outside Lord Sinclair's manor, she'll be brought in where a Brainwashed Halligan will invite her as a "guest of honor" for dinner. A few days later, her skeleton is found in a forest, Halligan is declared missing, and is seen leaving Scotland Yard.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite the setting, Mr. Blake completely forgoes a British accent.
  • Point of No Return: During Halligan and Melanie's crossing of the Twelve Bridges to reach the Gate of the Worlds, the last of the bridges crumble. Conveniently, once they have their expedition in the past and return to the present, they awaken on the other side of the bridges.
  • Police are Useless:
    • For as much as they demand Halligan solve the case quickly, the folks at Scotland Yard actively obstruct a lot of his developments that would make things smoother, including refusing to let him use their phones, scissors, or even give him a signature for a form to access a database for no reason other than spite. Even Halligan calls Miller out for being so pointlessly obstructive during the murder investigation, but Miller simply tells him to stop whining and do his research on foot.
    • While not AS bad considering he actually concerns himself with solving the case, Halligan also counts, as it never occurs for him to use his authority as a police officer to make the surprisingly large number of uncooperative individuals in his way to help him, as opposed to the circuitous and cruel path the game railroads you on. The one time he tries to use his authority on a professor who won't let him use a library computer, the latter simply mentions being friends with the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Halligan just drops it.
  • Product Placement: A Coca-Cola machine features prominently in the lobby of Scotland Yard.
  • The Rival: Lowry is another Scotland Yard detective with minor involvement in the first half of the game, and one with a low opinion of Halligan. He was previously on the case of the Skeleton Murders, but was booted off after the suspect they deemed guilty turned out to not be the case, and he makes his disdain towards Halligan taking his place very clear.
  • Rotating Protagonist: There are three brief parts of the game where you take control of Melanie instead of Halligan, the latter two being because he's either brainwashed or imprisoned.
  • Scotland Yard: Halligan is one of its detectives, and its office is a recurring setting for the first half of the game.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: One of the messages on Halligan's answering machine is from a pizza place saying he still has to pay a tab of 275 pounds. (Typical cost of a pizza in GBP: About £10.)
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: A rather glaring instance occurs when Halligan finds the Amulet of Transformation and takes the ferry back to England. When he arrives at his cabin, the player has to hide it some place in the room out of fear it's going to get stolen with no explanation as to why Halligan can't just keep holding onto it like he's been doing. Sure enough, a quick scene transition later, his room has been ransacked and the amulet is missing.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Halligan's a regular at Al's Pizza Palace, to a point where he owes them a tab of 275 pounds. When he asks Melanie out for a date, she correctly guesses where he's about to ask her to based on the piles of pizza boxes in his office.
  • Translation Convention: Played very confusingly. When Halligan and Melanie get imprisoned by a couple of English soldiers in the past, they're accused of being Danish spies in disguise who are speaking Danish. It's mildly implied that being uneducated soldiers during The Dark Ages, they perceive Melanie's modern vocabulary as Danish, except they can otherwise perfectly understand her just fine.
  • Ultimate Job Security: According to his boss and colleagues at Scotland Yard, not only is Halligan a sub par detective, but he also constantly loses and/or damages other people's stationery, rang up astronomical telephone bills until his external call privileges were cut and once put out an arrest order for Prince Charles after Princess Diana's death as a joke. With all these transgressions, it's a miracle he wasn't fired.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Halligan's office shennanigans are heavily inspired by Grim Fandango, which came out a couple years earlier, as he must put up with a demanding but unhelpful boss, has to forge his boss's signature to move the plot forward, deals with a "golden boy" rival that never seems to actually work, and so on. The difference is Manny's D.O.D. was corrupt while everyone at Halligan's Scotland Yard just seems incompetent.


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