Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / The Mystery of the Druids

Go To
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.
  • Anti-Hero: Halligan is ostensibly trying to solve the murder case and save the world, yes, but he's willing to drug a random homeless beggar with a high dosage of ethanol just to steal the man's pocket change so he can make a payphone call to progress the plot. And that's just the first of several puzzles of doing things like this, on top of all the legitimate grievances basically everyone he knows has with him.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics:
    • The druidic texts in the game are written using Germanic runes instead of ogham.
    • It's rather fascinating how Halligan and Turner can even converse with the English soldiers and the inhabitants of Serstan's keep, considering how radically different Middle English is to the modern language used in the 21st century. At least in Turner's case, she should be able to read some of their books due to her profession, but Halligan should only be hearing gibberish (and heard speaking it) when trying to converse with either Serstan or Maglor.
  • Award-Bait Song: "The Kiss", playing during the credits following The Big Damn Kiss.
  • Batman Gambit: For all of his craziness and idiocy, Halligan's last major plan at the end of the game to stop Sinclair involves an Exact Words word of honor contract with Serstan by proclaiming "neither Melanie or himself may be hurt." Despite the vagueness of the idea behind it and the impossibly broad logic, no magical confirmation whatsoever, and Serstan moving to kill them anyway until they just zap back to the present time, it works solely by stabbing Melanie and proclaiming the deal was violated. Serstan, inhabiting Sinclair's body, is forced to reign his side of the deal.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Lord Sinclair turned out to be this, being responsible for both the troubles that dogged Halligan and the recent skeleton murders.
  • 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.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Halligan is a borderline Deconstruction of the usual adventure game protagonist in regards to this, as he's a strange and paranoid man with numerous reckless and often wacky decisions in the past that border into Idiot Hero. But instead of being seen as endearing or a joke or two about it, pretty much everyone thinks he's a bonkers conspiracy theorist and a Jerkass that makes everything harder for everyone around him. Considering some of the acts he commits to progress the game, they're not wrong.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Melanie Turner only ends up in the plot because the professor at Scotland Yard refuses to do actual proper forensics work out of spite for Halligan, and she just so happens to have been reading an Arthur Blake magazine article that discusses the particular historical context as to why she's found gold shavings matched to druidic sickles for rituals. Then we go to Mr. Blake himself, whereupon he lays out the entire plot of the villains in full, overly-elaborate detail, because he happened to be studying inscriptions describing them at that particular moment in time.
  • Cowboy Cop: Halligan is so downright reckless and borderline sociopathic with how he gets his work done, on top of being a mediocre detective to begin with, that Miller is upset at the mere idea that he has to put the guy on the Skeleton Murders case. Doesn't help that Halligan will do just about anything to get his clues and continue the case, which drives both Miller and Lowry up a wall when they catch hell for it.
  • 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.
  • Da Chief: Exaggerated. Miller has nothing but contempt for Halligan and Lowry; 99% of your interactions with him consist of him yelling at Halligan before telling him to get out of his office. However, by the time you've gotten even a quarter of the way into the game, you'll fully understand why.
  • 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 In Name Only. Unlike the typical depiction, 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.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The main reason Halligan is shut out from a good deal of Scotland Yard's resources despite it actively hindering him is because when Princess Diana died he put out an arrest warrant on her widower, Prince Charles, as a joke. Needless to say it's made him spectacularly unpopular among the Yard.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Everyone that knows Halligan personally hates him for quite a laundry list of reasons. Everyone that doesn't know him does give a casual respect to the detective - and then probably get screwed over by him in some way or another. Somehow he's baffled that people get angry at him.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Evil as he is, Serstan seems to have a soft spot for his brother Maglor, as he's the only surviving member of the household, and the only reason both Halligan and Turner are even alive was that Serstan was feeling inclined to oblige Maglor's wish. All of this goes flying out of the window when Maglor attempts to escape with Halligan, however, as Serstan's spell orb seems to be aimed at him instead of the detective.
