Deadly Premonition

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Clear as a crisp spring morning!

Have you ever felt like a game was made just for you? Like it was pandering to your own sensibilities and your own sense of humor? It did something different and you really enjoyed it but maybe not everyone else got it. But you did and you really liked what it was doing.

I'll let you describe Deadly Premonition here, Zach.

Greenvale. An unassuming small American town with all the necessities--a gunsmith, a gas station, a diner, two pubs--and little out of place. Certainly not the kind of place you'd expect to find the mutilated body of a young girl, stripped and bound to a tree as if crucified, left to be found by two young boys. The inexplicable appearance of monstrous humanoids which bleed purple and have a compulsion for bending over backwards and jamming their arms down one's throat is a little odd, too.

Francis York Morgan (just call him York, that's what everyone calls him) is an agent of the FBI with a special interest in murder cases involving young women. He works alone, save for the company of his invisible friend and confidant Zach (don't ask) and has little patience for local law enforcement. They've never seen anything like this, and York is not inclined to explain every little thing to them. Even so, an agent can't work without information, and York will need all the leads he can get if he wants to get to the bottom of this case. Kind of reminds you of Twin Peaks after a little while.

Deadly Premonition, also known as Red Seeds Profile, is a game for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC released in 2010. While panned by reviewers for its less than stellar graphics and uninspired combat system, its quirkiness and personality combined with surprisingly able storytelling have made it a possible Cult Classic in the making.

Tropes used in Deadly Premonition include:
  • Abandoned Hospital: The hospital in the "red world" is only inhabited by the shadows, but that could be said of the "red world" in general.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • George's mom, who was mentally unstable and regularly whipped her son.
    • To an extent, Harry, George's father. He abandoned his son with the full knowledge that his wife was mentally unstable and did nothing about it for years.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Police Procedural genre.
  • Alien Sky: The town sports one whenever enemies are about.
  • All There in the Manual: The developer's blog details a few key points not explained in the game, such as the relation between the Red World and Forest.
  • Alone with the Psycho
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming:
    • With a few exceptions, the major citizens of Greenvale represent an entire alphabet. The case begins with the murder of Anna, which leads to the arrival of York and Zach, and everyone in between is a suspect.
    • With the exception of Thomas, every character vital to the plot is between A and H.
    • All of the characters A through G die, and Thomas is the only person outside that range who dies.
      • They tend to die in alphabetical order, though it isn't absolute.
  • Always Murder: York muses that he always seems to get stuck with the very unusual 1% of crimes that involve serial murderers. Then again, he does work for the FBI, and solving serial murders happens to be part of what they do.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Plays during the original Raincoat Killer sequence.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: You fight giant Kaysen, the final boss, in one.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Thomas, who has rather effeminate movements and is a surprisingly great chef. Confirmed later on.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: While the Japanese version gives you an honest idea of what to expect with a clear shot of York and a preview of the Profiling mechanic, the American boxart is more suggestive of some horrible gore-obsessed game from the nineties trying too hard to be cool. Considering how much York adores old B-movies, this is unintentionally fitting. See Covers Always Lie.
  • An Axe to Grind: Everyone's favorite psycho in a red raincoat, of course
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different:
    • One chapter has you playing as Emily, and another as the original Raincoat Killer in the fifties.
    • The final boss fight has you playing as Zach.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Various sidequests have suits as rewards. Some of them do something, like extend your life bar, some don't.
  • Anyone Can Die: Anyone. It's scripted as to who dies when and where, but there's a reason you can backtrack to earlier chapters in this game; you wouldn't be able to get all the sidequests otherwise. In fact, it's possible to get all the sidequests done on one playthrough provided that you put off the story as long as possible.
  • Arc Words: "At times we must purge things from this world because they should not exist, even if it means losing someone that you love."
  • Armies Are Evil
  • The Atoner: Mr. Stewart became this after he failed to protect his son George from his abusive wife, turning George into a twisted powermonger.
  • Battle in the Rain: In the fight against George.
    • The final boss fight also, though not as noticeable.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grow your own, or shave it off!
  • Big Eater: York, probably due to whatever ridiculous metabolism causes him to be so hungry after a short nap.
