Ten years ago, you introduced two friends of yours to each other: Grace and Trip. They got together and married. After years of not seeing either of them, Trip calls you over the telephone and asks you over to their apartment for a visit.
That's pretty much the whole story. In this video game developed by independent studio Procedural Arts, you play as yourself visiting friends. And the friends are not exactly happy with each other.
The main selling point of this video game (well, "selling point" is the wrong term, since it's freeware) is Grace's and Trip's artificial intelligence. The player communicates with them through simple body language and by typing messages. Though they do occasionally get, er, confused if you say something they do not understand, they comprehend English remarkably well for video game characters.
Gameplay is extraordinarily simple: You move with the arrow keys, interact with objects (or physically with Grace or Trip) by left-clicking on them, and can talk at any time simply by typing something.
Façade provides examples of the following tropes:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Trip or Grace are listing off things you did wrong that night, they'll include "suggesting they get a pet" if you did so.
- Artificial Stupidity:
- From this video:Player: Someone get me a bandage!
Trip: Oh, well, um, come look at this Italy photo.andPlayer: I'M DYING!
Grace and Trip: *awkward chuckle*
- or from this video:Grace: I'm so tired of looking at this god awful work table. Maybe if I replaced it with um...
Player: Break up
Grace: Maybe if I replaced it with um...
Player: Break up
Grace: Maybe if I replaced it with um...
Player: Break up
Grace: Maybe if I replaced it with um...
- or from this video:Player: I'm a robot. Boop Boop
Trip: See Grace, our friend knows a good life when she sees it.
- or from this one:Trip: ... Sooo, can I make you one of my drink inventions?
Trip: ... Sooo, can I make you one of my drink inventions?
Trip: ... Sooo, can I make you one of my drink inventions?
(Repeat about 15 times)
- It's apparently possible to get the best ending by being a nonsense-spouting obnoxious jerkass.
- brutalmoose accomplished it by doing nothing except using the word "Yes" the entire game.
- WelshGamer technically beat the game by saying nothing but "Pineapples" the whole way, he only got kicked out after telling Grace to "shut the fuck up".
- From this video:
- As You Know: "So, ten years ago, that's when you introduced us, right?" Say "No" for a good laugh.
- Backstory: Unfolds a little bit at a time.
- Berserk Button: Trip will throw you out immediately if you say certain things, most of them sexually inappropriate and therefore understandable. Infamously, however, he also hates the word "melon".note If you say it at the very beginning:Trip: Hey, it's good to see you!
Player: I brought melons!
Trip: *Smacks the door in the player's face*
- Blatant Lies: When throwing you out of the apartment, Trip may insist that he and Grace will be "fine." Considering that you overheard a heated argument, and they may have had at least one with you around to hear it, that claim isn't very believable or reassuring.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Trip and Grace sure have their moral priorities in a twist. For example, being a bartender for a bar in the slums is apparently a terrible thing in Trip's opinion, which is why he hides it. On Grace's side, she seems to think having her work praised is a moral offense. It's often hard to tell who the player should side with (and they force you to choose at least twice in every playthrough) when they don't seem to have any rational system of logic to dictate what they think constitutes appropriate behavior, for both you and themselves.
- This is somewhat justified by the fact that Trip and Grace are extremely neurotic people, meaning it's not out of the question for them to have these irrational personal anxieties. Getting the game's Golden Ending involves helping them understand that they don't have to feel bad about any of these things.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Subtle example, since you need to play through the game multiple times to get all the information, but both Trip and Grace have contributed to the failing marriage, and conversely each of them have good reason to be pissed off at the other person. To wit:
- Trip can't accept the idea of an artist wife, which is why he pushed her into advertising. Also, he grew up extremely poor, with his family always living "on the edge", and his parents were ignorant. He became ashamed enough, both of their ignorance and of an incident where they had to live in a shelter for six months, that it's what caused him to obsess over riches and material possessions, hence why he admires Grace's rich and smart but phony parents; now, however, he feels he can't get rid of his past and doesn't know who he is, he feels he's a phony. That's why while he plays high class poker games and is a wine snob, he also sneaks down to a crappy bar to drink beer with lowly construction workers. He manipulated Grace into marrying him in the first place because he proposed to her in front of her parents at a Christmas Eve party, so she couldn't say no without losing face. Finally, he slept with a client named Maria while he was on his trip to Barcelona.
- Grace has a tendency to avoid responsibility for her decisions, so she let Trip control her into not going after her artistic passion. She developed that tendency because her parents bought her everything she wanted as a kid, so now even her apartment full of expensive crap is another way of hiding. Her parents are smart and rich, unlike Trip's, but they're always pretending to be something they're not, so Grace admires Trip's "real" upbringing that he was ashamed of. When Trip manipulated Grace into marrying him, Grace never did anything about it. Also, Grace has been secretly painting behind Trip's back, such as while he was away on his trip to Italy. Finally, back when Grace was in college, she was in love with someone else: an art major named Vince, and they had sex the night before Trip proposed to Grace. Grace feels guilty that having the affair at that time "jinxed" Grace and Trip's marriage.
