Grim Facade is a series of hidden object games
created by ERS Game Studios
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 Obsessions
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.
A beta for the fourth game has been released. In 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.
Tropes present throughout the series include:
- Continuity Nod: Every shopkeeper you meet with starting with Sinister Obsessions has a picture of the game's previous shopkeeper. The only exception is A Wealth of Betrayal which has paintings of the first two shop-keepers, but not the third.
- Private Detective: Although it seems to be a different one each time, considering the remarks they make on the shop keeper's paintings (See Continuity Nod above).
- 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.
- The X of Y: In all but Sinister Obsessions.
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.
- 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.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: This game involved kidnapping instead of murders along with the mention of cults and no use of flashbacks at all. Moreover, the title is set on a rectangle, rather than the country that the game takes place in.
- Malevolent Masked Man: One that always seems to be one step ahead of the detective, warning them not to get in Redemption's way. He is presumably the man known as Silvio, jealous that the love of his life married someone else.
- Motif: Masks, which are used for concealment and secrets.
- 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...
- 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).
- Western and Eastern Zodiac: The last puzzle in the bonus chapter involves knowing the symbols for both West and East zodiac.
Tropes present in Sinister Obsessions:
- 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.
- 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.
- Kick the Dog: Maria, first shown playing with the friendly daschund, fires a bullet 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.
- 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 Obsessions took place in Italy. The Cost of Jealousy takes place in Spain.
- Bowties Are Cool: Esmerelda's pet dog has a bright red one, and you give it to the fennel fox later on.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Subverted. In the beta, the flashbacks were all in sepia-tone, while the normal game uses full color.
- 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.
- Lady in Red: Esmerelda
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Always Night
- 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: The Fire Knight
- 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 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.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The cutscene where the detective peeks into the bull fighting ring has glimpses of characters in other ERS games.
- Happily Adopted: The paper boy is adopted by Sergio and Rosa at the end of the bonus chapter.
- Kid Sidekick: The paper boy can be seen as this to the detective.
- 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 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.