  • 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 Friend Nobody Likes: And even "friend" is a stretch. Absolutely nobody in the entirety of the Scotland Yard likes Halligan, not even remotely, and they're entirely justified in their dislike of him: Da Chief Miller is very frequently exasperated by the consequences of Halligan's shenanigans which he has to deal with, Lowry hates him for always misplacing and never returning the things he borrowed from him, and Janet dislikes him for his tacky life choices. Chris is the only one who at least is professional around him.
  • 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.
  • Gargle Blaster: "Det. Halligan's Home-made Apple Schnapps" (i.e. concentrated medical alcohol mixed with apple juice). One sip of it knocks a grown man out cold almost immediately.
  • 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Serstan. Despite Lord Sinclair being the Big Bad, he and his fellow Inheritors are still ultimately a pawn in Serstan's grand scheme of magical immortality and total world domination via his Tyke Bomb plot.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Hero: Detective Halligan is the kind of man that would willingly drink a cup's worth of medical ethanol to see what it does (this would be Too Dumb to Live if the game treated it realistically), brags about a frighteningly high pizza tab at his favorite pizza place as a new record despite being poor as dirt due to his debts, doesn't even seem to remotely understand what is "legal" for a detective to be allowed to do, and somehow doesn't realize that most of the things he does are either idiotic, suicidal, or both.
  • 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.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Melanie quotes this trope almost verbatim after Halligan defeated the Circle. Fortunately for her, Halligan still has some of the life-saving mistletoes with him, and what little bit of druidic magic given to him by the human flesh he ate during the second act.
  • 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).
  • Infodump: 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.
  • Informed Attribute: For someone who drinks mainly beer, smokes a carton of cigarette per week, and subsists entirely on a diet of pizzas, Halligan seems to be incredibly fit and has impressive cardio, instead of being a morbidly obese person who runs out of breath every five seconds due to a combination of heart strain and respiratory damage.
  • Jerkass: Halligan, to an almost comical degree. He's rude, inconsiderate, overly blunt and willing to commit serious criminal acts to achieve his goals. At the same time, Halligan almost seems to be a cross between this trope and Cloud Cuckoolander, since he has no awareness or care for the consequences of the terrible things he does. It's not even like he brushes them off as nonsense or is in denial, it seems like Halligan has no clue he's even doing anything wrong in the first place, which is potentially worse that being just a dick depending on your point of view.
    • Probably one of the best highlights is if Halligan returns to talk to the beggar after having drugged and robbed him previously. There's no reason to do so, no items or evidence to steal- we mean collect, but the detective still proceeds to almost vindictively flaunt what he did to the beggar as "just business" and the beggar's fault, as if out of personal spite about being snitched out on it, until he refuses to talk to Halligan anymore.
    • This also extends to how people treat Halligan. The people who know him are aggressive and rude, refusing to help him unless they absolutely have to. Given how Halligan instantly takes advantage of anybody who shows him basic consideration, it isn't hard to see why they act like this.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: At first the entirety of Scotland Yard seems to be intentionally obstructive towards Halligan for seemingly no good reason at all, making them incredibly useless. Then you start finding out that Halligan is a self-righteous prick that decides what he does is more important than anyone else's needs, regardless of how much hell he causes in the process, and it turns out everyone has a reason to hate him.
    • In a rare case of Halligan making a good point, his refusal to return the case file to Scotland Yard when Sinclair finally gets him thrown off the force is at least justified because only Halligan actually knows the bigger picture about the Skeleton Murders - if they turned to Miller, the case was as good as dead, and the world would be doomed by the druids.
  • 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.
  • Love Redeems: After Melanie rescues him, Halligan becomes noticeably nicer and more heroic.
  • 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  What makes it even worse is that you can accidentally softlock yourself by going to the castle too early, preventing the correct dialogue option from appearing and making it impossible to get the salt.
  • 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. Following this is a black screen of text that reports that a few days afterwards, her skeleton is found in a forest, Halligan is declared missing, and was last seen leaving Scotland Yard.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Scotland Yard requires a much higher level of security clearance to get anything done than usual, and the need to get the appropriate paperwork completed is an issue Halligan must work around at certain points. The game is aware of this; apparently, security increased ever since Halligan put out a search warrant for Prince Charles after Princess Diana's accident as a joke.
