AI-based interactive story
Facade is a free AI game in which the player has to solve the marital issues of a couple. Responses are entirely up to the player as the software has within it a powerful reactive AI. This factor allows you to type in whatever you want to say. The game ends with the marriage either being fixed or a spike in tension, which leads to the ending.
Mateas and Stern developed Facade back in 2005. At the time, the game was revolutionary and, to this day, remains one of the few narratives with this level of freedom of choice. Facade garnered the Grand Jury Prize and was a finalist in the Independent Game Festival.
Unfortunately, the game has not aged well graphically with a lackluster design. Even so, it remains a popular game as it recently has had life breathed into it. On Youtube, it became popular to play through it for a time, building its popularity.
The surge in popularity has led to a reemergence of a dedicated fanbase and video support for playing the game. Facade, itself, is no longer supported by a development team as the original creators have moved onto other fields.
It is somewhat surprising that Facade has had such importance today in the software market. However, no one has tried to copy the formula that garnered attention. No other system has ever allowed for such freedom of choice for its protagonists. Gamers may hope for a return to such limitless gameplay.
How do you get Facade?
There are several limitations to downloading the application. As it was released many years ago, it only worked on older models of Windows and Mac. The latest edition of Windows it worked on is Windows XP.
However, they released an update to the software, which allowed it to be played on later Vista through Windows 10. If you want to play on older systems like XP, you need to download the original package.
Other than that issue, it is a simple download and installation. It tends to crash, so it might take a while to get it installed and running. However, the game has always been free. The developers wanted to have an open-source game that was community supported.
What is the point of the Facade game?
The game is narrative-driven, with the purpose being the fixing of the marriage gone south. The couple, Trip and Grace, invite you over to enjoy an evening with them. Unknown to you, they are having conflict in their marriage.
The game starts with you getting a call inviting you over. When you arrive at their place, you are free to type whatever you want to into the game system as responses. You can even flirt with Grace or Trip if your character is the opposite gender.
Facade has multiple possible endings led by the player’s actions. If you insult them, they will throw you out of the house eventually, or if you continue to flirt with one of the couples with the other one around. The AI within the software shines in these randomized situations.
The goal is to read the room and understand what to say. The same thing could be said in different situations and gain different results. The system is remarkable for its adaptability and pushes you to develop interpersonal skills in hypothetical situations.
However, another way to play the game is to try to mess the responses up. As the software engine generates all the responses, it is possible to confuse the system causing some interesting results. Of course, at times, that will backfire, and you will get thrown out.
Limitations and bugs in Facade
The AI has only so much understanding of people, so it might simply not work with something that you said. Often players are kicked out for saying random phrases or misspelling a single word with the engine not being able to understand.
If you say the word ‘melon’, it will instantly get you thrown out of the house. Apart from that, there are other bugs that cause the game to crash or cause you to have a bad ending without expecting it.
Alternative to Facade
It is strange, but even though this came out in 2005, no one has ever tried to replicate its totally free form narrative style. Facade is most often compared to Galatea, which is a good option if you want to experience a similar sandbox-like experience.
Galatea is a story based around player choice. The player may have a conversation with a woman who responds based on the user’s preferences. While not as open-ended as Facade is, it has a well-designed response system.
A more popular choice-driven narrative would be Detroit: Become Human. It has a wide array of alternatives that lead to various conclusions. However, it is not as open-ended and does not allow people to insert whatever text they want to, but it does have far superior graphics and longer playability.
Breaking the fourth wall is possible with The Stanley Parable. It has a better graphical landscape than Facade, however, it has a short playtime as it only lasts a few hours. Stanley does have an exciting storyline in which you can explore what happens when you deviate from the best possible option
Detective Grimoire has an exotic feel to it. The narrative enables you to become a detective, allowing you to solve puzzles and order your thoughts to come to the conclusion and catch the bad guy. It is much more free-form than similar detective games for those who don’t like to stick to rigid rules.
There is nowhere else you can find this particular mode of play. It is a game for those who like to play outside the box and experiment with as many options as possible. Despite the substandard mechanics of play and graphics, it is a unique game that is worth checking out.
The most recent update made the game available to the newest operating systems.