- Captain Obvious: Hug them and they may say "You're hugging me!"
- Catchphrase: They say "we need to talk about us both/Trip/Grace" an awful lot.
- When the fighting starts, they tend to shout "Goddamn it" in frustration a lot!
- Developers' Foresight:
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- You can get kicked out for, among other things, sitting still for too long, moving around too much, or saying the word "melon" or any word containing it. (Granted, "melon" is slang for "breast", but woe to unfortunate players who say it in an innocent context, such as wanting a melon-flavored cocktail.) But flat-out telling Trip and Grace to kill themselves (or each other) will just merit some uncomfortable banter.
- It becomes even more ridiculous when you simply refuse to enter the room after Trip opens the door. He'll plead for you to come in a few times before dragging you forward up to the door, saying you need to go, and slamming the door in your face.
- Dummied Out: The game's texture files include an ashtray and a generic "drink" photograph, neither of which appear in the apartment.
- Easter Egg:
- Trip and Grace seem to have a crippling phobia of melons.
- It turns out that "melon" or "melons" is flagged as a synonym for breasts, which is why they react so badly to it. This presents its own conundrums. Oddly, if you pair it with another trigger word, Trip doesn't throw you out. Try saying "Maria's melon". Trip typically only reacts to the Maria part.
- Establishing Series Moment: As you're walking up to the door, you can overhear Trip and Grace having a heated argument, giving you a clue as to how troubled their marriage is. When Trip greets you, his responses to what you say give you some idea of how the dialogue system works, and how easy it can be to get a Game Over.
- Game Mod: The games textures and sprites for pictures/painting/props/skylines are in common graphic formats, and easy to open and edit. Many YouTube videos demonstrate graphical hacks, such as the magic 8-ball being turned into Chris Hansen, the skyline from the window being set on fire, etc.
- Gay Option: No matter what gender your character is, you can still flirt with either Grace or Trip. Or both.
- Gender-Blender Name: It takes some strong dedication on the player's part to invoke this, since Trip and Grace will always treat the player character as the gender assumed by the name. That being said, it explicitly offers "Chris", "Kelly", "Mel", "Nat", "Pat", and "Sam" for males and females, plus there's "Joe" versus "Jo", so you can select any of these and just act like you meant the opposite version.
- Guide Dang It!: There is a good ending where you save Grace and Trips marriage, but it is extremely difficult to figure out. You can buy a guide from Procedural Art for US$5. Then again, as noted above, you can actually beat the game by doing nothing.
- Happy Marriage Charade: It's right there in the title.
- Hates Their Parent: Both Trip and Grace resent their parents, which is just one part of their many, many issues. Trip resents that his parents are poor and uneducated, which resulted in him growing up in poverty and constantly feeling he was never good enough. Grace resents her parents for being image-obsessed snobs who spoiled her, thus leading her to avoid responsibility for her actions and let others make decisions for her. Ironically, they both like each other's parents; Trip likes that Grace's parents are sophisticated and successful, while Grace likes Trip's parents for being 'real' and not caring only about wealth.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Done in an odd way. The player doesn't type in a name, but instead selects one from a list, which will then be awkwardly spliced into Trip and Grace's fully voice-acted dialogue.
- Intangible Man:
- Trip and Grace have no respect for the walls, or sometimes even furniture; they walk straight through them without a second thought when necessary.
- The player can also do this due to a glitch, but only in one section of wall, and the player must be walking backwards.
- It's a Wonderful Failure:
- Courtesy of Trip. If you're "out of line" about three times, Trip kicks you out of the apartment (and it's always Trip who physically removes you, even if Grace is the one you pissed off). "Out of line" in this case being defined as saying really rude things to them, or kissing them on the mouth. However, on some occasions (and they are rare), you can get kicked out after one mistake instead of three if you say something really outrageous.
- If you tick Trip off enough and then leave the apartment before he manages to throw you out, he'll actually come up to you and throw you in in order to throw you out.
- Keywords Conversation: Talking with Grace and Trip is accomplished by typing in what you want to say, with a powerful text parser deciphering and producing an appropriate response from them.
- Love Triangle: We would put in a spoiler box, but there are only three characters, so you can guess who is involved.
- The Masochism Tango: Grace and Trip. You can overhear a huge argument between them before Trip even answers the door for you, so they end up trying to pretend everything is normal and happy for your benefit while secretly getting passive-aggressive potshots in at each other. Then the potshots turn just plain aggressive, which is when you can potentially help them.
