Title:

  • Façade

Genre:

  • Interactive Fiction

Developer:

  • Procedural Arts

Publisher:

  • Procedural Arts

Release Date:

  • July 5, 2005

System(s):

  • Windows, Mac

Systems Used:

  • Windows running on MacBook

On Wikipedia:

It's fair to say in the last five years, I've played a ton of games of all different types. None of them have been quite like Façade. That is not a compliment.

When it was released in 2005, Façade received a ton of awards because it was a unique game--you can play as a third party and talk between two people, creating a new script of how it plays out. In this case, you're a mutual friend of Grace and Trip, whose marriage is rapidly deteriorating, and it's up to you to sort it out.

The biggest problem, of course, in an effort to make Trip and Grace have their own views and ideals to round them out as human characters. The problem is that Trip and Grace are so poorly written that they become self-absorbed yuppies who are completely unlikable, which, while believable in some aspects, isn't endearing. You aren't given much in the way of what attracted these two jerks together, with the only indication that the player-character introduced them to each other.

The second biggest problem is that the parser isn't actually robust as you (and the creators) hoped, so the whole thing ends up being a bit like using a bizarre version of ELIZA, except in this case they'll quit before you do.

Lesser problems include the fact that the player names aren't very robust at all. Despite the fact that names are obviously spliced in voices and obviously spliced in, you'll be hard pressed to find a name that is actually your own unless you were lucky. There's just about 100 names split between men and women (it makes a difference as to who you play--kissing Trip as a woman would get a significantly different reaction than as a man).

The graphics are another huge problem (you'll see it at the official site, or the playthroughs below), which is partially why I left out an image for this one. It's understandable that it was written on an indie budget in 2005, but that still doesn't forgive the fact that the graphics are hideous (Grace and Trip are untextured traced-over line drawings: they're ugly, but they match their personality). The traced-over line drawings don't mesh well with blurry photographs either.

It's a thoroughly unpleasant game, and it doesn't take long into the game before Trip and Grace start getting into arguments (in fact, they're arguing before the player-character enters the apartment). I was surprised that Trip even broke into some uncensored swearing that would've easily (if this was a movie) gotten Façade an R rating.

In fact, the best part of the game is playing as someone not as yourself, or just playing around. See what happens if you bring up the word "melons" in any context. Try answering the door with "Have you heard the Good News?". There's one on YouTube that sadly I can't find where someone acted like an total jerk spouting off nonsense, then somehow winning the game. Despite being able to hug or kiss both, your limited text parser will never be enough to seduce one (or both!) of them into being in bed with you.

The game takes a long time to load even for modern computers and it requires a full reset if you lose, so even firing it up for fun stuff wears thin quickly. The hefty size of the game as well will probably have you lose interest and remove it from your hard drive.

So is it worth it for you? That's hard to say. It has a lot of problems, but it is free. Install, give it a spin, and toss it as soon as you're done. In fact, there's a chance you've already done that since the game was released some 8 years ago.

November 16 2013 (Update October 13 2015)

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