Game Over Online ~ Fašade

GameOver Game Reviews - Fašade (c) Procedural Arts, Reviewed by - Steven Carter

Game & Publisher Fašade (c) Procedural Arts
System Requirements Windows XP, 1.6GHz processor, 256MB RAM, video card supporting OpenGL, 1GB HDD
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Wednesday, July 27th, 2005 at 11:49 AM

Divider Left By: Steven Carter Divider Right

Fašade is billed as a “one-act interactive drama.” That description is accurate. Fašade isn’t really a game, although it shares some similarities with text adventures; it’s more like a psychology experiment, as what you say and do in the game affects whether a married couple stays together or splits up. Fašade is also free to download from, and so the focus of my review is going to be a little different than normal. I’m not going to try and compare Fašade to other games, since that’s not what it’s trying to be. Instead, I’m mostly just going to describe the game so you can decide whether it’s worth the time to download it -- it’s 781 MB -- and play it.

In Fašade, you play an old friend to married couple Trip and Grace. The game opens up with Trip calling you and inviting you over, and then once you’ve chosen a name (from a list of about 100 possibilities), you find yourself outside the front door to the unhappy couple’s apartment. You can hear them arguing about wineglasses as you approach, and that’s just a sign of things to come.

Once inside the apartment, you can interact with Trip and Grace by typing (to talk to them), by using the mouse (to pick things up), and by using the arrow keys (to move around). However, the apartment only has two rooms, one of which you never really use, and there aren’t many objects to play with, and so mostly all you have to do is type. The action takes place in real time, and Trip and Grace usually give you a few seconds to respond to what they say, but if you’re not much of a typist, then you probably won’t get very far in the game.

Despite having a fairly simplistic graphics engine, Fašade does a nice job in bringing Trip and Grace to life. Their eyes, eyebrows, and lips all move, and their expressions match what they’re thinking. They also change their posture and move closer or farther away from each other, and so it’s easy to sense the mood of the room. If Trip and Grace are frowning, and if you can’t position the camera to get them both on screen at the same time, then you’re probably not doing very well.

Somewhat surprisingly, the voice acting is also very well done. I’m not sure if professionals were hired for the roles, but Trip and Grace sound just like a bickering couple, and they don’t have any problem bringing the dialogue to life. Better yet, the things that they talk about are believable. For example, early in the evening Trip might point to a picture from their recent trip to Italy, but then you’ll learn how Grace didn’t like the trip, how she wasn’t included in the planning of the trip, and how she considers the trip to be just another example of Trip being a control freak.

At another point, Trip might offer you a complicated drink (like a margarita), only to have Grace counter by offering you a simple drink (like a beer). The object of the game is to talk to the couple and get them to realize that they really do still love each other, but how can you do that when even the simplest of topics forces you to choose sides between them (the drinks), or leads to a reason why they hate each other (the Italy trip)?

Obviously, finding a solution is no easy thing. The problem I had with the game is that after playing it a few times, I never found the solution or even figured out if I was getting close. Worse, I couldn’t tell if the game really understood much of what I was typing. It seemed to pick up on words like “how” and “what” and “Italy,” but the one time I tried to delve into the Italy trip, I got cut off, and Trip suddenly demanded to know why I thought he was depressed. Possibly Fašade just suffers from the same problems as most text adventures, where you not only have to realize what the answer is but also how to type it, but I was pretty much stymied after my attempts at playing the game, and I had no idea what a solid plan of attack might be.

And so Fašade was a little frustrating to play, simply because I couldn’t tell if I was making an impact or not. It probably didn’t help that each run through the game only takes 15-20 minutes, and so it took me about 20 times longer to download it than to play it. Still, it’s hard to argue when the game is free. I wouldn’t really recommend Fašade to anybody like me who is stuck using dial-up, but if you have a broadband connection, and if the topic sounds interesting, then knock yourself out. Trip and Grace certainly need the help.

(25/40) Gameplay
(11/15) Graphics
(13/15) Sound
(07/10) Interface
(08/10) Campaign
(03/05) Technical
(03/05) Documentation


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