The Swan Princess and the Dire Tree is the eleventh installment in the Dark Parables franchise. The game takes place on the fictional Dire Island, home of the Swan Kingdom. As the Fairytale Detective, we are summoned to the island to retrieve a Magic Seed that has been stolen by a former member of the Swan Guard. Once we do so, events take a rather sinister turn.
Detective, you've been called to the Kingdom of Dire Island to investigate a mysterious series of cracks appearing throughout the land. The phenomenon is related to the disappearance of the magic seed, which holds the key to reviving the Goddess Flora, who keeps nature in balance. The prime suspect for the theft is a high-ranking member of the Swan Guard. Be careful, Detective. They all swore to put the safety of Dire Island and its people above their own lives.
WARNING: This section contains massive spoilers! (Read at your own risk)
The game opens on the magnificent Dire Tree of Dire Island. The camera pans out to reveal a dark, hooded figure watching it from a faraway cliff. The figure suddenly drops down and begins running towards the tree. It jumps from branch to branch until it reaches the top where a glowing seed with wings hovers. No sooner does the figure take the seed then an off-screen voice calls out "Who's there?" The figure flees by jumping from a branch and turning into a black swan. As the swan flies away, we see two armored figures observing cracks appearing in the ground around the Dire Tree.
We're dispatched to the location as the Fairytale Detective and given our briefing (see above). As it concludes, we get a brief glimpse of a couple talking in front of us before the ground begins to shake and a huge crack appears in the road. The woman quickly turns into a swan and flies away but the man begins to fall. As usual, we are thrown from our horse, but (in a first) the horse does not flee.
The man calls for our help before falling deeper into the crack. With some assistance from our horse, we pull the man out and he introduces himself as Desmond McBride, master tailor of the highest order. He has apparently been summoned by the Swan Princess to fix the cracks and, after a brief demonstration, we see he is indeed suitable for the job. After fixing the scouting device, we begin the ride to the Dire Tree with Desmond as our travel companion.
An hour later, we arrive and are immediately introduced to the Swan Princess Elise, looking regal on a giant stag. She advises Desmond to immediately get to work on the cracks and informs us that the magic seed thief, known as the Black Swan, is currently hiding in the swamp. Elise gives us the Black Swan's loyalty talisman and claims that she believes that we won't fail her in retrieving the magic seed and catching the traitor. When we travel to the swamps, we get a brief glimpse of something big and hairy ...
Journeying through the swamps, we see the Black Swan creating another crack in the ground before hiding behind a magic door in the waterfall. We decided to cross over with a leaning tree, but cannot because we don't have anything to cut it with. However, when we head back to the swamps, a giant spider jumps down in front of us! Fortunately, before it can done harm (other than giving us a jump scare), the master tailor destroys it. He tells us that we're even now and to be careful.
Using a spider sickle to cut the webs bonding the leaning tree, we finally enter the Black Swan's hideout. Looking around, we are surprised to see the turncloak still keeps her Swan Guard armor and a diary reveals she has had a series of dreams that appear to have inspired her decision to steal the seed. One of the dreams was apparently about the coming of a man with a flaming sword, Desmond and finally ourself. (A flaming sword, now that sounds very familiar ...)
We find the magic seed in a sealed box and release it, although its light blinds us for a moment. When we come to our senses, the Black Swan is pointing a spear at us and demanding to know why we are here. She is taken aback when she realizes that we were the one in her dreams. When the Black Swan is distracted by the magic seed, we use the loyalty talisman which causes her to fall. The magic seed seems to trust us and we prepare to take it to the Swan Princess.
Arriving at the Swan Palace, the Swan Princess is relieved at the return of the magic seed and announces that the ceremony can begin. Wow, that was a quick investigation.
As flowers begin to bloom in the throne room, the goddess Flora appears in full form to receive the magic seed. The Swan Princess kneels before the goddess and announces, "I have one final gift for you". Before we can blink, Elise draws the Shattering Sword and stabs the goddess in the gut! The goddess warns that the price for this treason will be high before she turns into a dead tree. The Swan Princess picks up Flora's crown and smirks in triumph as she crowns herself the new nature goddess. But as roots begin to cover some of her face, she frowns when she realizes the magic seed is flying away and fails to catch it.
Without the magic seed, mixed with the high price, the Swan Princess doesn't have control over her newly gained powers, leading her to become corrupted. As she lets out a scream, the Black Swan appears and Elise attacks us. We get knocked down, but thankfully, the Black Swan helps us back on our feet.
Our newly found ally laments over the fact that the goddess is dead and explains that she took the seed to save her. However, she believes that someone can help them and asks us to meet her by the lake so she can explain more. When we arrive at the lake, the Black Swan explains that there is a prisoner underneath the waters - he was there because the Swan Princess accused the man as a traitor and had him imprisoned just as he arrived from Floralia (now would be a really good time to connect the dots). However, the Black Swan believes that the man is innocent since he only wished to protect the goddess.
