Videogame / Grim Facade
is a series of hidden object games
created by ERS Game Studios
(now called as AMAX Interactive) and distributed by Big Fish Games. The game tell of a series of detectives solving different mysteries throughout 19th Century Italy and Spain.
The first game, Mystery of Venice
, has a detective is hired to find a man's missing wife and daughter. Along the way, the detective is being followed by a masked man, and the police is trying to hide something about the case.
The second game, Sinister Obsession
has the detective being called by the maid of the Conti family to find the murderer on the estate.
The third game, The Cost of Jealousy
is set in Spain, and the detective has to find out that someone has been killed and that there's an illicit love triangle surrounding it.
The fourth game, A Wealth of Betrayal
, the detective must uncover the reason why Rosa Ramirez stole a sacred sword and unleash the fury of the so called Fire Knight before he sets the city on fire.
The fifth game, The Artist and the Pretender
takes place during the Renaissance, where someone is trying to defame famous artist Leonardo DaVinci and convince the villagers to destroy his works.
The sixth game, Hidden Sins
has the detective called to the city of Coldstone as the mayor is asking for help to find his wife. Of course that, and the strange being known as The Avenger, is making a blacklist for whomever stands in their way.
The seventh game, Monster in Disguise
talks about the capture of a notorious serial killer Bloody Stanley being locked away, yet somehow the murders are still going on. Has someone else been captured by mistake? Is Bloody Stanley still out there? Only you will know the truth.
The eighth game, The Red Cat
has the action returning back to the scenario in Venice, when people are getting killed by a murdered who first marks their home's front door with a painting of a red cat. What are the murderer's motives? The mayor has asked for your help in saving his son from death and stopping the killer.
The ninth game, A Deadly Dowry (Collector's Edition)
maintains the action in Italy but, this time, in Anzio.
Tropes present throughout the series include:
- Private Detective: A staple, of course.
- Legacy Character: Each detective is usually a separate detective from the other games, but they all are detectives under the agency known as "Grim Facade".
- Motif: Fans are used as hints.
- Once an Episode: The games start off with someone sending a letter/calling the detective to meet up with them and explaining the situation of what's going on.
- Running Gag: Every shopkeeper you meet with starting with Sinister Obsession has a picture (or pictures) of previous shopkeepers.
Tropes present in Mystery of Venice:
- Backstory: Redemption was formed after a plague struck Venice in 1104. The Doge lost his son and then blamed the rich for their sins and debauchery for causing the strife. The group then started to kidnap people who they felt personified the seven sins in order to kill off the plague. When the Doge died, a new plague came about and the commoners rebelled against the rulers of Venice and Redemption died out.
- The bonus chapter adds more backstory. It's said that the Doge tossed a wedding ring from his ship into the waters of Venice, but a curse would fall if it didn't happen annually, thus explaining why a new plague came about.
- Bad Boss: At the end of the game, you see four other corpses in the sacrificial hall. Chief Amadeo alludes that they are four of the other members of the new Redemption, suggesting that they were all sinners who he tricked into thinking they were pure enough for his new Order, then betrayed and sacrificed them as representations of the mortal sins. He also says that all six were killed, even though a fifth body is absent from the scene and the Masked Man who represented Wrath was killed somewhere else entirely.
- Big Bad: The head of Redemption, Chief Amadeo of the Venetian police.
- Bilingual Bonus: 'Exlibris' is Latin for "from the books". Fitting that it's used as a password to access a secret library.
- Chekhov's Gun: The mask of the masked man isn't just for show. It's the Mask of Anger which is used to reach the final part of the game.
- City of Canals: It's set in Venice, so this was inevitable.
- Cool Mask: The masks you collect throughout the game.
- Cult: Simply known as "Redemption".
- Darker and Edgier: Aside from Puppetshow and Haunted Halls, Mystery of Venice has a backstory regarding a cult kidnapping people, talk of the seven sins, and the Big Bad seconds away from sacrificing a young maiden.
- Death by Irony: Every member of Redemption. Chief Amadeo killed five of the other six members of Redemption for personifying their own mortal sins when they thought they were the ones who were supposed to do the sacrificing. The Masked Man who represented Wrath was killed by blindly trying to cut you down with a sword and not noticing the pit trap you set up until it was too late, and Amadeo himself, representing Envy, gets killed trying to kill Karla's daughter instantly after saying that he had killed all the sinners who were members of Redemption.
- Dirty Cop: The main antagonist, Chief Amadeo, is this, being the head of a cult prone to Human Sacrifice.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Not really, considering Mystery of Venice has only a small handful of seen characters and most of them are victims or outright one of the villains, but I don't think anyone fully suspected the police Chief you saw briefly at the midway point of the game being Karla's ex-lover Amadeo as well as the new leader of Redemption.
- Disney Villain Death: Both The Masked Man and Amadeo gets this. The Masked Man trips and falls into a well and Amadeo is knocked back and thrown through a stained glass window, where either the fall kills him or the sacrificial pyre that comes after him.
- Driven by Envy: The Big Bad's motivations for kidnapping and sacrificing the wealthy come from the belief that doing so would stop the Plague from ravaging the city, but the reason he chose Karla and Lisa is that he was the jilted ex-lover of Karla who wanted to get back at her and her new husband Silvio.
- Early Installment Weirdness: This game involved kidnapping instead of murders along with the mention of cults and no use of flashbacks at all.
- Guide Dang It!: Many times you have to refer to the Diary in the lower left hand corner to get pertinent information on the plot at hand. Some puzzles, including the Library Door and Statue Code puzzles require you to have something with the code written on it before you can even attempt it, but others, such as the Commedia dell'Arte puzzle, don't have such a code and if you don't know the solution is available in the Diary then you better find the solution by memory or by trial and error. Also, it's hard to make the connection of the Chief of Police being Amadeo and the leader of Redemption without looking up the page describing him.
- The Heavy: The Masked Man.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Amadeo's sacrificial pyre falls and presumably crushes him to death after they both fall to the bottom of the sacrificial chamber.
- Malevolent Masked Man: One that always seems to be one step ahead of the detective, warning them not to get in Redemption's way. It is not revealed explicitly who the Masked Man is, but it's possible he is either Bartolomeo or another, unnamed member of Redemption.
- Motif: Masks, which are used for concealment and secrets.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Most of the voices, including Giovanni's, Silvio's and Karla's, are played with a distinct Italian accent. The Masked Man's is subtle under his growling tones, but is present. However, Chief Amadeo and Lisa sound noticeably American.
- Police Are Useless: Subverted. The reason why the detective is called isn't because they're useless, but rather due to the plague that's affected the city. As it turns out, it's a double subversion, as the real reason the police are doing nothing is because Chief Amadeo is the leader of Redemption.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The masked man has these in the Collector's Edition loading screen.
- Seven Deadly Sins: In order to access a secret alcove, the detective needs to collect masks representing the seven sins. They are (in order): the Mask of Vanity (Pride), the Mask of Envy, Mask of Gluttony, Mask of Lust, Mask of Greed, Mask of Laziness (Sloth), and Mask of Anger (Wrath).
- In addition, the original purpose of Redemption was to sacrifice the members of high society who most embodied these deadly sins. However, the new Redemption's members actually personify these deadly sins which was intended by the Big Bad in order to round the other six members up and kill them all as symbolic sacrifices of their mortal sins, including:
- Envy: Chief Amadeo.
- Vanity (Pride) : Bartolomeo.
- Anger (Wrath) : The Masked Man.
- Gluttony: Gaspar.
- Lust: Gaspar's wife.
- Two of them, Laziness (Sloth) and Greed do not have a named or mentioned owner, but the Laziness mask is found inside the theater and the Greed mask is found inside the pirate ship nearby, which may be an indication as to the two members' professions.
- Also in the case of almost all of these with the exception of the Envy mask, you retrieve it from the home or workplace (presumably) of the person who embodies the sin. Except for The Masked Man, whose Anger Mask you get from him directly by having him fall to his death down a bottomless pit.
- Western and Eastern Zodiac: The last puzzle in the bonus chapter involves knowing the symbols for both West and East zodiac.
- White Hair, Black Heart: The masked man, only seen in the Collector's Edition loading screen.
