Dark Parables

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
These aren't the bedtime stories you remember...

The Dark Parables are a series of hidden object games inspired by classic fairy tales. Produced by Blue Tea Games and distributed by Big Fish, the games feature a nameless detective (you) who specializes in solving mysteries connected with those fairy tales.

The first game, Curse of the Briar Rose, takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and transports it to modern Scotland, where an abandoned castle has a massive briar plant growing underneath it which threatens to engulf the nearby community. According to legend, Princess Briar Rose still sleeps in the heart of the castle, and in order to stop the plant and save the locals, you must break her enchantment and set her free.

The direct sequel, The Exiled Prince, takes place in the Black Forest of Germany, where a chancellor's daughter and her bodyguard are the latest in a series of disappearances. It's believed that The Frog Prince is responsible; they say that he still lives, centuries after his fairy tale was said to have taken place, and rumors also circulate about a fantastic palace under the Black Forest. You must solve the mystery, remove the prince's curse, and save the missing people.

The third game, Rise of the Snow Queen, takes place in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland, where a horrendous snowstorm has finally ended. As it did, the residents of a mountain village discovered that all of the children had gone missing. Reports of a beautiful woman in the snowstorm suggest the first appearance of the eponymous Snow Queen in more than a century, and it's up to you to infiltrate her frozen kingdom, rescue the children, and apprehend her.

The fourth game is slated for a 2012 release and will feature Red Riding Hood.

Tropes used in Dark Parables include:

Throughout the series

  • All Fairy Tales Are True
  • Canon Welding: All fairy tales are true, as noted above - and they all take place in the same reality. The majority of them are actually chapters in the same story, with characters from one fairy tale appearing in another.
  • Continuity Nod: Curse of the Briar Rose gives a few hints of what you'll find in Exiled Prince, which likewise gives a few hints about Rise of the Snow Queen.
  • Curse: As in the original fairy tales, but with some twists.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Similarly turned on its head, because the traditional means of breaking the fairy tale curses don't quite work the way they should.
  • Digital Distribution: On the Big Fish Games website, and a few other places too.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Just about every item you need to progress through the games is broken up into fragments which you must reassemble by solving the hidden object scenes in which they've been scattered.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Seeing as these are fairy tale princess-related games, there are a lot of sparkly shiny objects - tiaras, scepters, jewels, carriages, you name it.
  • Featureless Protagonist: In addition to being nameless, the Player Character has no other identifying characteristics. The most that is seen of your avatar most of the time are gloved hands and jacket-sleeved arms.
  • Flower Motifs: Naturally, the castle where Princess Briar Rose is sleeping in the first game has a recurring rose motif.
    • Roses also appear in the second game, along with many other kinds of flowers, but most of all there's a strong ivy motif in memory of Princess Ivy.
    • There's a recurring apple motif in the third game, hinting that the Snow Queen is actually Snow White.[1]
  • Gotta Catch Em All: Several of the puzzles require you to find all the parts of a collection, such as the six plant potions in Exiled Prince, in order to solve them.
  • Happily Ever After: What's missing from these fairy tales.
  • Haunted Castle: A recurring theme. Briar Rose sleeps in one in the first game. In the second, the trope is played with because the Frog Prince is unaware that Princess Ivy is haunting the premises in order to watch over him. In the third, the castle isn't technically haunted (its inhabitants aren't dead), but it might as well be, all things considered.
  • Hidden Object Game: Most of the puzzles are of this sort; they're integrated into the story, however. Instead of hunting for individual items in a picture, you hunt for the fragments which are assembled to forge an item that you actually need in the game.
  • 100% Completion: You pretty much can't fail at these games, if you try long enough, but the basic mode in each adds the optional challenge of finding all twenty of the cursed objects, which will speed up the recharge time on your hint button.
    • The third game adds a second optional challenge of finding all of the 'parable gems,' which enable the player to read extra stories that expand on the background of the events of the game. There are five such parables in the main game, with anywhere from three to six gems to be found for each, and a sixth in the bonus game.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Each game is available in a Vanilla Edition and also one of these. The collector's editions of the first two include bonus games which are sneak previews of the next game in the series. The bonus game in Rise of the Snow Queen is actually the Backstory to one of the parables present in that game.
  • Loading Screen: Only at the very beginning of the game, to load the main menu.
  • Locked Door: Several, and they can only be opened with their own specific keys.
  • New Game+: Finishing the basic mode of each of the first two games unlocks a second 'hard mode,' which follows the same storyline but grants the player access to Bonus Material. Averted by the third game, however, in which there are three modes of play and you can access them all from the beginning; to access the bonus material, you must complete the game (on any difficulty level) and then play the bonus game this unlocks.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Many of the hidden object puzzles result in you assembling things like crowns and scepters. In the second game, you must assemble and collect five princess tiaras for one of the final puzzles.
  • Scenery Porn: These games are gorgeous.
  • Sequel Hook: Each game ends with a tantalizing glimpse of the next one in the series.
  • No Name Given: The Player Character is only ever addressed as "Detective."
    • Also, while the second game gives names to The Frog Prince and the princess from his story, it refers to the Little Mermaid and the Swan Lake Princess only by those names. This sort of makes sense for the mermaid, who was never given a name in her original fairy tale, but Swan Lake does give its princess a name - Odette.
    • Neither the king nor the prince seen in the third game are given names; however, most of the other NPCs are.
  • Posthumous Character: In the original, pretty much everyone from the Sleeping Beauty story except for Briar Rose herself and the evil godmother. In the second game, all of the Frog Prince's five princess brides. In the third game, Snow White's stepmother, and also the Frog Prince.
  • Private Detective: The player character, a detective who specializes in fairy tale mysteries. Surprisingly, there's actually a call for that in this universe.
  • Strategy Guide: These can also be purchased and downloaded for each game; they come included in the collector's editions.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The fairy tale characters are so beloved by generations, and so believably presented, that it's very difficult not to care about what happens to them.
  • The Voice: The woman whose recorded voice provides all the information about the current case at the start of each game. It's unclear who she is, although presumably she's some form of Mission Control. For no stated reason, it's a different voice in the third game than in the first two.

Curse of the Briar Rose

  • Bizarrchitecture: The castle has symptoms of this. In particular, there's the fact that Briar Rose is sleeping in a tower... which can only be accessed by going down into a room hidden underneath the royal cemetery. Like the Canon Discontinuity mentioned below, however, this may be the work of her godmothers.
  • Bookcase Passage: A section of wall-mounted bookshelves in the castle library opens to reveal the entrance to a shrine to Briar Rose's godmothers.
  • Canon Discontinuity: A piece in one of the puzzles features Cinderella's glass slipper; but to judge by the events of the second game, Cinderella's story took place at least a few generations after Sleeping Beauty's. Of course, this can be hand waved because the fairy godmothers crafted all the first game's puzzles.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: When the prince kissed Briar Rose, everyone in the castle woke up - except her.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Playing hard mode grants access to a secret room. The words on the wall of the chamber identify it as the "Secret Room."
    • The Evil Godmother, who is never identified by any other name.
  • Fairy Godmother: Part and parcel of Briar Rose's story, of course.
  • Giant Spider: There's one blocking the progress in the chapel storage area.
  • Hair of Gold: Princess Briar Rose
  • Rhymes on a Dime: When the spirit of the sleeping Briar Rose addresses the detective, all her dialogue is like this.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: When Briar Rose didn't wake from her magic coma, her good godmothers united their power to seal the briar plant - and the Evil Godmother's power - in the castle for one thousand years. The detective is called in to deal with the situation because the thousand years are over, and the seal has broken.
  • Sleeping Beauty: Literally.
  • Spell My Title With a The: Sometimes. The title has been shown on various websites as being both "Curse of Briar Rose" and "Curse of the Briar Rose."
  • Theme Naming: The only two of Briar Rose's good godmothers who are identified by any sort of name are the Godmother of the Rose and the Godmother of the Ivy. In the second game, you learn that Briar Rose had a sister named Ivy.
  • True Love's Kiss: Failed!
  • Warp Whistle: A "mysterious arcane symbol" allows the detective to teleport at will between the alchemist's tower and the castle courtyard.
  • The X of Y
  • You Have to Burn the Web: It's the only way to get past that giant-ass spider in the chapel storage room.

The Exiled Prince

  • All Women Love Shoes: Cinderella's rooms include a massive walk-in closet filled with nothing but shoes.
  • Animal Motifs: The Swan Lake Princess's house has an unsurprising swan motif going on.
  • Animorphism: Prince James was cursed into a frog, then turned back into a prince by True Love's Kiss... then became a frog again when his wife died.
  • Anti-Villain: The Frog Prince
  • Baleful Polymorph: The Frog Prince, and the others enchanted to be frogs.
  • Beneath the Earth: Where most of the game takes place.
  • Bookcase Passage: Not seen until near the end of the game, but vitally important to saving Marie and her bodyguard.
  • Brainy Brunette: Cinderella is implied to have been this, since the prince built a library in her memory. Possibly a Shout-Out to Danielle from Ever After, although this is unconfirmed.
  • Call Back: Princess Ivy is Princess Briar Rose's sister, and thanks the detective for helping her in the first game.
  • Cartwright Curse: The Frog Prince has a form of this. Since he's immortal, he outlives each of his wives - the original princess from his fairy tale, the Swan Lake Princess, the Little Mermaid, Snow White, and Cinderella. (Except as it turns out in the third game, one of them is Not Quite Dead after all.)
  • Damsel in Distress: Marie, the chancellor's daughter.
  • Due to the Dead: The Frog Prince constructed his underground kingdom as a massive shrine to his five wives, including an elaborate tomb for his first wife.
  • First Girl Wins: Princess Ivy, the Frog Prince's first wife, is still his favorite.
  • Foreshadowing: Exiled Prince contains a few sneak previews of Rise of the Snow Queen, such as a magic mirror in Snow White's cottage whose words of warning are unintelligible.
  • Ghost Shipping: The romance in this game.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Averted; the sisterhood between Briar Rose and Ivy is acknowledged, but only in ways that make it sound like the sisters were extremely close.
  • Green Thumb: The Frog Prince appears to have magical control over vines, and grows them at will to block off escape routes and other places he doesn't want the detective to go.
  • Immortality/Immortality Hurts/Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Frog Prince's real curse.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Everyone turned into a frog, including the prince.
  • Karma Houdini: Arguably, the Frog Prince. He spends centuries haunting the Black Forest and turning people into frogs, until he's finally Killed Off for Real at the end of the game. Since all he wanted was to die, this isn't really punishment, especially since it reunited him with Princess Ivy.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: Literally, there is a door in the palace with a plaque stating exactly this. (It can only be entered on hard mode, when the requisite MacGuffin has been acquired.)
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The Swan Lake Princess, as depicted here, and of course Snow White; the other three princesses shown in the game all have brown hair. The Frog Prince apparently likes brunettes.
  • Reflecting Laser/Mirrors Reflect Everything: Used in the palace armory in Exiled Prince to unlock a hidden panel.
  • Shout-Out: Felix the Fish, the mascot of Big Fish Games, appears as a statue in the Little Mermaid's grotto.
    • Another, possibly unintentional; the Frog Prince's outfit bears a strong resemblance to that of Ezio in the Assassin's Creed games.
  • Together in Death: All the Frog Prince really wants is to die and be with his beloved first wife again.
  • Unfinished Business: It's heavily implied that Snow White's ghost has some.

Rise of the Snow Queen

  • All There in the Parables: Throughout the game, you'll collect parable gems which, when you have all of each kind, will explain how things got to be the way they are. These tell the parables of "The Rise of the Snow Queen," "The Mountain Beast," "The Golden Child," "The Tale of the Two Mirrors," and "The Snow Queen's Tale." The bonus game adds the parable of "The Witch and the Goddess."
  • Anti-Magic: The Golden Child is a child born with an ability to resist all forms of magic.
  • Backstory: The bonus game, featuring Hansel and Gretel, explains how the legend of the Golden Child came to be.
  • Big Badass Wolf: The Snow Queen's henchman uses a magic spell to summon one to keep the detective out of the Frozen Palace.
    • According to the very brief preview given of the fourth game, Red Riding Hood hangs out with an entire pack of these.
  • The Chosen One: Gerda is discovered to be the fabled Golden Child, whom the Snow Queen has been seeking.
  • Daddy's Girl: The Snow Queen is revealed to be this even after she used dark magic to turn her father into a beastly henchman.
  • Doting Parent: Snow White's father, and Snow White herself.
  • Due to the Dead: Outside of the chapel, there is a large monument to the memory of a boy carrying a bow and arrow. Another, even more cryptic memorial is located inside the chapel. This boy is eventually revealed to be the son of Snow White and The Frog Prince - who isn't actually dead, just in an enchanted sleep.
  • Famous Ancestor: Gerda, as it turns out, is a direct descendant of Hansel.
  • Feathered Fiend: The Snow Queen has a large bird of prey, probably a hawk or an eagle, as an aide and companion.
  • Giant Spider: In the bonus game, Hansel encounters one in the room whose door bears the insignia of the Spider King.
  • Ghost City: The Snowfall Kingdom is a Ghost Realm. It's eventually clarified that most of the citizens fled for their lives, and those few who remained out of loyalty to the King froze to death. Only the Snow Queen and her henchman remain.
  • God Save Us From the Queen
  • Guilt Complex: It's revealed that Snow White's father developed one over not having protected her from her Evil Stepmother. That's why he continues to protect his daughter, even after she enchanted him into a beast.
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: The Snow Queen uses a magic golden apple to hypnotize children before stealing them. There's an entire tree of magic apples growing in her palace.
  • Irrational Hatred: The Snow Queen has this for her late husband, blaming him for the incident that almost killed their son.
  • Karma Houdini: Similar to the Exiled Prince example, Snow White gets away pretty much scot-free with having abducted who knows how many children in the hopes of finding the Golden Child who could save her son.
  • Kill It with Fire: The only way to get rid of the frost wolf blocking the palace entrance.
  • Legacy Character: The Golden Child. The powers are bestowed once every silver eclipse on a direct descendant of the original Golden Child, as explained in the bonus game.
  • Magic Mirror: Before blocking the entrance to the palace, the Snow Queen's henchman informs the detective that "the mirror foretold your arrival."
    • There are two mirrors, the Truth Mirror and the False Mirror. The Truth Mirror was the one that told Snow White's stepmother that she was the fairest in the land. It was the False Mirror, which is evil, that transformed Snow White into the Snow Queen and allowed her to tranform her father into a beast.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: A villainous example. The Snow Queen's hair is white. When she's freed of the False Mirror's control, it returns to its natural black.
  • Regent for Life: The Snow Queen is sort of this for the Snowfall Kingdom, at least according to a statue in the courtyard. It's engraved with the King's own words that "I am gravely ill. My daughter Snow shall rule in my stead." It's noted in a diary entry elsewhere that the place went very much downhill after she took over.
  • Send in the Search Team: In the beginning of the game, the detective encounters the remains of a knightly searching party whose arms and carriage bear the insignia of the Frog Prince, from the second game. He sent the search party to find the Snow Queen a long time before the events of the game, because she took their son, trapped in an enchanted sleep, and ran away to her father's kingdom.
  • Shout-Out: In the bonus game, the victim in the spider's lair is identical to a victim in Macabre Mysteries: Curse of the Nightingale, which is also a product of Blue Tea Games.
  • Single Tear: All that's needed from the Golden Child to undo an enchantment.
  • Snow Means Death: The Snow Queen's everlasting sorrow threatens to freeze the entire world.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In the bonus game, Hansel must assemble the ingredients for a sleeping potion and put it into the witch's wine to save Gretel.
  • Tap on the Head: When the detective is caught observing the Snow Queen's attack on Gerda, her beastly henchman delivers one of these, and the detective wakes up in prison.
  • Warp Whistle: Two shimmery portals enable the detective to teleport at will between the Frozen Palace and two other locations.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As it turns out, the Snow Queen, who does everything she does in order to revive her son.
  • Winter Royal Lady: The Snow Queen, of course.
  • The X of Y
  1. Apples are technically members of the rose family, so it counts.