  • Bishonen Line: Sort of. The final boss goes through a couple of grotesque transformations only to turn into a larger, creepier version of his normal self at the end.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The case is finally resolved, but several characters are still dead including Emily and York. On the other hand, Zach is finally freed from the Red Room.
  • Body Horror: The red trees growing out of people.
  • Boom! Headshot!: "Bullseye! Great. Great. Amazing! Headshot." Gives you extra Agent Honor.
  • Boss Rush: The "Psychic Spot C" sidequest.
  • Breakable Weapons: Only melee weapons, though this is balanced by them being much more powerful than the guns. You can earn unbreakable versions of melee weapons through side-quests though.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Agent York is clearly more than a little unhinged, from the way he's always talking to the unseen Zach to the way he fixates on memorizing the directors and years of release for many movies, to the bizarre way he reacts to certain phenomena such as cracking inappropriate jokes during a grisly autopsy. However, he's also a surprisingly competent detective and his ability to fixate upon minute details to create scenarios in his mind is impressive.
  • Bury Your Gays: Played straight with the only confirmed gay person in town: Thomas. Who goes insane first.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: Played with. Kaysen seems like he forgot who George was, before remembering that he was a part of his plans and insulting how simplistic it was to get him to join his cause, though it would make sense that Kaysen would forget who George is, considering his modus operandi.
  • Camp: Filled with it, and lampshaded almost every time.
  • Canine Companion: Willie, Kaysen's pet. And, according to Word of God, the interpretor for the force that was giving Kaysen orders.
  • Captain Obvious
  • Catch Phrase: Aside from York's trademark introduction, he also has "Zach, they're here" whenever he enters the Other World.
  • The Chanteuse: Carol.
  • City Mouse: York's got a bit of a city mouse thing going on at the start of the game, acting like traveling to the countryside equals going among cavemen. He's wrong though, it turns out they're as far as the Middle Ages!
  • Clock Tower: Emily fights Thomas in one.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • York, as you will realize when he starts casually informing Zach of the omens he finds in his coffee. Pretty much reaches Bunny Ears Lawyer-status.
    • There are several townspeople with similar quirks. Sigourney comes to mind.
  • Companion Cube: Sigourney's pot. It mustn't get cold.
  • Cool Car: York's car, before he totals it in the prologue. And after it gets fixed up.
  • Covers Always Lie: The American cover art makes out the game to be a complete horror gore-fest when it's more detective work than anything.
  • Creator Cameo: Sort of. A bar is named after him, the "SWERY '65". He also appears in a trading card.
  • Creepy Twins: Isaach and Isaiah.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Both York and the Raincoat Killer, who seem to have more fun playing with each other than actually wanting to take each other out.
  • Dark World: The nightmare world sections. Whether or not they take place in "reality" or are some sort of illusion or hallucination is left murky for quite a while.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Thomas is a tad obsessed with George. Really, his "G" tattoo should have been a big giveaway.
  • Detective Drama: A very closed one.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Somewhat--York does, but the player-character does not.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: The only fences you can get past are the ones that can be broken down by smashing. Ditto for the crates. You often get a little reward money for this, too.
  • Disappeared Dad: York, Emily and George all lost theirs one way or another at young ages. Two of those have highly sinister reasons.
  • Disc One Nuke: It's possible to obtain an infinite-ammo SMG early on from a sidequest, making combat go by a lot faster.
    • Even earlier than this the infinite durability wrench can be obtained from a sidequest, which is far better than the initial pistol.
  • Diving Save: York employs this to rescue Diane who's hanging from the ceiling of the Muses Gallery.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Almost literally. Willie is Forrest Kaysen's handler, who relays his orders from the Red Tree.
  • Double Entendre: "Rosy Lips" Gina. Think about it.
  • Driven to Madness:
    • Poor, poor Thomas. Witnessing Becky's and Diane's deaths was just too much for him.
    • The townsfolk of Greenvale that got into contact with the purple fog released by Kaysen and the military.
  • Driven to Suicide: Zach's father puts his gun to his head after failing to shoot his wife before the sapling planted in her sprouts.
    • The player is given the option of direct suicide in the end.
  • Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Anna. Lampshaded by people remarking on how beautiful she looked, and possibly subverted by Isaach and Isaiah practically worshiping her in death.
    • Emily isn't too bad on the eyes. Definitely worth going primal over.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • Eldritch Abomination: Forrest Kaysen
  • Emergency Weapon: The pistol York starts out with that cannot ever be dropped.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: As part of the profiling game mechanic.
  • Expy: York bears more than a passing resemblance to Agent Dale Cooper, quirky mannerisms and all.
    • Several of the other townsfolk have passing resemblance to characters from Twin Peaks. Thomas is Andrew the Sheriff's deputy. Quint is Bobby with elements of James. Becky is Donna.
    • Forrest Kaysen is directly imported from a previous Swery game, Spy Fiction. There, though, he was a scientist based off of Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park.
  • Eye Scream: The American box art depicts such a picture.
  • The Faceless: York's father's face is always shrouded in shadow from the nose up, despite the rest of the room being adequately lit.
  • Fast Forward Mechanic: York can smoke cigarettes to make time pass more quickly. Also, any bed will allow him to sleep for three, six, nine, or twelve hours at a time.
  • Fat Bastard: Forrest Kaysen
  • Fetish Retardant: In-universe - Gina's "sexy dance" while washing York's car leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
  • Fetus Terrible: Despite not being children, Kaysen's red trees fit the bill.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Fog of Doom: The purple fog coming from the red trees causes anyone who is exposed to it long enough to be driven insane.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Emily is surprised to learn that York was a bit of a punk rocker in his youth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Being based on Twin Peaks, this game is chock full of it. Perhaps the most damning piece of foreshadowing, that is probably the most easily overlooked, are the red raincoats you can find in the police station storage room.
    • York's very first profiling sequence rapidly flashes forward throughout the entire game and contains some images that are quite significant and spoilertastic when you know to look out for them, including shots of both Becky and Diane's deaths, Zach's dead mother with the sprout growing out of her belly, and the scene where Emily is united with the other victims.
    • Also, if you look closely, you'll notice that George's scar gradually becomes more open and featured with each murder.
    • The foreshadowing begins in the very first chapter, in the very first room, where you have to examine a number items to proceed. All of them are appear irrelevant... until you begin the final boss fight and recall that one was a doll of a fat man.
    • "The excessive loss of blood from her internal organs is what actually killed her.", as the camera pans onto a squirming Emily...
    • George has a red tree in his front yard. Once you realize it is there, it sticks out like a sore thumb. His license plate is also a giveaway, and during one scene the camera actually focuses on it for a second. His house is also the only one in Greenvale you can't peek into.
    • "F...K... In the coffee!".
    • Just after meeting Diane, York tells Zach that she will likely lead him to the killer. He then looks up and sees Kaysen in her office.
    • During one of the "coffee fortune" scenes, York tells Zach that a colleague of his once had his hair turn completely white from stress. The colleague is in fact Zach himself.
    • While incredibly funny at first, George's logic about going to Velvet Falls to find lost files that are important to the case, saying that if they don't find them, they'll become more powerful, becomes more meaningful near the endgame. George has a very big obsession with "power", due to his mother beating him with branches when he was younger.
  • For the Evulz: Kaysen was already immortal and had no real need for any of the murders, and it is very clear that he torments the citizens of Greenvale and plants the red trees in women all over the United States purely for his own amusement. He's just that much of an utter bastard.
  • Freudian Excuse: George, George, George, George, George, George, and George.
  • Full-Name Basis: Michael Tillotson seems to insist on referring to York as "Mr. Francis York Morgan".
  • Giant Evil Doberman From Nowhere: Appears to rise from the ground whenever York is exploring the town late at night.
    • Ignoring the species, it could be Willie.
  • Garden of Evil: The 'red world' that York occasionally visits is covered is strange red vines. In some cases, Greenvale itself is a Garden of Evil in the making, thanks to the red seeds scattered about that can drive the entire town insane.
  • Genre Busting: One of the reasons this game isn't Trope Overdosed despite its popularity is the fact that it's so difficult to completely classify in a few words.
  • Girly Run: Thomas.
  • Glasgow Grin: The enemies in the nightmare world sport them.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom / Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Raincoat Killer.
  • A God Am I: George committed the murders hoping to become immortal.
  • Godiva Hair: On Anna's corpse. From what few flashbacks we see, she wore her hair that way normally even when she did have clothes.
  • Going Through the Motions:
    • George's compulsion for throwing his hands out in exasperation can seem threatening after a while.
    • Emily's ability to pose with her hands on her hips even while sitting down is almost frightening.
    • York sticks his finger up in the air and taps his tie so often that if a drinking game were to be based around them you'd have to make sure to use half-shots.
    • When you talk to some people, they'll shove whatever they were holding into their back pocket, even if it's a large object like a broom or a jug. After talking to you, they'll proceed to remove it from their pocket and continue on with their business.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars:
    • York has a small scratch under his eye, and an older scar going through his left eyebrow and up his head (mostly all healed now). Zach has a much more heroic (and obvious) one down through his eye.
    • George's back is riddled with them, which obscures the ONE tree-shaped back-scar York is looking for. George's facial scar also slowly becomes more pronounced with each murder, something most people don't realize until way after the game is over.
  • Gorn: The town's deceptively friendly atmosphere makes it really shocking when someone dies in such a violent manner.
  • Government Conspiracy: The US military deliberately released the purple fog onto the populace of Greenvale for an unrevealed reason and quickly covered it up, wiping it clean off of any official records.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Averted in that guns are very useful throughout the game, but played somewhat straight in the way a melee weapon will do much more damage than a pistol or machine gun.
  • Hannibal Lecture: George lectures York on power before his boss fight.
  • Hate Plague: Caused by the purple gas
  • Hell Hound: Those giant rottweilers that appear if you stay out too late. Willie is also this by Word Of God, being Kaysen's "handler."
  • Hope Spot:
    • When Becky is found in her house all strung up. She's alive, but soon dies due to the trap being set off.
    • When York dives off the balcony to save Diane. She's saved from being impaled on a pointy sculpture. Five minutes later, that same sculpture falls on top of her.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Judging by his dialogue and mutations, either Forrest Kaysen was never human to begin with and just spreads violence and chaos For the Evulz, or he's been alive for a very, very long time, to the point where he no longer sees himself as human and just spreads violence and chaos For the Evulz.
    • If you attempt to kill him at the wrong time he will mention that he was "always more than human", and is "A messenger from the Red World".
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Harry isn't stupid by any means, but damn, Michael can do everything! He also frequently displays an enourmous amount of knowledge about Greenvale's past and current events, even when Harry isn't feeding him information. This makes a lot more sense, though, after he reveals that he's Harry's adopted son during his sidequest.
  • Idiot Ball: York near the very end, completely failing to notice the most obvious hints in the game that point to Kaysen's guilt as well as the "peace sign" being a tree. Possibly justified by the fact that Zach's mental block concerning Kaysen probably doesn't allow for clear thinking when he's involved.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Kaysen with Emily. He actually goes all the way.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Thomas's gruesome death scene. In the head, even!
  • Improbable Weapon: Some of the melee weapons York can wield include a wrench, a weed whacker, and Keith's guitar. And it turns out that Keith's guitar is one of the best weapons, if not the best, in the game.
  • Infinite Flashlight: Without the flashlight, even!
  • Jack the Ripoff: The new Raincoat Killer is nothing like the original Raincoat Killer.
  • Just for Pun: The first victim is Anna Graham. The last victim gets soiled.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: The Ingram twins, not quite grasping the concept of death, believe that Anna has become a goddess of the woods.
    • Subverted in that the victims have in fact become "goddesses of the forest", as the twins can see them in the forest (along with York) during the epilogue.
  • Insistent Terminology: The men of the Morgan family seem to identify mainly by their middle name, since not only is York rarely called Francis, his father Brian Xander Morgan is mostly known as Xander (and even calls his son by his middle name).
  • Insufferable Genius: York isn't shy about letting rural cops George and Emily know he's a much better detective than them. He lightens up on it a little later on though.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Played straighter than straight. You can't stray off of clearly marked paths in forest areas, even with a car. For that matter a lot of chain-link fences are surprisingly sturdy and won't budge even if you slam your car into them. And let's not forget the part where you have to fight your way through a building in order to get to the other side of some couches.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: Emily gunfights Thomas in the town bell-tower, whilst he uses a revolver. Things stop sounding normal from there as he's wearing a dress, on a clock wheel, and using a hook as his second means of harming Emily.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Time progresses at nearly a real-time rate (25 seconds to every minute). It fast-forwards if you smoke cigarettes or sleep, though doing so will cause your hunger meter to decrease greatly.
  • Lady in Red: Anna, the first victim, Carol in her singer getup and the rest of the victims.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Attempting to describe Emily's cooking, York at one point starts describing a mission which had him going down into the sewer, and inspecting the trash compactor in Emily's kitchen leads him to comment on whether or not that constitutes illegal dumping of hazardous waste. Thomas refers to Emily's attempts as "amazon cooking." Peeking in Emily's house, the charred stovetop really says it all.
    • Subverted with the turkey, cereal, and strawberry jam "Sinner's Sandwich" - York initially thinks it's supposed to be awful so as to be a form of penance for the eater's past sins, but after he tries one he finds it to be so delicious that he immediately changes his order to it.
      • Truth in Television too, if you use a cereal like Cheerios, that sandwich is actually really good.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Nearly all the NPCs wear only one outfit for the entire game regardless of time, location, or weather; the ones that do have different outfits change them only for plot reasons (Emily changing into a slinky black dress for dinner, the "goddesses of the forest" changing into red dresses, etc...).
    • Averted with York, as you can have him wear any of a number of suits and have it reflected in the cutscenes. Played straight with Zach, who cannot change suits.
  • Locked Into Strangeness: Young Zach's hair turns white after witnessing his mother's brutal death and his father's suicide, then getting scarred by Kaysen.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Emily eventually falls for York who is revealed to be Zach's Split Personality.
  • Make My Monster Grow: No spoileriffic description here. You just have to see it to believe it for yourself.
  • Man in White: Michael Tillotson. Also Mr. Stewart in York's dreams.
  • Meaningful Echo: General Lysander, who runs the junkyard, keeps going on and on about the importance of speed and having a fast car. Harry Stewart, the only other person the same age as him in town, keeps saying that haste makes waste. "Some people think speed is the only thing that matters. They rely on speed, and are satisfied with what speed brings, but they miss sight of the important details."
  • Meaningful Name: George Woodman. This also counts for the original Raincoat Killer, AKA Harry Woodman's father.
    • Don't forget Forrest Kaysen who goes around selling saplings.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Zach's mother begged his father to kill her before the sapling planted in her sprouted.
    • At the endgame Emily begs York (now Zach) to do the same.
    • The original Raincoat Killer killings may be considered mercy kills as well.
  • Mind Screw: How much of the action sequences were actually real? Were the enemies civilians who had been caught in the rain, ghosts of the original victims, or figments of York's imagination? Why could Emily see them? How much of Harry's story was true? Was the military really responsible, or was Kaysen acting alone? Why was Kaysen in the military at all? Did the final boss fight even happen? Why does everyone intuitively know to call you Zach after The Reveal? Does that mean that you only thought you were calling yourself York? Why can Isaach and Isaiah see dead people? Why were they in the Red Room? What was the Red Room? Why did Kaysen know about it? What did he mean when he said that he was from the "Red World?"
    • And to a lesser extent, SWERY's graphic on his director's blog that points out that Greenvale's borders are the outline of a dog... specifically, Willie.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Zach's scarred left eye is hazel, and his good right eye is blue.
  • Mobile Maze: Harry Stewart lives in one. The entrance room rotates when Michael taps some keys on the piano, and the door behind him leads to a different place each time.
  • Money for Nothing: You get pocket change for a ridiculous number of actions. Shaving, changing your suit regularly, driving at top speed for as long as you can, checking the weather, and so on. You'll likely get most of your money from defeating enemies, but it's still amusing to get paid to go about your daily routine.
  • Mood Whiplash: Every few minutes. You'd best wear a bracer when playing this game. "Hahaha--WHAT THE?!" sums it up.
  • Mummies At the Dinner Table: George keeps his abusive, dead mother in the basement just like a certain motel owner.
  • Necro Cam: Starts off terribly blurry. Finding more clues allows York to get a "clearer picture" of what really happened.
  • Nerves of Steel: York most definitely has these. Milder situations include waking up from what seems, by all accounts, to be a standard Catapult Nightmare with nothing more than a small sigh and staring down crowds of monsters with a wry grin. Truly amazing examples include chatting idly with Zach when he is captured by Thomas after he knocks him out, and shrugging off the penultimate boss's Freudian Excuse with a few well-placed wisecracks. Which, being Zach's alter ego created to protect him from harm, makes perfect sense.
  • Never One Murder
  • New Game+: You can replay any completed chapter with all your current inventory items intact. Considering certain sidequest givers die at certain points in the game, this kind of backtracking is vital.
  • Nightmare Face: The Shadows of course have their vile grins (which are the only things vaguely frightening about them), but the real show stealer is York with the hilariously terrifying wide grin he pulls at bizarre moments.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: If you decide to have Zach kill himself or shoot Forrest Kaysen rather than (attempt) to Mercy Kill a begging Emily, you're treated to York telling you that you made the wrong choice with a shriveled up Emily with parts of the red tree that Kaysen planted sticking out from her.
  • Notice This: Deadly Premonition leans more heavily upon this than most modern games--any object that can be interacted with has a huge glowing pool of light in front of it, whether it's a switch or an item to be collected. About the only thing that doesn't glow are doors (though plot-relevant doors will have a red pool of light in front of them).
  • Not Using the Zed Word: The zombie-ghost enemies aren't given a proper name. York simply refers to them as "Them," though some of the profiling photos of them call them "Shadows."
    • This might just be because most characters never acknowledge the creatures' existence, let alone discuss them. George uses the zed word near the climax to refer to something not unlike the zombie-ghosts.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • George kills Becky and Diane right in front of you, and to everybody it looks like he's just a tragically inept klutz.
    • Kaysen. Full stop.
  • Older Than They Look: Anna Graham recently graduated high school making her around 18, but looks closer to 35.
  • One-Winged Angel: Both George and Kaysen take on freakish mutated forms for their boss fights.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The music for Kaysen's final form.
  • Only Sane Man: Emily considers herself this. She's the only main character, besides York, who didn't grow up in Greenvale, so she doesn't seem to have any of the other townfolk's eccentricities.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: While you can get penalized for mowing down too many lampposts or driving too close to any townsfolk on foot, it barely dents your wallet. That said, the only non-monetary penalty for hitting other drivers is that your vehicle gets damaged.
  • Orifice Invasion: Some of the enemies like to shove their hands down York's mouth. Given the chance, these enemies will shove their entire bodies down York's mouth, which will definitely kill him.
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Phony Veteran: York makes out Lysander to be one of these, noting that the old man wears a sergeant's uniform despite calling himself The General. Inverted, as it turns out that Lysander actually was promoted to general but out of guilt during the Vietnam War continues to think of himself as a sergeant.
  • Photo Psychic: Played straight with York's profiling.
  • Posthumous Character: Anna, the victim whose death kicks off all the ruckus.
  • Press X to Not Die: Used whenever running from the Raincoat Killer or during a boss fight.
  • The Profiler: This is York's entire schtick. His sole method of investigation is to find a few items of evidence and use them to concoct a scenario.
  • Quirky Town: Part of what causes the Mood Whiplash is how goofy some of the folks are in town.
  • Railroading: While you have a generally lax schedule (see "Take Your Time") for much of the game, there are points where you immediately have to go to a target, usually by car, which won't allow you to get out of them, and even give you unlimited gas and make your car completely invulnerable, almost as if they wanted to make sure you don't try anything funny. After discovering Thomas is likely a criminal, the game becomes much more linear, with red vines stopping you from fully exploring.
  • Rain of Blood
  • Red Herring
    • During the very beginning of the game, York casually mentions being scratched by a hysterical woman. This is to cause you to assume that the townsfolk are simply spreading rumors over the little mark on your cheek, when in fact they're talking about the much more dramatic scar sported by Zach.
    • At one point Michael blocks you from getting to Harry while doing the RK's trademark finger-wag, while the killer's theme plays. It has no relevance whatsoever.
    • Another big one would be The General. He asks you to visit him so he can tell you about the story of the Raincoat Killer, and he's one of the few people in town who's old enough to have been around during the incident. In fact, being a solider, he was likely standing on that clock tower gassing the town with the others. Instead, when you get to him, he just tells you war stories from 'nam.
  • Respawning Enemies: A few missions have sections where one or two enemies respawn endlessly until you complete some task or just leave the area. Ranges from frustrating to just puzzling (with the exception of the very first mission, which turns it into That One Level due to the amount of frustration it introduces to someone unfamiliar with the rest of the game)
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Michael Tillotson often speaks this way. Why he does this, who's to say? So says Mr. Stewart.
    • He'll stop rhyming when York does something incredibly shocking like, oh, reading Michael's diary and then fessing up to it.
  • Room Full of Crazy: George's basement, complete with a Stalker Shrine dedicated to Emily.
    • And what's in the room next door to top the icing on the cake?
  • Running Gag: Emily's cooking and York's bizarre smoking habits, among others.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Harry.
  • Sequel Hook: Considering the fact that Willie (who is from the Red World) is still around, and the fact there's more than just one town with red trees. Swery has also confirmed he's making a sequel.
    • Don't forget that Swery said that there are "other agents of the Red Tree" like Kaysen....
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Emily, who is apparently already a goddess of the forest.
  • Shout-Out:
    • York name-drops many old movies and bands during his car rides with Zach.
    • The whole game is a big one to Twin Peaks.
    • Psycho gets a good one when York finds George's dead mother in the basement.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The monkeys-for-squirrels sound effect mentioned above notwithstanding, this game does get a lot of visual details for Smalltown, USA right. One of the post-game bonuses is looking at all the photographs the developers took of rural US areas to get the right appearance for diners, streets, people and so on.
    • York is a secondary personality created to protect Zach from psychological harm during a childhood incident. This is, in fact, one of the only reasons split personalities are developed in Real Life.
      • While that is true, it goes back into Did Not Do the Research, as people with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) cannot communicate directly with their other personalities; but this is the entire premise between Zach and York.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Done numerous times by York in the following end game sequences preceding major boss battles.
  • Single Tear: Zach drops one near the ending.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • Serial killers? Gruesome murders? Time for wacky whistling!
    • During the flashback sequence where you play as the original Raincoat Killer, the song that plays during the scene of utter madness and carnage is Amazing Grace.
  • Smoking Is Cool:
    • And it makes time fly!
    • York's chain-smoking is a Running Gag, and characters around him cough in annoyance the first time he does it.
    • On the other hand, Zach doesn't smoke.
  • Split Personality: York, which is to say that he's Zach's. Unlike most Split Personalities in fiction, this one actually was developed for reasons that are tenable in psychology: taking on another identity to spare yourself from trauma.
  • Sprint Meter:
    • Used for exhaustion, holding your breath and blaring a police siren(?!)
    • It also rises when you're looking in people's windows. Its so slow, however, that most people aren't aware of it.
  • Stalker Shrine: George has an Emily one in his basement.
  • Stalker with a Crush: George is a little bit too obsessed with Emily.
  • Stripperiffic: Gina's outfit.
  • Supreme Chef:
    • Thomas, whose biscuits are considered absolutely amazing. They're also the best healing/restorative item in the game, hands down. York is very particular about his biscuits, he'll have you know.
    • Nick Cormack. According to Emily, he's the real deal and no visit to Greenvale is complete without a visit to the A & G Diner
  • Take Your Time:
    • Play darts, go fishing, stare into coffee, and do whatever. Just remember to get back to the investigation at some point. Amusingly, though, if you're driving with the local law enforcement, they expect you to go straight to the next plot point and if you fail to do so, they give York a severe tongue-lashing while York basically shrugs and says "I had stuff to do."
    • You have the ability to sleep in some of the dungeons in the game, which is a cost-effective way of restoring your health, and you'll usually see an infinite supply of lolipops nearby to keep yourself from going hungry. Time is meaningless in the Dark World, however, as you can see from your clock and the "clean time" on your suits. For people who aren't in the Dark World, it probably appears that York is just gone for a few minutes.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: You control a few characters other than York a few times in the game. If you open up the menu and try to look at his Profiling movies, they're filled with static. Only York can visualize what happened!