Tropes present in Sinister Obsession:
- Abandoned Hospital: Not quite abandoned, but Francesco, the doctor of the three brothers, has his room set up like a cross between a doctor's office and a photo lab, complete with a grungy atmosphere with blood and grime all over the walls, the office itself being a mess, and, for added effect, there's a plunger inside Francesco's bed which cannot be sanitary. Then you actually meet Francesco in the bonus level, and he is far more of a Woobie and Dogged Nice Guy than any sort of Mad Doctor.
- Backstory: Present in the Collector's Edition epilogue level. Maria's family, the Baggios, used to be the winemakers of the town, until Pietro Conti, Bernardo's father, swindled the Baggios out of their vineyards and forced them into poverty. Maria's father, Nicola Baggio, tried to frame Pietro for the destruction of the vineyards by setting them ablaze and later attempted to assassinate him. Thinking that he had killed Maria in one of his attempted crimes, he ends up hanging himself in his bedroom.
- Bee Afraid: At one point the killer tries to impede your investigation by dumping a container of bees in front of an important item.
- Big Bad: Maria Baggio.
- Body in a Breadbox: One of the women is found stuffed inside the fridge, one of the women is found inside a wine barrel outside, and the maid Maria killed to replace is found stuffed inside another wine barrel underground.
- The Butler Did It: Maria, the maid of the Conti estate, was the one behind the murders. The Collector's Edition reveals that she killed an upcoming maid and stuffed her into a wine barrel.
- Flashback: Used whenever the detective finds a piece of evidence.
- Heroic Dog: The daschund seen throughout the game becomes pretty helpful. A photo reveals that it's won first-prize in obstacle courses which the detective uses to his advantage.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The victim found in the freezer is suspended in the air by a meathook.
- Jump Scare: There are a few across the game, as cutscenes tend to pop up from time to time and a chunk of them include finding corpses and being suddenly attacked or impeded by the killer. A notable one though includes a baby doll that pops up from the lake outside the Conti estate and begins saying "Ma...ma", which mostly is effective for coming right after discovering the first body.
- Kick the Dog: Maria, first shown playing with the friendly daschund, lashes out with a knife that grazes its paw to keep her identity secret.
- Madness Mantra: At the end of the bonus chapter, you find Maria in an abandoned house muttering, "It's all over" just as she's about to unleash a bomb killing her.
- Revenge: Maria's main reason for the murders is that her family's estate and grapes were taken away by the family she was working for, and she ended up in an orphanage before applying for a job as the maid.
- Shout-Out: Among the three prime suspects for the murders of the women on the Conti estate include Mario, Luigi, and Francesco.
- Stuffed in the Fridge: The fates of many of the women found in the game.
Tropes present in The Cost of Jealousy:
- A Load of Bull: Bulls are present as gate fixtures. Fitting, since the game takes place in Spain.
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Mystery of Venice and Sinister Obsession took place in Italy. The Cost of Jealousy takes place in Spain.
- The Big Bad Shuffle: It starts off as a Big Bad Duumvirate between Esmerelda Cortez and Hugo Sanchez, but Gabriella Sanchez usurps the role in the bonus chapter.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Subverted. In the beta, the flashbacks were all in sepia-tone, while the normal game uses full color.
- Everybody Did It: Although Esmerelda and Hugo were responsible for Carlos's murder, in the bonus chapter Gabriella snaps and tries to kill Hugo and Esmerelda and make off with the money. In the end the only innocent person in this case is Carlos.
- Flashback: Used whenever the detective finds a piece of evidence.
- Foreshadowing: The strange man following the detective is shown stroking the fennel fox, and earlier on you find a photo of the fennel fox with its master, Hugo. That's because the strange man is Hugo, who killed Carlos and faked his own death.
- Classical Mythology: A box needs figures of Hades, Zeus and Cerberus to unlock.
- Love Square: As named by Aidan since Esmerelda was married to Carlos but was having an affair with Hugo who was married with Gabriela. The bonus chapter reveals that Gabriela plotted the entire thing to frame Esmerelda and Hugo so that she could steal Hugo's fortune.
- Precious Puppy: Esmerelda's white puppy when you first meet her.
- Put on a Bus: Although Aiden is introduced as a sidekick to the detective and made implications of returning in later installments, he basically dropped off the face of the Earth after this. This might be because of the whole Legacy Character thing.
- Psychic Powers: The detective has post-cognition that activates when they touch certain types of evidence.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: A fennel fox that you meet every now and then.
- Romani: The detective finds one who helps locate Esmerelda and Hugo through Esmerelda's earrings.
- The Watson: Aidan, the detective's assistant.
- Woman Scorned: Gabriella. Even though she masterminded the events from the beginning, including getting Esmerelda to coerce Hugo into killing Carlos and take off with Hugo's fortune and subsequently trying to kill Hugo and Esmerelda and make off with the money herself, the tipping point for her was learning of Hugo and Esmerelda's affair in the first place.
Tropes found in A Wealth of Betrayal
- And Now For Something Completely Different: The previous games were all kidnapping cases, but otherwise pretty normal. This one revolves around a legend and a ghostly knight.
- A Load of Bull: It is set in Spain, after all. There's a bull fight going along, and the detective actually has a pet bull named Ferdinand that the player can take care of.
- Backstory: Three centuries prior to the game, there was a knight who fell in love with a woman involved in witchcraft. But when the witch was burned at stake, the knight used dark magic in order to exact his vengeance. Then, a local knight came and used it to slay the Fire Knight and the city has been calm ever since.
- Big Bad: Pedro Ramirez.
- Burn the Witch!: What happened to the Fire Knight's beloved.
- Coat Full of Contraband: How the shop-keeper sells items to be used against the Fire Knight.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Rosa seems to have one, which is presumably why she stole the sword in the first place. It's all a sham.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: The Fire Knight is Jorge, the barista and patissiere you met and likely forgot at the very beginning of the game and the character you interacted the least with up until his reveal. Made doubly hard to spot since somehow he managed to pull off tending to the shop while having the Fire Knight rampage through town and set fire to the statue at the same time.
- The Ending Changes Everything: Learning about the paper boy being the ghost in the Bonus Chapter puts most of his dialogue in the main game into perspective.
- Evil Twin: Pedro Ramirez to Sergio Ramirez.
- Eyepatch of Power: Sergio wears one due to an accident he had when he was younger. When you see him with both eyes half-way through the game, something is off...
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The cutscene where the detective peeks into the bull fighting ring has glimpses of characters in other ERS games, including the shopkeeper from Cost of Jealousy in the seat next to the one assigned to Rosa.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Pedro Ramirez.
- Happily Adopted: The paper boy is adopted by Sergio and Rosa at the end of the bonus chapter.
- The Heavy: Jorge, a.k.a. the Fire Knight.
- Hero Ball: The detective does this a couple times, but the most blatant one is when she hands the Fire Knight's Sword to "Sergio" when his eyepatch is on the wrong side.
- Identical Twin ID Tag: Sergio Ramirez lost an eye in battle, while his Evil Twin Pedro has no such distinguishing feature. He attempts to do a Twin Switch and succeeds for most of the game, but the detective comes in when he wasn't expecting and made the mistake of putting the eyepath on the wrong side.
- Kid Sidekick: The paper boy can be seen as this to the detective.
- MacGuffin: The Sword of the Fire Knight which was stolen from the statue and allegedly brought about the terror of the Fire Knight.
- Musical Nod: The piano music in the cafe is the same from Azada: In Libro, while another track used is from the Dark Tales series, both made by ERS.
- Off with His Head!: The fate of the Fire Knight.
- Pretty Butterflies: Butterflies can be used as currency to buy items for the detective's pet bull.
- Serious Business: The sword used to seal away the Fire Knight is considered a monument, with whoever finding Rosa getting a 1000 Escado reward. Justified in that the Fire Knight is real and how he'll use it to set the town aflame.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Turns out that the Fire Knight was a scam by Sergio's twin brother in order to obtain the riches from the sapphire mines Sergio recently discovered.
- In the bonus chapter, the paper boy was the ghost who scared the miners away. It wasn't out of malice, but rather because the mines have become his home and he was afraid that he would be thrown out to the streets.
- Sweet Tooth: The shop-keeper's cockatoo will only play with you if you hand him a cupcake.
- Title Drop: "Grim Facade" is the name of the detective agency, as shown by the trophy room.
- Toros y Flamenco: Emphasized more here than in The Cost of Jealousy.
Tropes found in The Artist and the Pretender
Tropes found in Hidden Sins
- Backstory: The bonus chapter explains the origins of the Avenger.
