Lost Souls: Ghost Stories

Another repeated pattern in Dark Fall: Lost Souls comes to the fore in the later parts. Or not so much a pattern as a ritual, a multi-stage process for laying ghosts to rest.

It starts with a text message from the mysterious stranger who goes by the name “Echo”, telling you that a new guest has checked into the hotel. After procuring a formerly-absent key from the lobby, you go to their room, where you can move back and forth between 2010 and (a vision of) 1947. The disembodied voice of the person who stayed in that room talks to you while you’re there, commenting on things you examine, in both time periods. (There’s some unfortunately conspicuous reuse of lines.) Ultimately, you have to find three specific items of importance to that person, no more and no less, and put them onto a table or other surface in the present. Now, at this point I’m just doing what the UI lets me. Only certain indicated spots can have items used on them, and only the specific items they require will do anything, so when you find a table that can have items put on it, it’s not hard to find out by experiment out what it’s willing to receive. But if there’s an in-fiction justification for the Inspector knowing what to do, I’ve missed it.

Once the items are in place, you can have an actual conversation with the ghost, in the course of which you will be prompted to remind them of details of their backstory that you learned over the course of snooping around the room. This fits into the theme of recovering memories: you’re giving the ghosts exactly the kind of help that the Inspector himself needs, because they’re all in basically the same position as you. I said before that the whole game seems to be a dream that the Inspector is having in a hospital after a suicide attempt. All the ghosts in the hotel are suicides.

The ghosts are kind of hard to reconcile with the dream business, though. They’re largely the same ghosts as in Dark Fall: The Journal, and there’s information about them here that the Inspector could not possibly have known. For example, one of them was secretly an infamous bank robber known as Sly Fox. In The Journal, you could find her loot stashed under the floorboards. In Lost Souls, it’s still there. As I’ve said about other games, it might be a dream, but it’s clearly not just a dream.

Now, the game is kind of subtle about communicating this, but: helping the ghosts seems to work by actually altering history. It’s like your final conversation after placing the three objects isn’t really with a ghost, but across time, with a living person, who you talk out of suicide. Well, it’s hardly the first time I’ve altered the past in a Dark Fall game. It just usually happens all at once at the game’s end, not piecemeal throughout. It seems likely that the Inspector is headed for the same conclusion, reaching into his own past to prevent his own suicide. Maybe he’ll even talk to himself and fill in his own backstory. We’ll see.

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