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Video Game / Theresia: Dear Emile
aka: Theresia

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"The dignity of the dead or our own lives. Which do you think is more important?
Beautiful things are ugly, and ugly things are beautiful.
We are fools and saints."

You wake up inside a dark, creepy, abandoned facility. You've lost your memories, there are traps everywhere, and bodies are turning up left and right. The only starting clue you have to your identity is a single name, ominously written in red: Theresia.

Theresia: Dear Emile is a Survival Horror game for the Nintendo DS. Players take the role of the story's protagonist and must navigate through a complex facility, progressing further by solving puzzles and utilizing various tools, all while avoiding numerous hidden traps. In addition, players must gather clues that will help them recover their lost memories.

The game is split into two parts. Dear Emile puts you in the role of a young girl and her tragic relationship with her foster mother. Dear Martel places you in the role of an adult male and his path to atonement.


This game provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Franz and the protagonist of Dear Martel are drinking buddies. Maylee join them, and even gives booze to her plants.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Written by both protagonists (in their respective stories) and by other characters like Maylee. Finding the scattered pages is fundamental in recovering their memories.
  • Armies Are Evil: The behavior of the army Emile is a member of. Also, the army who came to collect samples in Dear Martel.
  • The Atoner: The main protagonist of Dear Martel. Maylee also has shades of this, given that the two of them created Epicari.
  • Ax-Crazy: Emile and played literally with Franz.
    • The protagonist of Dear Martel when he's infected with Epicari.
  • The Baroness: Emile. Also fits Evil Is Sexy.
  • Body Horror: One orphan infected with Epicari attempts to sew every hole in his body. Maylee cuts herself when she's infected.
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  • Break the Cutie: The protagonist of Dear Martel. He returns to his grandfather's orphanage after ten years at the behest of his little sister. He becomes foster father to the children there, becomes friends with the other doctors, fixes his relationship with his sister, and continues research for treating illnesses. Everything seems picture perfect. Then it all goes south...
  • Central Theme: Both stories present a different one...
    • Dear Emile: What does it mean to be a mother? Can a person who only knows violence truly care for someone?
    • Dear Martel: Can one truly atone for their sins, even when those sins have cost them everything?
  • Chekhov's Gun: A beautiful melody often plays during flashbacks of Dear Martel. It is from Martel's music box, which was playing as the protagonist, her brother, killed her.
    • The name "Theresia" is introduced very early in both chapters. Neither character knows what it means until they learn that it is Emile and Martel's last names, and the name of the red beads, since it was made with their DNA.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: The war claimed the lives of Leanne's parents when she was barely a year old. Subverted when Emile (who was part of the enemy nation) finds her in the rubble and adopts her.
  • Country Mouse: Franz never felt at home in the city, and jumped at the invitation to work at the orphanage in the country.
  • Dead All Along: Emile. We never find out how or why she died, either. A report hidden in a vase in Private Room 1 reveals that she was killed by the mercenaries, whom returned to the facility to assassinate her.
  • Dungeon Master: Quite literally, Emile.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: You'll have to fight through traps, bombs, fire, and more, to get out alive.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Aside from the protagonist, there is not a single person alive inside the facility. Unless you count the red beads.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The facility you're trapped in is covered from head to toe in traps. Emile set the traps to protect Leanne from the mercenaries and teach her to survive by making her suffer mostly for her carelessness in Dear Emile, while the protagonist of Dear Martel set them so that he'd suffer for his sins, as he wouldn't remember setting them due to being infected with Epicari. In addition, the normal disrepair of the buildings in both settings is quite hazardous.
  • Evil Redhead: Franz, after he's infected.
  • The Faceless & Hidden Eyes: Everybody. Moreso for the protagonist of Dear Martel, whose face is never shown even in flashbacks (occasionally, we see an arm, but that's it.)
  • Flashback Effects: Red static indicates that a flashback is about to happen.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Maylee allowed Epicari to be cultivated because she wanted to kill Martel. This is ultimately subverted, since Martel was the one person immune to the virus.
  • Gorn: It's a text game with limited pictures, but when either protagonist gets hurt, the descriptions are pretty graphic.
  • Guide Dang It!: Maylee's photo album, which sheds some light on the events in Dear Martel and the vaccine's side effects, can only be read in the Last Stage of Dear Emile's scenario if the player avoid drinking more than 3 elixirs from the start of the game. This can be very difficult, as recklessly touching everything can result to injury.
    • There is a report hidden in a vase in Private Room 1 that is readable after you visit Private Room 2.
  • Hate Plague: Epicari
  • Heel–Face Turn : Emile, when she singlehandedly mows down her former comrades when they try to kill Leanne.
  • Hint System: Each character gets an item that, if used on the self, can give a tip about what to do next. Leanne has her barbed-wire necklace, and the doctor has a mirror shard. His item is used to solve a few puzzles, while Leanne's is only a hint item.
  • Hot Scientist: Maylee.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Emile decided that she'd rather have Leanne dead than away from her. Subverted when she changed her mind later and set up the journal pieces as a bread-crumb effect to guide Leanne to the plastic explosives for her to use to escape, in case Emile didn't survive her battle with the Retribution unit.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Martel and the protagonist of Dear Martel both have blue eyes. They are siblings, after all. The protagonist seeing his blue eyes calms him down. The latter's could be innocent or demonic, depending on interpretation.