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill
  • Through the Eyes of Madness:
    • One possible explanation for York's travels through the nightmare world.
    • Also applies to the townsfolk of the past and the original Raincoat Killer who, affected by the purple fog, most likely saw each other as horrible monsters and were driven to slaughter.
    • After the reveal that York is Zach's split personality and not the other way around, the townsfolk all call him Zach, as if it had always been that way. Not to mention the constant references to a very large scar, which York doesn't have, but Zack does.
  • Together in Death: York and Emily
  • Tomato in the Mirror: York's the alter persona of Zach, not the other way around.
  • Too Clever by Half: York. It doesn't win him any points.
  • Too Much Information: Emily asks York about older cases he's worked on. He gladly details a particular case in which a serial killer finds... practical uses for human skulls. Great dinner conversation!
  • Town with a Dark Secret: In the past Greenvale was the site for government experiments that drove the townsfolk into murderous frenzies.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for the U.S. release flashes the identities of several victims as well as the endgame bosses and Big Bad.
  • Twist Ending: York is the imaginary friend. You've been playing as Agent Francis Zach Morgan. To be precise, you were playing as York. York simply happens to not have been the original personality.
  • Unflinching Walk: Zach turns around and walks away as the monstrous Kaysen explodes into chunky meaty gibs.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Near the end of the game, you discover that not only has he been introducing himself as Francis Zach Morgan all this time, but he doesn't look like we thought he did. This explains why the townsfolk think Zach's scar is a big deal, when York seems to have only a few small cuts.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: York can hold his breath to temporarily become invisible to the enemies. This slows his walking speed and makes his stamina meter run out, and there's not a lot of situations that call for stealth in the first place, so you will most likely forget about this option after it's introduced.
  • Unwilling Suspension:
    • Becky in her own bathroom above the shower.
    • Diane in the Muses Gallery above a very pointy sculpture.
  • Vanity License Plate: All of the named townsfolk have these on their vehicles.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can attack, or at most threaten the civilians of Greenvale, with violence.
  • Villain Episode: Near the end of Episode 6 you get to play as the original Raincoat Killer, axe and all.
  • Villainous Breakdown: George and Kaysen, both in awe that a mere human was able to bring them down.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: Thomas. Partially subverted in that Thomas is no more a villain than any of the other women in A-D, and is explicitly classed with them at several points in the story.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: York can change suits at any time; however, the longer he continues to wear a suit, the dirtier it becomes to the point of attracting flies.
  • The Voiceless: Mr. Stewart speaks only through his aide, Michael Tillotson. Later on he'll decide to drop it and speak directly to York himself.
  • Vomiting Cop: Thomas barfs in the toilet after Becky is found out to be dead. When the results screen comes up, a still shot of it is shown.
  • Warp Whistle: The radio obtained from one of the quests which lets York travel to any previously visited locations
  • Wasted Song: "Pillow Stain", which was in the original "Rainy Woods" trailer, can be heard nowhere else in the game but Thomas's apartment and in the Sound Test.
  • We Could Have Avoided All This: During the epilogue, Harry muses that he could have prevented the murders if he had had the will to stop his psychotic wife from abusing George.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: York's reaction to trying out the "Sinner's Sandwich".
  • Wide Open Sandbox
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic:
    • The first two victims are found in a crucified pose.
    • The upside-down peace sign.
    • Both of these are actually Red Herrings, believe it or not. The poses the victims are in and the signs are supposed to be trees.
    • The usage of Amazing Freaking Grace in the infamous scene near the end. When you go by the original religious intent of the song (that no one is beyond redemption, regardless of their sins in life, and that we all are able to do the right thing) and what the character is trying to do: get to the clocktower and stop the gas, according to the director.
  • Wham! Episode: Episode 6 in general, but Chapter 25 especially.
  • Wham! Line: "When the time comes and you have to make that decision, make the right one. OK, Zach?" It's even printed in giant letters that are about five times larger than the rest of the dialogue in the entire game.
  • Widget Series
  • Wild Wilderness: The outskirts of town near the railroad tracks, the two large empty forest trails, and the random location of the town it's self count.