  • 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.
  • Ransacked Room: Halligan's cabin is ransacked after he hides the Amulet of Transformation there.
  • Reality Ensues: Halligan is a genre-standard adventure game protagonist that believes in almost literal Moon Logic Puzzle solutions to the point of absurdity, and goes along with whatever option first presents itself even if it dives into Complexity Addiction and regardless of morality. This is in-character. The result is an asshole that ruins Scotland Yard's reputation and causes trouble everywhere he goes as a habit rather than an accident, as everything non-Druid related treats the plot realistically.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Lord Sinclair and his fellow Inheritors are actually close to a millennium old, their lives having been prolonged by druidic magic and ritual cannibalism.
  • Red Herring: The burnt grass from the initial murder scene is nothing more than a dead end of a lead if you bring it up for forensics, and a useless item that exists in your inventory for the rest of the game after you pick it up. No, nothing ever explains why the grass was burnt, either.
  • 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.)
  • Sociopathic Hero: Halligan is self-absorbed, manipulative, and utterly lacking in empathy. He happily screws over everybody who gives him a chance to do so, which is part of why everyone who knows him personally absolutely refuses to cooperate with him. He seems outright baffled that people get angry about his behavior. Even his relationship with Melanie comes across more as Halligan using her for his own gain, especially when he stabs her to death with absolutely no hesitation to stop Sinclaire, and with no real guarantee he could bring her back.
  • 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.
  • Synchronization: Sinclair and Serstan have this while performing the final ritual as one empowers the future Inheritors and the other finalizes the ritual to Take Over the World. Halligan takes advantage of this by mortally wounding Melanie and then shouting at Serstan through Sinclair that his vow that no harm would come to the two of them was broken. Since he made a magically binding oath to Halligan, Serstan is then magically compelled to slit his own throat, which causes Sinclair to do the same. Not that that point matters since Serstan's death causes he and the Inheritors to have never made it to the present.
  • Time Travel: Halligan and Melanie travel to centuries past, back to when Serstan would enact his plan for immortality via the child Inheritors. Not that they actually have a plan once they get there besides "stumble around until we figure out how to stop him". And even that fumbles, resulting in Halligan making an insane Batman Gambit when Serstan confronts him with a Hostage For Macguffin situation.
  • 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.
  • Tyke Bomb: The five Inheritor children are Serstan's idea of this, being granted immense power via a druidic ritual that also gave them virtual immortality, so that they can bring about total chaos and world domination a thousand years later in his stead.
  • 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.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: Early on in the game, you need to find get salt at a pier in order to blow up the mausoleum at the ruins of an old castle. In order to do so, you must follow the correct dialogue options with a couple of NPCs at said pier. However, going to the ruins too early can prevent the dialogue options from appearing at all, leaving you stuck unless you reload a save.
  • Villain Ball: Lord Sinclair, instead of disposing of Halligan after capturing him and holding him prisoner in the estate, which would remove the only thing standing between him and his goal of world domination, decided to induct him into his Circle and feed him human flesh. This would later come to bite him in the ass tremendously.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the moments right before his death, Mr. Blake's voice inexplicably becomes much grouchier and ragged before returning to normal, then grouchy again, as if a new voice actor replaced him for two lines of dialogue.
  • Waiting Puzzle: As part of the infamous quest to obtain salt in France, after talking to the fisherman at the pier you'll need to wait for a cat to appear in order to catch it.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Halligan can talk to the beggar he drugged previously, where the latter is understandably pissed off. Halligan's response crosses this line when he justifies it as necessary for his work, implying that his eccentric and sometimes cruel actions are entirely in-character as his way in getting the job done.
  • 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 Halligan has, through his own actions, utterly wrecked his reputation to the point nobody wants to help him.
  • A Wizard Did It: Druidic magic is not terribly well-explained in the game, either by the people who are supposedly experts on the subject, or by the actual druids themselves. It is perhaps best summed up by Captain DeNeuve in one sentence.
    Captain DeNeuve: "Through the magic of the druids!"


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: