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Visual Novel / The Haunting of Braidwood Manor

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The Haunting of Braidwood Manor is one of several stories from the game collection Choices: Stories You Play, developed by Pixelberry. The game consists of one book divided into six chapters. It's notable for being Choices' first foray into the horror genre.

In this game, you play as Hannah, a college student who's been haunted for some time by the death of her brother Jonathan in a car crash. She's been having numerous nightmares in which he comes back from the dead and stalks her, and she's convinced that these are more than just bad dreams—that Jonathan is not at rest.

In order to find a way to get Jonathan's ghost at peace, Hannah decides to spend some time at the legendary Braidwood Manor, which is infamous for being the site of a mass-murder over a century earlier, in the hopes of getting some answers. Once she arrives there, however, she discovers that the house has some rather dark secrets...

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The Haunting of Braidwood Manor has examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: William Waverley experienced this in the back-story, when he came home to find all four of his children had been murdered.
  • Agent Scully: While Victor consents to take Hannah to Braidwood Manor, he thinks she's nuts to want to stay at the house by herself, and is skeptical she'll find anything up there. Whether you choose to let him join you or have him remain outside prior to the final confrontation, he'll be a Skeptic No Longer by that point.
  • The Alcoholic: During the game, it's revealed that after he found the bodies of his children, William Waverley left the area and subsequently drank himself to death out of grief.
  • The Artful Dodger: Simon is a fan of the trope-naming book and behaves like the character from time-to-time, to the point of being able to pick pockets. Amusingly, his siblings inform Hannah that the first time Simon read the book, he refused to answer to any other name but "Artful Dodger" for weeks.
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  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end of the game Hannah can choose to let Eleanor do this and join her siblings, or to have Eleanor remain as a mortal.
  • Berserk Button: Do not pry too deeply into the Waverley family's secrets without Eleanor's consent; on one occasion when Hannah does this, Eleanor's response is to bodily cast her out of the manor.
  • Bi the Way: While you can make certain choices during gameplay to have Hannah be attracted to Victor, she can also flirt with Eleanor (and in one Premium Choice path, be her Closet Key).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jonathan shows up to restrain Rose near the end of the game right when she's closing in on the protagonists.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Eleanor's main priority is keeping her three younger siblings safe.
  • Body Horror: Jonathan died in a car crash, and Hannah and her parents had to identify his body, which, given what we see of his appearance in Hannah's nightmare at the start of the game, was not a pleasant sight. Same with Rose, whose body was burned in the mansion's furnace.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Thomas, Eleanor's 12-year-old younger brother, is arrogant, haughty, and openly hostile to Hannah when they first meet. As the game progresses, however, it's clear that it's a coping mechanism for him due to missing his father, who he usually played piano-duets with. Ironically, Simon—the youngest child at eight years old—does not act like this.
  • Broken Bird: Eleanor. While she's trying to keep up a strong front for her siblings' sake, it's clear that their circumstances and how they got there have not done her outlook on life any favors.
  • Bug Catching: Simon's hobby, although he insists that it's an insect collection, not a bug collection.
  • The Cameo: Kaitlyn, Zack, and Tyler flag down Hannah and possibly Eleanor, depending on player choices in the final chapter. Brandon also gets a shoutout.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Chapter 1 starts with Hannah having one of these, about Jonathan.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Averted. Near the end of Chapter 1, right before Hannah sets foot into Braidwood Manor, Victor offers to let her charge her cell-phone (whose battery life is at 15 percent at that point) with his car-charger for half an hour, and Hannah can choose to take up the offer or not. Charging the phone will allow Victor to keep in touch with Hannah at certain points in subsequent gameplay, while not charging the phone isn't an issue for Hannah as she says she'll simply keep it turned off to save the battery life. Hannah's relationship with Victor will be affected depending on which option you pick.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Simon's tin-soldier collection, which Hannah sees set out along the mansion's staircase at the start of the game to establish that the ghosts do indeed still live there, can potentially be this depending on certain choices made later in the game. If you didn't pay the diamond-cost to change Hannah's outfit to the older-era dress offered by Eleanor at the start of Chapter 2, Hannah will later produce one of the tin-soldiers in Chapter 5 to prove to Victor that she didn't hallucinate the events of the game up to that point.
  • Creepy Crows: A raven perches on a branch just above the Waverley family's grave-plots when Eleanor takes Hannah to see the graves.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Eleanor and Clarissa are both this. Thomas and Simon are male examples.
  • Dead All Along: Played with. While Eleanor, Hannah, and the other modern characters all know that the Waverleys are dead, Clarissa, Thomas, and Simon are in the dark about it. Eleanor has deliberately kept them that way as she feels it would be too much of a shock for them.
  • Dead to Begin With: The Waverleys, with the majority of the story taking place in their afterlife.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Simon relates how he once asked Thomas to play with him, while Thomas was practicing on the piano; Thomas responded by locking Simon in the pantry for five whole minutes—he's that serious about his piano playing.
  • Driven to Suicide: Both Jonathan and Rose got subjected to this, although nobody knew the circumstances for a long time.
  • Empathic Environment: While it's snowing for most of the game, its intensity seems to increase or decrease depending on the mood of the scene at any given point. During calm scenes, the snowfall is light; in more emotional moments, it increases to snowstorm levels.
  • Eureka Moment: Hannah has a realization in Chapter 5 as to how she can help the Waverley family, sparked by a brief comment from Victor about how her intention was to seek answers to whatever happened with Jonathan that she's been keeping to herself. The realization being that both Hannah and Eleanor need to reveal all their respective secrets about their families in order to bring closure.
  • First Kiss: In one Premium Choice scene, Eleanor will sheepishly confide to Hannah that she has a deeply personal secret—she's never been kissed before. Hannah can then offer to change that.
  • Friendly Ghost: The Waverley siblings are this. Rose definitely isn't. Jonathan isn't either, at first, but he gets better.
  • Gay Option: Although Victor is there as a potential love interest for Hannah, you can also have her romance Eleanor during gameplay. At the end, if you choose to have Eleanor remain as a human, the two girls can potentially be a couple.
  • The Ghost: Har, har. Puns aside, the trope itself applies to William Waverley and Hannah's parents, all of whom are mentioned throughout the game but never appear in person.
  • Ghost Amnesia: At one point Thomas expresses frustration that he can't remember the last time he went into the mansion's cellar, and at another point he can't recall how long it's been since he last saw his father. This is because he, like Simon and Clarissa, isn't aware he's a ghost.
  • Haunted House: Braidwood Manor. Even before Hannah goes there, it's long been rumored to still be inhabited by the ghosts of the Waverley family.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Although Hannah is the protagonist's default name, you can name her whatever you wish at the beginning of the game.
  • Implacable Man: Or woman, in Rose's case.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Rose cut Eleanor's throat in the back-story, and in the present she tries to crush Hannah's skull.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: While relating the legend of Braidwood Manor to Victor at the beginning of the game, you can choose to have Hannah start the tale by citing this trope verbatim. Victor will then tell Hannah to cut the story short, since they're almost at the manor at that point.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: This trope turns out to be a plot point. Hannah's refusal to tell anyone about Jonathan's suicide note is why he can't move on; and Eleanor's refusal to tell her siblings the truth about their circumstances is why they're all still stuck at the manor.
  • Love Letter: Eleanor's sister Clarissa wants to write a poem to a local village boy in which she'll outline her feelings, and she requests Hannah to help her write a draft to get her thoughts down on paper.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Or rather, in the cellar.
  • Ms. Exposition: Beginning with Chapter 2, Eleanor acts as this for Hannah, providing her with details on the goings-on at Braidwood Manor and some of the back-story.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Hannah is surprised to learn that, after she was knocked unconscious from her Staircase Tumble, Eleanor—a slim-figured girl her own age—actually managed to carry her up the stairs to put her to bed.
    Eleanor: I'm not as fragile as I look, Hannah.
  • Offing the Offspring: Rose Waverley murdered all four of her children; the youngest three were killed first by poisoning, and when the oldest daughter Eleanor found out, Rose cut her throat.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The Waverley family members are all ghosts, but Hannah can interact with them as readily as if they were still among the living. As Eleanor herself admits when asked, she doesn't feel like a ghost; she feels much the same as she did in life, except for the sensation that "something's missing, or like I've taken a wrong turn."
    Eleanor: I feel...lost. Forgotten.
  • Parental Substitute: Eleanor, the oldest of the four Waverley siblings, is this for her younger sister and brothers, as evidenced when they meet Hannah for the first time.
    Clarissa: I, for one, am very excited to have another lady to talk to.
    Eleanor: What does that make me?
    Clarissa: Uh...
    Simon: You're more like our mother!
    Eleanor: (sighs) Wonderful. You can see why I need a break, Hannah.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Late into the game, Hannah laments that if Jonathan had only been willing to come and talk to her before killing himself, their family's tragedy could have been avoided.
  • Red Is Violent: Rose is clad in a red dress, and she's persistently angry and prone to violence (and when a character is shown as angry, the background for their character portrait is a blood-red color). Even her charred bones are reddish.
  • Sanity Slippage: After meeting the Waverley family in Chapter 2 following her Staircase Tumble at the end of Chapter 1, Hannah wonders to herself if she's losing her mind. Rose definitely lost hers in the back-story, leading to her killing her children and then herself.
  • Scenery Porn: The scenery in this game is quite gorgeously rendered, particularly the outside view of Braidwood Manor.
  • Screaming Woman: Hannah tends to do this early on, usually in response to being startled or scared.
  • Secret Keeper: Eleanor knows she and her siblings are ghosts, but they don't know, and so she persuades Hannah to become this so as not to alarm the children.
    • Secret Secret-Keeper: Prior to Hannah's arrival, Eleanor herself was this in regard to that very same fact. Hannah was likewise this in regards to her brother's suicide note.
  • Shared Universe: This game shares a universe with several of the other games in the Choices series. Most directly, Hannah is a student at Hartfelt University, the setting of The Freshman, and is friends with some of the main characters from that game; and Braidwood Manor is several miles away from the outskirts of the city of Northbridge, the setting of Hero.
  • Side Bet: The final chapter has Zack and Kaitlyn betting on whether or not Hannah and Victor or Hannah and Eleanor are a couple.
  • Slashed Throat: How Eleanor died in the back-story.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Can potentially happen if you're shipping Hannah and Eleanor, depending on the choices you make (and the Premium Choices you're willing to pay diamond-currency for). Although the two are roughly the same age, they are pretending that Hannah is the younger children's new governess, which—since Eleanor is their guardian—would technically make Eleanor Hannah's employer.
  • Small, Secluded World: Except for the very beginning and the very end of the game, the entire plot takes place at Braidwood Manor, which is several miles away from the nearest town. Additionally, Eleanor has forbidden her siblings to venture very far from the mansion, in order to prevent them from discovering they've been Dead All Along.
  • Staircase Tumble: At the start of the game, Simon accidentally scares Hannah into taking one of these down the mansion stairs, resulting in her being knocked out.
  • Undead Child: The Waverley children are unaware of their deaths.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Eleanor gives Hannah a sharp dressing-down in Chapter 5 after Hannah releases Rose from the cellar, complete with a Death Glare when Hannah tries to respond.
    Eleanor: I told you to stay out of it...why couldn't you just listen?!
    Hannah: Because I want to help you!
    Eleanor: You can't help me, Hannah. I want you gone from here...and I want you to never come back!
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