Dark Fall: Lost Souls is a 2009 first-person psychological horror/adventure game developed by British studio Darkling Room and published by Iceberg Interactive for Microsoft Windows. It was first released for download via Steam and Darkling Room's official website in November 2009. It was subsequently released for retail in Europe in January 2010, and in North America in April. Lost Souls is the third game in the Dark Fall series, following Dark Fall (2002) and Dark Fall II: Lights Out (2004). It tells a story relatively unrelated to either, although it is set in the same location and features several of the supporting characters from the first game.
Lost Souls tells the story of The Inspector, a disgraced former police officer who has never been able to forget the last case on which he worked; the disappearance of an eleven-year-old girl named Amy Haven from the town of Dowerton, Dorset. The Inspector was convinced a vagrant named Mr. Bones had killed Amy, but was unable to prove it, and so planted evidence. However, the local newspaper discovered his ruse, and the case against Bones fell apart. He was released, and Amy's trail went cold. Her parents subsequently blamed The Inspector for the police's failure to find her, and he was fired. Now, on the fifth anniversary of her disappearance, he has come to the abandoned ruins of Dowerton train station and hotel after local children reported seeing Amy in the vicinity.
Lost Souls did not receive a great deal of attention in the mainstream gaming press, with limited coverage from professional critics. However, what reviews it did receive were mainly positive, with critics praising the atmosphere, plot and sound design, and most finding it the scariest game in the Dark Fall series. The most common criticism was that some of the puzzles were too obscure.
Lost Souls is a first-person psychological horror/adventure game, which employs a simple HUD. A bar at the bottom of the screen serves as the inventory, storing items which the player has acquired during the game. The bar also allows access to The Inspector's mobile phone, from which the player can save their game, quit their game, or load a previously saved game. The mobile phone also allows the player to illuminate dark areas using the phone's flashlight, read any text messages received by The Inspector during the game, change the difficulty level, and turn on and off subtitles.
The game uses a basic point-and-click interface to move the player around and manipulate the game world. As the player moves the cursor around the screen it can change into different styles depending on the situation; neutral cursor (no interaction is possible), a hand (an item with which the player can interact), a finger (the player can move, turn or look in the direction indicated), a wrench (the player must use an inventory item to initiate interaction), a magnifying glass (an area which can be examined in more detail).
Much of the gameplay is based around solving puzzles. However, unlike most modern adventure games, Lost Souls does not keep note of any information or clues acquired by the player (for example, notes found by the player are not entered into the inventory, and documents read by the player are not recorded in any way). This forces the player to keep track of every clue and detail themselves. If the player wishes to recheck a document, they must find it and re-read it.
The game is set in the same abandoned train station and hotel in Dowerton, Dorset as the first Dark Fall game, and takes place on the night of November 5. The protagonist of the game is "The Inspector", a disgraced former police officer who was dismissed from the force after tampering with evidence in the case of a missing eleven-year-old girl, Amy Haven. The Inspector was convinced a local vagrant known as Mr. Bones had killed Amy, but was unable to prove it, and so planted evidence. The local newspaper broke the story, the case against Bones fell apart, and Amy's trail went cold, with her parents blaming The Inspector for the police's failure to find her. It is now five years to the day since Amy went missing, and The Inspector has come to Dowerton Station after local teenagers reported seeing Amy in the vicinity.
The game begins in a train tunnel as The Inspector receives a text message from "Echo" telling him "You are not alone. I am near." The Inspector finds a note written by Mr. Bones saying he wishes he knew where Amy was, as she was his only friend. As he explores the tunnel, he thinks he hears a train coming, despite the tunnel being blocked off. He panics, faints, and awakens near the train station. Inside, he sees the ghost of both the station master and, subsequently, Amy herself. He then gets a phone call from Amy, who asks him to come to her birthday party on the top floor, which will be attended by her "sisters."
As he explores the station, he finds various newspaper clippings revealing teen crime in the area is at an all-time high, with teenagers practising satanic rituals ever since Amy disappeared, claiming they are doing so at her behest. Amy herself had been expelled from school for her mood swings and what was perceived as an unhealthy interest in the occult. The Inspector also finds a letter that indicates Amy and Mr. Bones were attempting to communicate with the dead. In the hotel, The Inspector sees his own name in the guestbook, accompanied by a note saying that he will be staying for "a very long time."
In a room in the hotel, he sees a "Shadowkin" crawl out from the floor and attempt to attack him. He has a flash of an operating theater, with a doctor exclaiming "We're losing him," before seeing his interrogation of Bones playing on a TV. During the interrogation, Bones says Amy is in a better place, and is with her "angels" now, who came to her "in a dark light." The Inspector encounters several more Shadowkins, and continues to get text messages from Echo. It soon becomes apparent the messages from Echo are helping The Inspector, pointing him in the right direction.
As he explores, he encounters several souls trapped in the hotel. To free the guests, The Inspector must perform a task for them, and kill the "Life Leech" keeping them imprisoned. If The Inspector touches a Leech directly, he has a series of flashes of a drug overdose. Once each spirit has been freed, they give The Inspector a valuable item, and offer him advice. One warns him Amy is "darkness itself." Another tells him Amy and her "sisters" are evil, and warns him to "beware the Dark Fall." Eventually, The Inspector finds a skeleton in a water tower; that of John Lovell, the gardener at Amy's school. Lovell is actually the real name of Mr. Bones.