- Cats Are Magic: This is probably the only explanation as to how the alley cat is willing to give up some of its nine lives whenever you die.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: The alley cat you partner with always has this on his face.
- Continuity Nod: Rosa Ramirez from A Wealth of Betrayal can be seen in the portrait of one of the graves, near the castle.
- Darker and Edgier: Graphic deaths abound, a corrupt town, the main character dying many times? Yep, that's a formula for a darker game to me.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Your name being plastered upon your headstone counts, right?
- Kangaroo Court: The only evidence for Albert's trial was a crossbow made by him, and that's enough for the judge to sentence him to death.
- Malevolent Masked Man: The Avenger. Or rather, woman.
- Revenge: Lisbeth's motivation of killing all the victims is because they took part in a plan by Isaac Morel to frame her love Albert in the murder of the previous mayor.
- Multiple Endings: You can either have the Avenger kill the mayor or arrest them immediately.
- Samus Is a Girl: The real identity of the Avenger is Lisbeth, the mayor's wife who was kidnapped in the opening.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: One of the soundtracks from ERS Azada games is played in the bonus chapter...when the Avenger is making their blacklist.
- Trophy Wife: As Lisbeth put it, she is nothing but a decoration for Isaac's perfect world.
- Walking Spoiler: Should we remind you of the fact that the detective dies many times throughout the game?
- Wham Shot: Having the main character wake up to see their headstone pretty much explains how dark the game is gonna get.
Tropes found in Monster in Disguise
- Abandoned Hospital: Subverted. The orphanage has a gloomy appearance.
- Big Bad: Jack Bloodshed. In the bonus chapter, is a woman, became friend with Stanley when they were kids in an orphanage.
- Continuity Nod: The memory device from Hidden Sins is used here with the one who writes the letter stating that he picked it up from the docks of another town (presumably Coldstone). The alley cat is also shown in the funeral home, the letter even circling in red to take care of it.
- Dirty Cop: Police officer Jack Bloodshed is the killer named Bloody Stanley.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Your name is plastered upon a police badge.
- Malevolent Masked Man: Bloody Stanley. In the bonus chapter, is a woman, became friend with Stanley when they were kids in an orphanage.
- Meaningful Name: Because of split personality disorder, Stanley adopted the name Jack Bloodshed.
- Police Are Useless: Subverted. The detective is called, but the police officer Jack Bloodshed is also investigating and helping. As it turns out, it's a double subversion, as the real reason the police seems to be doing nothing is because Jack Bloodshed is Bloody Stanley, and he called the detective due to having split personality disorder.
- The Watson: Police Officer Jack Bloodshed, kind of, considering that he is helping the detective, like an assistant.
Tropes found in The Red Cat
- Backstory: The Red Cats was an organization founded by Vincent Conte to rule without corruption, made riots, demanded a ransom for an officer, and got the money.
- Big Bad: The Red Cat, Vincent Conte's daughter.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: The alley cat from Hidden Sins appears and always has this on his face.
- City of Canals: Like Mystery of Venice, it's set in Venice, so this was inevitable.
- Continuity Nod:
- From Mystery of Venice: a scene has appeared as an object in one of the Hidden Object Scenes in the coach near the gate of Bertrando's house.
- From Hidden Sins: The memory device is also used here; the resurrection plot device also occurs; the alley cat is shown every time the memory device is to be used, and has also appeared as an object in the Hidden Object Scene in the mayor's son house.
- From Monster in Disguise: there is a key in the store, among other keys, belonging to Jack Bloodshed.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Not really, considering The Red Cat has only a small handful of seen characters and most of them are victims or outright one of the villains, but I don't think anyone fully suspected the jewelry store owner you saw briefly when first entered the store of being The Red Cat. Also, she has no portrait of any of the previous shopkeeper in previous games. And, also, after the first time, she's not at the store anymore in any other subsequent time.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Your name being plastered upon your headstone counts, right?
- Malevolent Masked Man: The Red Cat. Or rather, woman.
- Revenge: At one scene, the Red Cat says "I'm revenge". She is the daughter of Vincent Conte, whose apparent death is seen in the game introduction before the game title.
- Samus Is a Girl: The real identity of The Red Cat is a woman, the jewelry store owner and also Vincent Conte's daughter.