  • It's All My Fault: Martel's brother blames himself for creating Epicari. So does Maylee. The difference is that it actually is Maylee's fault.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Maylee, Franz, and Martel's brother, when infected with Epicari. She's self-violent, Franz goes insane, Martel's brother completely snaps and murders Martel when she steps on a bug.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: A symptom of the Epicari virus. Subverted with the side effect of the cure, which causes the patients to regain the memories they lost, permanently.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Or in Emile's case, crazier.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Maylee says this word for word after she has sex with Martel's brother. During the end of Dear Martel, and later during Dear Emile, she still holds to this philosophy, though she did end up loving two people, Martel and her brother, of whom Leanne and Emile remind her of.
  • Love Makes You Evil: As it turns out. Maylee deliberately let Epicari be created, with the hopes that it would end Martel's life. Because she wanted her brother.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Subverted. While there are traps set in the dungeons, they are created by a human. But since the place is in disrepair, it is still hazardous.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Franz, post-Epicari.
  • Mama Bear: Emile, just so much. Her solution when she finds out the people she works for plan to kill Leanne? Kill them all first.
  • Meaningful Name: Theresia is the name of the cure for the Epicari virus. Named after Martel Theresia since her DNA was needed to complete the cure. This is later done with Emile, who also has the same last name.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Maylee loves Martel's brother, but is incredibly jealous of Martel for getting his attention all the time. She deliberately allowed Epicari to grow in the medicine she created in hopes of killing Martel, but it soon became her regret.
  • My Beloved Smother: Emile with Leanne, where she forbids her from leaving home as well as talking with other people.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Maylee develops a treatment to combat a fever that has struck the orphanage that she's working at. Guess what emerged from that.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Leanne loves Emile as if she were her real mother, and loves things that remind her of Emile.
    • The protagonist of Dear Martel is only 'slightly' less depraved, but he loves and wants to hug a corpse covered in the Theresia beads.
  • No Name Given: The protagonist of Dear Martel. He is the brother of the titular Martel.
  • Only Sane Man: The only character who isn't completely insane is Maylee and possibly Sacha. The latter of which is killed gruesomely. Even the former has her moments, although this was when she was infected by Epicari, which drives people insane.
  • Ontological Mystery: The entire premise of the game.
  • The Pollyanna: Martel. She prays for the dead and buries them even as others burn around them. Never once does she falter even when her brother, the protagonist of Dear Martel, kills her.
  • Posthumous Character: Martel, particularly during Dear Emile, which takes place after Dear Martel.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Leanne's pendant, given to her by Emile, gives her insight on what to do next whenever she clutches it.
  • Torture Technician: Emile's job with the army. She uses Electric Torture, fire, ice, and more.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sacha. Not a good idea to put your gun down when facing an utterly up-the-wall-crazy woman who has killed dozens, if not hundreds, of people and tried to kill you once already.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The game is pretty well filled with this, though with a bit of a Subversion as well. While making incorrect choices doesn't instantly kill your character, they will set off traps that will take off a chunk of health. As the game progresses, these traps become deadlier and more lethal, meaning you can make fewer and fewer mistakes as the game progresses before dying. The Subversion of this, however, comes in the form of the Examine option. While you still have to get puzzles correct or face the consequences often enough, examining everything before touching them will often give the player clues in the form of "I see a piece of metal wedged in between the boards", usually indicating a trap that will activate upon touching the object in question or moving it in any way.
    • Unfortunately, this is played more straight in Dear Martel's story, as the doctor doesn't make quite as many observations of potential traps as Leanne does, requiring the player to be much more cautious about how they progress through his story.
  • The Virus: The Epicari virus. The primary symptoms include memory loss, and peculiar and obsessive behaviour, usually in connection with a specific memory, word or action. The severity of the symptoms vary on the individual's own neurouses. From there, it worsens to violent behaviour and it soon culminates to suicide. Maylee's photo album reveals that what Epicari actually does is magnifying the victim's negative emotions, which is why the end result is always suicide. To make things worse, the bodies of the victims will turn purple after death, meaning the virus is spreading and is now contagious. Burning the bodies helps to prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Leanne's belief that Emile set the traps to prevent her from escaping contradicts the whole setup in Dear Emile. Unbeknown to her, Emile had planned an escape route for her while making sure she'll recover her memories. She'd also made Leanne carry out her facility destruction plan to destroy evidence so her daughter, at least, can escape from the mercenaries that were hunting them down this whole time.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Emile, as Sacha finds out the hard way.
  • Yandere: Maylee
  • You Wake Up in a Room: A bedroom, to be precise. Although the protagonist of Dear Martel wakes up on the floor rather than the bed, which he notes as unusual.

Alternative Title(s): Theresia


Example of: