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Volume 8, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Experimental game proves quality's 
not dependent on cost

By Elly Saleeba
Breaking News

Free games do exist -- some of them are good, and some are weird. Facade is a little of both. Touted as an interactive one-part play, Facade is an experimental game similar to an old school text adventure meets the Sims.

Trip and Grace, a troubled 30-something married couple, are the main characters. After you pick a name and gender, the game fades in and you're standing in front of the couple's home, where you hear them arguing. The game starts as Trip and Grace meet you at the front door. They are excited to meet you and welcome you to the apartment. 

From there you can talk with them by typing what you want to say, and they'll react. Their dialogue is all spoken.

The couple is nice enough, but once you're in the door your character is free to do just about anything until they throw you out of the apartment. The game itself allows you to interact with anything in the minimally decorated apartment -- answering the phone, playing the piano, trashing the place or doing whatever comes to mind.

The game's art style is sparse, using simple 3D and cell shading to give the game a Williams Street cartoon look. But the graphics are only there to serve the drama. Trip and Grace have facial expressions, interrupt each other and act like a stressed-out couple. 

A typical game lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, and you can save your created scripts to share with others. The community aspect of the game is half the fun, as people share their mini dramas and show each other how to make the characters act certain ways by opening up subjects and new plots.

The main problem with the game itself is that the characters sometimes trip over certain words and phrases. While the game can handle phrases and sentences better than any old text adventure game, its vocabulary and understanding is limited.

Another problem is the game's technical requirements -- 800 megabytes of free space and a 1.6 GHz processor. While the file size might be typical for a game, it is mainly available via download, and even on a broadband connection it is a cumbersome file. The processor requirement can be ignored if you hold the "shift" and "F12" keys while the game launches. 

The game provides a unique experience, especially for gamers who liked the Sims and wanted something more than gibberish and home building. Check it out at www.interactivestory.net for free.



Facade

Download at: www.interactivestory.net

Verdict: Facade is worth the lengthy download.

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