Descending under the lake, we find a statue of Flora with a swan whose wings blocked off the doors. We learn from the Black Swan that because she disobeyed the Swan Princess's orders she was declared a traitor and became the Black Swan. With a little tinkering, we get the mechanism working again and enter the prison wing but discover it's not going to be easy getting to the prisoner.
With a lot toing and froing, we finally disable the traps and enter the prison cell ... and there we find Prince Ross Red chained up! But we surprisingly don't recognize him (seriously, did we take stupid pills this morning? Or bump our head when we got thrown off by the horse?). We are not the only one having memory problems it appears as Ross claims he doesn't remember anything, not even us. We release Ross from his chains and take the force crystal that has been keeping him weak, but as the Black Swan arrives to lend a hand she informs us that the Swan Princess is on a rampage through the city!
Reaching the top of the lake again, we get a brief moment of respite before the now insane, part-plant Swan Princess appears. She declares that we kneel before her or be destroyed, but we don't yield. She tries to suufocate us with her vines but using the Force Crystal, we force her to retreat, giving us some time.
We, along with the Black Swan, take Ross to her hideout. There, the Black Swan tells us to summon the Druid for her help and give us her staff. When we return the staff to the statue of the Druid, her hut lowers a ladder for us to get in. When we enter, we find a garden with many herbs and plants. Eventually, we manage to summon the Druid, who gives us a recipe to create a memory potion before disappearing.
After looking around many areas to get the ingredients we need, we manage to make a memory potion for Ross. Going back to the hideout, we give Ross some of the potion to drink. He regains his memories as he wakes up, but the Swan Princess has to interrupt by capturing the Black Swan. She tells us to get Ross inside before she was taken.
Inside the hideout, Ross fully regains his memories and explains how he got captured by the Swan Princess. He took us that we needed to get to the Swan Archives. Only Flow, the man of stone, could help us. We were able to summon him and with Ross' help, Flow gave us access to the Swan Archives. Ross was the first to get ahead of us (it looks like he hasn't forgotten his rash behavior). The destination we headed to was the tombs of the Swan Princesses. However, we needed to know which tomb to open.
After searching around the area, we find a scroll but it is written in a different language. Fortunately, Ross is able to translate the old Swan language and reads out clues so we can find the right tomb to open. We opened the middle tomb to found the armor of the former Swan Princess.
Thus, Fairytale Detective, Black Swan and Ross Red defeated the monstrosity that Elise had become and revived Flora. The corruption wrought on the Dire Tree was healed. Its canopy was once again crowned with green, its withering branches sprang life anew.
Yet, deep in the earth the roots of the Dire Tree still bear the scars. They will serve as a reminder of what becomes when balance is disturbed, even by those with noble intentions.
As the Fairytale Detective was leaving the shores of the Island, she received an invitation to the royal wedding. And thus, she prepared herself for another trek to the Swiss Alps.
Uprise of the Swan
Once there lived on Dire Island a child called Elise. Her childhood was peaceful and happy, her days were spent wandering and exploring under the great canopy of the Dire Tree. This harmony, however, was broken in a heartbeat. The gates of the Kingdom opened and the Swan Guard rushed in. They carried the bodies of Elise's parents... Their armor and flesh battered by vicious claws... their life - expunged. In one stroke, fate left Elise an orphan. Sorrow almost drove the child to madness, but all was not lost. The Guards themselves adopted her as kin, and offered solace and companionship as her new family. Elise found new purpose as a member of the Guard. She excelled in all of their disciplines - from combat to lore - and became the exemplar of service and duty. Thus, she was exalted to the highest rank: Swan Princess. She presided over the Guard like a loving mother. Yet the thought of every soldier who'd fallen while in the service of the Goddess Flora brought her sadness and opened old wounds. As soldier after soldier perished in the name of their dispassionate Goddess, Elise concluded that something had to be done.
At one time long ago, children's laughter could be heard throughout Dire Island, much more so than today. Their favorite game to play was one where each child would pretend to be their favorite Swan Princess. "I'll be Priscilla" said one girl, "because she was the fairest of them all!" Another girl chimed in, "I choose Ethel, because her music still echoes throughout the land." After the other children had named their favorite Princesses, one raven-haired girl spoke softly but with conviction: "I want to be like Odette, pure and true to myself." The children stared at her in shock, as even the mention of the exiled Princess was forbidden. The girl was called Odile, and she grew up to become a member of the Swan Guard, in spite of her problems with authority. She was known for doing things her own way, and getting away with it. In time, a rumor spread throughout the kingdom that a man had been imprisoned by the Swan Princess. Any contact with the prisoner was strictly forbidden, but Odile's curiosity got the better of her. She quickly befriended the prisoner, and from him she found out that Flora was in grave danger. Odile decided to steal the magic seed and stop the plot against the Goddess. In response, the Swan Princess declared her an enemy of the kingdom, and Odile was transformed into a Black Swan, just like Odette before her.
The First Tree
Long before our time, the Goddess Flora planted the very first tree on an island that would later become the Swan Kingdom. From this tree, the roots spread throughout the whole planet, linking every plant to a central lifeforce. Flora soon realized that the tree could not defend itself against the dangers of the world, so she created the Swan Guard to protect the Dire Tree with their lives. In gratitude, every year the Dire Tree produces a magical seed with the power to rejuvenate Flora in a ritual of rebirth. Ross Red, one of the Guardians of the Goddess, was tasked with supervising the annual ritual, from the birth of the seed until the full rejuvenation of the Goddess. At one such ceremony, while everyone was looking at the Goddess, one pair of eyes remained focused on Ross Red's Weapon, known as the Shattering Sword. Little did Ross Red know of Swan Princess' plans to destroy the Goddess, for which she needed his weapon.
A Dark Dream
Long ago, when the Black Swan was still white and a member of the Swan Guard, she met a strange woman deep in the forest. The woman could not speak, yet the Black Swan could understand exactly what the woman wanted. As mutely requested, the Black Swan saved the woman's owl from one of the traps set-up for the magic seeds. In return, the old woman gave the Black Swan a staff and a potion, saying, "These will help you prepare for things to come," then suddenly disappeared. Odile drank the potion, and that night she dreamt of a disaster that threatened the Swan Kingdom. The vision was so vivid Odile had no doubt the danger was real. She could see the Dire Tree on its deathbed, with huge cracks splintering the earth around it. She saw a Swan transforming into a tree. Horrid dreams disturbed her sleep all night, showing her many things and yet none at all. When Odile awoke she seemed a different person, suddenly caring nothing for the duties of the Swan Guard. As she knew very well from her dream, the danger to her homeland was lurking on the inside.
The Jewel of Repose
At the far outskirts of what once was the Kingdom of Floralia, there lived a very poor family. The father took pride in the one precious thing he had: a jewel he had found when he was a boy. One windy night, a strange visitor came to the poor family's home. The riches she had to offer in exchange for the father's jewel changed their circumstances forever. They never came to realize they'd conversed with a Princess, or that they'd parted with the Jewel of Repose. The Swan Princess had long coveted the jewel, one of the three legendary artifacts of Floralia. Now the Princess set her sights on the two artifacts that were owned by Ross Red and the Master Tailor. The Swan Princess still mourned her parents and the other victims of conflict. "What kind of a Goddess lets her people die in vain?" asked the Swan Princess. "I shall be a different kind of Goddess, the one that cares for her people!" But to become a Goddess, she had to destroy Flora. And to do that, she needed Flora's creation: the three Artifacts of Floralia.
- Teasers for this game were first found at the end of Goldilocks and the Fallen Star, in the form of a Swan-based lock and mention of a mysterious message received by the Detective with a feather attached. Also included in the tenth game was a wallpaper depicting a swan and a moonlit lake.
- Goddess Flora reappears in this game in her adult form.
- Ross Red also reappears in this game.
- We learn that the Swan Lake Princess is actually Princess Odette, who was exiled from Dire Island for wanting to marry the Frog Prince.
- One of the items on the Swamp Duty requisition list is an hourglass, which were featured in Queen of Sands.
- Like its predecessor Goldilocks and the Fallen Star, the game is set in a fictional place. It is likely intended to take place in Ireland, given the many uses of Celtic knots and the introduction of a Druid.
- This is the first Dark Parables game to feature a horse that does not abandon the Fairytale Detective at the beginning of the game. Oddly enough, Eipix were made aware of the inside joke of the runaway horses before the release of this game, and decided to do away with the trend. But brought it back the next game where it's remaining.
- The Fairytale Detective has been assumed to be female since the bonus novel included with Curse of Briar Rose referred to her as such, but this is the first game to refer to the Detective as female within the main game itself.
- This game has a game-breaking glitch. If a person fixes the monster in the Tailor's Tent before collecting the glue and/or fixing the swan figurine and then leaves, the tent will close and there is no way to reopen it.
Voice Actors Edit
Tape Recorder: Lauren Synger
Tailor: Bill Corkery
Swan Princess: Lauren Synger
Gate Guardian: Si Hawk
Black Swan: Laila Berzius
Goddess Flora: Mary Morgan
Ross Red: Erik Braa
Druid: Jodi Lorimer
Flow: Si Hawk
Court Counselor: Jason Miller
Ewan the Craftsman: Tim Simmons
Frog Prince: Jonathan Cooke
Special Thanks Edit
Dear Fairytale Detective, we wish to congratulate you on a magical world saved yet again. Your commitment and resourcefulness are an inspiration to us all. Enjoy your well-earned vacation. We wish we could say it will last for long, but we're afraid that may not be the case. After all, the life of a Fairytale Detective is rarely dull and uneventful. ;)