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"Oh Nigel, what have you done? Oh God! What have we done?"
Dark Fall: The Journal, sometimes known simply as Dark Fall, is a 2004 Point and Click adventure game that falls squarely in the horror genre. It was created by Jonathan Boakes and is noteworthy for being extremely well-made despite being a small, independent production.
The game takes place at Dowerton, an abandoned West Country train station and hotel. The player character's brother is attempting to renovate it into a bed and breakfast. It turns out that the train station has a Dark and Troubled Past involving many mysterious disappearances over the years and apparent paranormal activity. Your character receives a panicked message on your answering machine, leading you to hitch on out to the train station in the wee hours to investigate the matter. When you arrive, no one is there...at least no one besides a child's disembodied voice. Against your better judgement, you begin exploring this eerie place.
Positive Word-Of-Mouth got the attention of The Adventure Company and the game enjoyed a wider release, which in-turn led to two sequels (Dark Fall: Light's Out and Dark Fall: Lost Souls) and a spin-off game (The Lost Crown).
In Lights Out, you play as a cartographer who was sent out to an isolated lighthouse on an island off the coast of Britain to find out what happened to its keepers. As before, the people you are looking for have literally vanished, and the process of trying to find out transpired takes you on a (creepy) journey through time, through thousands of years of the island's history.
In Lost Souls, you play as an Inspector who, five years before, tried and failed to discover what happened to a missing girl from Dowerton named Amy. You have returned to Dowerton to try to... find her? Save her? Settle the questions in your mind? Your reasons for being there are obscure, as is the truth about what happened five years ago. You'll gradually learn the awful truth as you play your way through Dowerton Station; if you played The Journal, you'll recognize the place, but just barely. It's...really gone downhill.
These games contain examples of:
- Abusive Parents
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The versions of Gloria Grable, Andrew Verney, and Matilda Fly in Lost Souls are a lot more angsty than the ones in The Journal. More of an adaptation-effect than a sequel, due to the first game's cosmic retcon ending.
- AFGNCAAP: Some details are given (rough age, last name, etc..), but most of the player's identity is still vague. Only the nameless Inspector of Lost Souls has a voice, face, and history, but you have to work fairly hard to learn about any of those. Averted in Lights Out, where your character's identity is about the only thing you can be certain of at the start.
- Afterlife Express
- All Just a Dream: The entirety of Dark Fall: Lost Souls might just be a hallucination brought on by mixing vodka and medication.
- Antagonist Title
- Ascended Extra: Nigel goes on to become the main character in The Lost Crown
- Big Bad
- Big Secret: Despite there being two criminals secretly hiding out at his hotel, George has much more serious things on his mind.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Lost Souls had a LOT more blood in it than the previous games. As in, "it was all over the walls, floor, and ceiling."
- Campbell Country
- The Chew Toy: Polly White. In each of the first two games she ends up investigating events way above her pay grade with the backing of Hadden Industries... only for the player to make the incidents she was investigating never happen by the end of the game. In the former, at least, it saved her from death and eternal torment in the process. In the latter... not so much.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The only reason Andrew seems even more calm and level-headed than Timothy is that, unlike Timothy, he seems to have no idea what's going on; the lucky bastard.
- Creepy Basement
- Creepy Child: Timothy Pike, though he's also really friendly
- Dark and Troubled Past: Both the train station and the Crabtree family
- Darkness Equals Death: Subverted when you go to the third floor for the first time. That doesn't stop it from easily being one of the scariest moments of the game
- Dead All Along: Mr. Bones
- Dead Man Writing: The Titular Journal
- Dead Person Conversation
- Distressed Damsel: Polly
- Distressed Dude: Nigel and The Player Character's brother.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Doing in the Wizard: The second game initially hints that the cause of the disappearances and strange temporal phenomenon is another Cosmic Horror like in the first game... only for it to turn out that they are the result of a psychotic AI-controlled space probe -- which was trapped in the distant past in a teleportation accident -- trying to manipulate events so it can return home.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Tom has...abandonment issues
- Evil Phone
- Fate Worse Than Death
- First Person Ghost: All three games are non-shooter examples, and excusable given how it enhances the spookiness.
- Gainax Ending: Both of the possible endings in Lost Souls. The "happy ending" has the Inspector successfully revived but failed in his mission to return Amy; the other is absolutely horrifying. Both, however, are crazy and fit this trope to a T.
- Ghost Amnesia
- Ghost Lights
- Happy Ending: The First Game
- Haunted Hotel
- Hearing Voices: At least half of the creepy stuff is what you hear, not what you see.
- Most Annoying Sound: Play enough Dark Fall, and sooner or later you'll get really sick of the oft-reused "over here!" ghost-voice soundclip used in every game. Especially when you actually do go "Over there" in Light's Out and the little **** starts LAUGHING at you!
- The whispered "Here..." that clues you in to where you should use the Hadden devices is a bit spooky, particularly if you mistake it for some sort of Cthulhu Mythos reference ("Ia!").
- Hell Is That Noise: Used a lot with the grub-things and worse in Lost Souls.
- Ho Yay: George Crabtree and Arther
- Thank God. Then I wasn't the only one who saw that?
- Inn of No Return (of the supernatural variety)
- I See Dead People: Or rather, the ghost-hunting equipment lets you see the dead people and/or their possessions.
- It's Up to You
- Jerkass: Tom and Gloria
- Justified Tutorial: The first few minutes of gameplay with Timmy basically teaches novice adventure gamers how to use the Myst-like interface.
- Love Makes You Evil: Betty
- Mind Screw
- Missing Mom: Timothy and (possibly) Arther
- Mistaken for Murderer: Your character in Lights Out, as shown by the 21st-century museum exhibits.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Polly and Nigel
- Tom's friend, Will
- You, in one ending of Lost Souls. Great job unleashing that supernatural horror, inspector.
- No Ontological Inertia: The final cinematic vaguely suggests that defeating the Dark Fall undid everything it ever did over the centuries
- Lights Out confirms this, as Timothy Pike evidently grew up to be an author.
- Ironically, because the Retcon erases the Dowerton station's scary reputation as a place where people vanish, the version seen in Dark Fall: Lost Souls is a lot more run-down and ruined, as vandals and junkies didn't avoid the place.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The third floor of the hotel. You will need a change of pants after the first visit.
- Occult Detective: Polly and Nigel. The player character is forced to act as one during the game.
- Ominous Music Box Tune
- The Other Darrin: Polly changes to a new voice actress in Light's Out, as does Matilda in Lost Souls.
- Sealed Evil in a Can
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Lost Souls features several lost souls who need to have some part of their history examined and fixed before they can leave Dowerton in peace. This includes you.
- Shout-Out: Loads of references to Boakes' sources of inspiration, particularly "The Ballad of Flannan Isle" for Lights Out and "A Warning To The Curious" in The Lost Crown.
- Sinister Train Tunnel
- Small Name, Big Ego: Matilda Fly is an in-universe example, but only in the first game.
- Spooky Painting
- Talking to Themself: Echo from Lost Souls
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know
- The Voiceless: Neither the architect's sibling from The Journal nor the cartographer from Lights Out ever speaks aloud, even when it would be sensible and beneficial to do so. The Inspector does talk, but for some reason his voice actor is listed as a "?" in the credits.
- Ultimate Evil: The Dark Fall itself
- The Unsolved Mystery: The back-story to the game.
- In-universe examples are featured in museum exhibits from both Light's Out and The Lost Crown. In the former, the culprit in the lighthouse disappearances is widely believed to have been your character, but the suspect vanished so the real truth never came out. In the latter, it's a mystery skeleton found in the woods, which you can identify as a victim of the Ager brothers.
- Urban Legends