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Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness is the fourth game in the Quest for Glory series. Literally moments after his victory in the third game, the Hero was teleported away by dark magic. He awakens in a very large, and very strange cave, whose caverns seem to resemble organs or bones, and is littered with skeletons and much worse things. The Hero finds his way out of the cave and stumbles upon Katrina, a young woman who is surprised that anything made it out of the cave in one piece. She points him toward the local town where there, the Hero gradually learns more about the land he has found himself in.
The land is called Mordavia (this time the setting is inspired by Eastern European and Russian folk myths and Gothic imagery), and it was scarred by an old conflict long ago between good and evil. Once a group of deranged cultists who worshiped an Eldritch Abomination called the Dark One attempted to summon it from its natural dimension and into the world. A group led by the paladin Pioytr and the famous sorceress Erana fought against them, and managed to interrupt the ritual. Erana disappeared in the fight, and most but not all of the cult was killed. Shortly afterward, Piotyr also vanished, which caused many to think he had abandoned the land and his responsibilities.
Because the Dark One had already been partially summoned, interrupting the ceremony did not get rid of it entirely. Instead, it has been lying dormant in the form of the cave the Hero appeared in, and its partial presence in the world has been warping the land, turning it into a center of dark magic and evil creatures. Monsters of various kinds haunt the forests and lakes of Mordavia, and swamps filled with The Undead have overgrown the only road out of the valley, effectively cutting off Mordavia from the rest of the world. Although the land and its people have limped on since the battle against the cultists, the people have shut themselves in the town, only daring to leave it in order to work their fields.
But suddenly, the castle of Mordavia's former ruling family is inhabited again, and unknown to all, a new evil force has made its way into the valley to finish the ritual that would unleash the Dark One. The Hero will need to use all his might and wits to heal the wounds of the land and discover who brought him to Mordavia, why, and how to save the land and its people. Old foes and new challenges will both be found, and the Hero will face his greatest challenge yet...
This was the first game of the series with voice acting (including narration by John Rhys Davies and Jennifer Hale in her first Video Game role as Katrina). The game is often regarded as the best of the series, combining a gripping plot with colorful characters and a pleasant atmosphere. It's also known for being the buggiest.
- Actually Pretty Funny: When you tell the Ultimate Joke to Ad Avis, he sneers and claims it's not even funny, but begins laughing uncontrollably after another second.
- Adventure Narrator Syndrome: Narrator John Rhys-Davies voices an exasperated "That doesn't do ANYTHING" each time the player does this.
- Affably Evil: Baba Yaga, the Rusalka.
- Alliteration: "In a bitter battle you were better than the Badders. You kicked some butt, too."
- Back from the Dead: Ad Avis.
- Bag of Spilling: Lampshaded by the Narrator: "In what country did your luggage end up in THIS time?" You never see any of your equipment again, and have to get replacements for everything but your armor.
- Balancing Death's Books: Erana's staff has the power to exchange the life of one person for that of someone they love. Toby ultimately uses it to resurrect Tanya.
- Batman Gambit: Ad Avis uses this to kill Katrina by manipulating her feelings for the main character. He also fails badly at an earlier one: after capturing you, he chains you up in brittle chains and leaves a stake and mallet directly in front of you, allegedly to "taunt you with your ineffectualness." When you inevitably escape, the only way out leads you directly into Katrina's chambers. While you have the option to kill her (which in turn kills you), it's fairly obvious that this is a setup.
- But Now I Must Go: Done for you by Erasmus in the end.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Toby is this giant, furry, hulking, red-eyed, fanged, ill-tempered monstrosity. However, he's just protective of his ward to the point where he will sacrifice himself to bring her back to life. He's like a hulking, red-eyed Chewbacca.
- Dating Catwoman: Katrina, also known as the Dark Master, a vampiress and a powerful sorceress trying to unleash a Dark One into the world.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Shadows of Darkness.
- Dirty Old Man: Doctor Cranium, whose goal for re-animating dead bodies (think Frankenstein) seems to be to create a living sex toy for himself...
- Dream Sequence: Sleep at Erana's Staff in town, or at Erana's Garden, for some meaningful (and occasionally disturbing) dreams. Seems that a trapped spirit is trying to communicate with you.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Trying to kiss or even "cop a feel" on a sleeping vampire woman. She's not happy when you wake her up with a boobhonk.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The villagers, since they don't know you from Adam. You have to earn their respect. It certainly doesn't help that you tell them that you walked out of the cursed cave that has been the bane of their existence for a generation. A cave that has been closed for at least that long. A cave that quite literally bodes no good.
- Eldritch Location: The Dark One's Cave. It actually IS the Dark One, in a state of partial summoning.
- Femme Fatale: Katrina.
- Fortune Teller: Magda the gypsy.
- Freudian Excuse: Katrina's not a bad person, she's just really lonely. Just ignore the part where she'll doom the world by bringing forth an Eldritch Abomination to blanket the world in darkness to let vampires reign supreme.
- Fun with Subtitles: The townsfolk's ad-libbed dialogue.
- Game Breaking Bug:
- While arguably one of the best games in the series, Shadows of Darkness suffered from numerous bugs that would crash the game at important points. This wasn't fixed when rereleased in an anthology, even.
- The floppy version had a particularly terrible bug for the Thief: after completing all the various quests, the beginning of the endgame is contigent on a particular note showing up in your room at the inn. For the Thief, and only the Thief, that note would never, ever show up if you missed one very easy to miss and normally completely optional sequence.
- Probably the most ridiculous one: it's possible to have the Big Bad kill you during the finale... after you've already killed him.
- Genre Savvy: Between Quest for Glory I and Quest for Glory IV, Baba Yaga wised up enough to realize that actively antagonizing you is a bad idea. She'll offer you Fetch Quests (all but one are optional), but won't harm you unless you agree to a quest and then welsh on the deal.
- Gentle Giant: Toby, the monstrous guardian of Tanya.
- Godiva Hair: The Rusalka.
- Gone Horribly Right: As a result of the attempt to complete the summoning of the Dark One, Katrina obtained "all of the darkness she so desired... and much, much more.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Magda is described as an older, but still attractive woman, and after a few good deeds, she talks a little about how she'd pursue the Hero if only she was about twenty years younger.
- Haunted Castle: Castle Borgov.
- Heel Face Turn: The Rusalka. Initially, she tries to drown you because, well, that's what Rusalki do; she doesn't particularly want to, but she's compelled to seduce men and drown them. Giving her flowers convinces her that you're a nice guy, and jump-starts the sidequest that results in her being allowed to move on to the afterlife.
- Identical Grandson: The Paladin Piotyr looks identical to his grandson Dmitri the Burgomeister. Only the latter has a longer beard.
- Killer Rabbit: A literal example, although also averted with them actually being among the weakest monsters in the game.
- Lampshade Hanging: The Thieves' Guild has an document that lampshades several Insecurity System tropes such as Concealing Canvas and The Password Is Always Swordfish, saying they happen because people are too stupid and/or lazy to get really creative with their hiding places and passwords.
- Lopsided Dichotomy: When the Hero is surrounded by the thankful people of the land after completing yet another heroic quest, cue Erasmus and Fenrus taking that moment to scry on the Hero, with Fenrus commenting:
"It's either an award ceremony or a lynch mob."
- Money for Nothing: The other games in the series suffer from this, but none more so than Shadows of Darkness; you will only ever need money for two things: room and board at the inn (1 crown for a week) and various items from the General Store that only cost about 10 crowns total. You can also spend crowns on (optional) tarot readings (to a maximum of four), but that only costs you one crown per reading. And for the record, one of the first things you do in this game is loot a couple of bodies for about 15 crowns.
- Moral Dissonance: Parodied. If the player is a Paladin, he'll refuse to smash open a cabinet containing healing potions because it's wrong to destroy other people's property. Thing is, the cabinet's in a monastery formerly used by a cult worshipping an Eldritch Abomination, and the narrator mentions your character will happily torch the place if he gets the chance (in fact, you get honor if you do torch the place)! Capped off with a line like, "Nice consistency of belief there, eh?".
- Morality Pet: Tanya to Katrina.
- Ms. Fanservice: The Rusalka.
- Fan Disservice: Once the Paladin defeats her murderer's Wraith. Yuck. Oh, and he has to kiss her to free her.
- Nice Hat: Bonehead wants one.
- No Honor Among Thieves: Quite literally: a Thief character can kill the Chief Thief after restoring his human form, but doing so immediately knocks your Honor rating down to 0.
- Noodle Implements: The Ultimate Joke, whom we are only told involves a wizard and a farmer's daughter, will make even a Big Bad vampire villain bend over in laughter. It's further explained that the joke works only once.
- Only Smart People May Pass: A literal example at Dr. Cranium's house. "Entry by prior appointment or demonstration of superior intelligence only."
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: While he's a bit low-key about it, Ad Avis never seemed to like women. 50 years of service to Katrina and being forced to serve her in death has probably done little to improve his disposition toward them.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: "Anitra's Dance" by Grieg, plays in the Inn. Dr. Cranium's lab music has Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor's intro.
- You drink from the Cask of the monk Amon Tillado.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: The player and Erana, in some cases (having magical ability helps; so does having high Honor and not being a Thief). While you two never met, your immense goodness resonates with hers so much that even despite being dead, she falls for you. Doubly so if you are a Paladin. The climax of a number of dreams (see Dream Sequence above).
- Tarot Motifs: Very important, and uses an actual tarot deck and some surprisingly accurate interpretations. It's obvious that the Coles did their research.
- Together in Death: Anna and Nikolai.
- Totally Not a Werewolf: Gypsies are voluntary shapeshifters and scoff at the villagers' fervent belief in the stereotypical werewolf legend (involuntary change, weakness to silver, etc).
Gypsy: Gypsies are not werewolves! But we are... shapeshifters!
- The Un-Reveal: The only thing you ever find out about 'The Ultimate Joke' is that it involves a wizard and a farmer's daughter.
- Undead Child: Tanya.
- Unfinished Business: The Rusalka is forced to haunt the lake and kill people because she was drowned by an unfaithful lover; to release her spirit, you have to tell her her real name and avenge her death by calling up the spirit of her murderer and delivering some holy justice.
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: The Dark Master.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: The gypsies can turn into wolves at will.
- Where It All Began: You end where you started, in the Dark One's Cave.
- You Are Worth Hell: Both Anna and Nikolai agree that being ghosts isn't so bad when they have each other.