- Manipulative Bastard: To a certain extent, Trip. It can be revealed he manipulated Grace into marrying him by deliberately proposing to her in front of her parents on Christmas Eve and its also implied he manipulated her into giving up her dream of becoming an artist and going into advertising instead.
- Match Maker Quest: The player is supposed to fill the role of informal marriage counselor.
- Multiple Endings: You can either get kicked out by Trip, get Trip or Grace to leave, successfully save their marriage, leave with Trip and Grace telling you they're OK while they're not, or leave the apartment before any of the previous possibilities happen. There are multiple ways to get the same ending.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
- The two people you hooked up are unhappy with their marriage.
- In-game, if you side with only Grace or only Trip the whole time, that will technically solve their relationship problems...by causing either Grace or Trip to cut the relationship off and storm out of the apartment.
- Non Standard Game Over: If you irritate Trip at the very beginning of the game and fail to sneak past him into the apartment, he shuts the door on you without giving you a chance to come in.
- Precision F-Strike: Trip and Grace rarely curse (major curses, anyway - both seem addicted to the phrase "Goddamn it"), but in the heat of an argument Grace might say "fuck you" to Trip and it's almost a shock when she does.
- Press Start to Game Over: It's possible to have Trip kick you out of the house before you actually enter if you say something obscene, offensive, or otherwise triggering as soon as he opens the door to let you in.
- Railroading: The game has an obvious script it's trying to follow, and though it has a few variations on how it follows it, ultimately any attempts at going Off the Rails will lead to Trip and Grace either awkwardly acknowledging it before continuing on or just throwing you out. Brutalmoose in particular noticed how the game starts out trying to steer the player towards three topics of conversation: Trip's Italy photo, Grace's decorating and drinks. He even explicitly said to Trip repeatedly that he doesn't want to talk about the Italy photo, and Trip would not stop pressing the topic.
- Sincerity Mode: When Trip and Grace are arguing, if you say something that pushes the story towards getting a good ending, one of them will say something along the lines of "That should help us", and they always mean it. Even though they sound sarcastic when they do.
- Skewed Priorities: Done unintentionally. When the two end up bringing in their confessions, they are always treated as if they're the same level of seriousness, even when the two you get are completely out of line with each other (though the end result will be a bit more reflective). For instance, Trip might confess he's been having an affair and Grace may talk about how she admires Trip's parents, all the while Trip will act like this a perfectly reasonable counter-point.
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: Various things around the apartment are obviously sprites.
- Speed Run: You can end the game in record time by turning around and hitting the elevator button without even knocking on Trip's door. If that feels too much like a cop-out, you can cause the game to end in a real hurry by saying something Trip doesn't like (say, "melons") when he opens the door for you.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Asking Trip if he cheated on Grace leads him to tell you to not accuse him of anything with Maria. And yes, he was cheating with Maria.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Every time you play, either Trip or Grace go through a list of everything you did wrong. Even if you were legitimately trying to help, they list reasons such as, "praising Grace". If you do nothing but sit on the couch and say "Yes" when Trip or Grace ask you if you want the truth, they start talking like, "Do you really think that..." and then, since they have nothing to list, say, "...I mean is that supposed to help us realize something about ourselves?" without saying anything in between.
- Trip and Grace also give each other these speeches throughout the game.
- Trapped with the Therapy Session: an example as you play as the unfortunate third wheel invited to have dinner with a couple whose relationship is clearly and painfully crumbling. Depending on how you act, the night can end all manner of ways, good or bad...but you're never fully in control of the situation (thanks to randomly-generated events). You're a pawn in their passive-aggressive game, and they never let you forget it.
- The Unfair Sex: Averted. The player will eventually discover that Trip and Grace are both roughly equally at fault for their failed marriage, and the game's narrative and presentation generally don't take sides as to who is more sympathetic.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Only if you actually manage to save Grace and Trip's marriage. Typically this can only happen if you get them both to admit at least one fault of some kind.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Feel free to completely ruin Grace's and Trips lives. Though their marriage is already falling apart and they both intensely hate their life together. The worst you can do is be a catalyst to make it all come apart more quickly.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you piss them off enough, Trip will shove you out of the apartment.
- We Used to Be Friends: A rather subtle case. Trip, Grace, and you, in the back story, have been good friends and you're even the guy who hooked the two up. Trip having to throw you out due to being a complete troll can be seen as this.
- Wham Line: This line from Trip comes as a major shock, especially since it is the first sign that there is more to the game than it seems at first glance.Trip: Grace... uh... I've been having an affair.
- Wide Open Sandbox: Well, OK, so its a small, closed sandbox. Yet a sandbox it is.
- You Lose at Zero Trust: When Trip gets upset enough at you, he kicks you out of the apartment, causing a game-over.
Okay, Kha, I think this evening is over, you've gotta leave.
We'll be fine, just... GO.