Attention! Rosa Ramirez has gone missing! Nobody’s saying anything specific, but it looks like a headless horseman with a burning skull has something to do with it. The Fire Knight, they call him, and it’s easy to guess why. As a crack detective from a nearby town, it’s your job to get to the bottom of what will undoubtedly be a straightforward mystery with absolutely no supernatural surprises of any sort. Just kidding, bring on the weirdness!
Grim Facade: A Wealth of Betrayal is packed with items and mini-games to solve, both of which happen in rapid fire pace as you move back and forth between related scenes, chatting with characters and slowly gaining clues about Rosa’s disappearance. Most of the puzzles you’ll solve involve a quick and simple passing of items to people or objects. It can be difficult to know what needs to be shown to whom, but the selection is usually small enough that you can figure things out pretty fast. The mini-games have a similar philosophy of speed and simplicity, never taking up more than a few moments of your time, for better or worse.
There are several different kinds of hidden object puzzles to entertain yourself with in Grim Facade. These include scenes that give you text clues and task you to find the matching object as well as scenes with picture clues and item pairs hidden above. Don’t expect much of a mental workout with any of the hidden object scenes, however, as the hints given are easy enough to figure out in a few seconds. Still, it’s always nice to have an alternative to the standard laundry list at the bottom of the screen. Best of all, if you just can’t stand an object hunt-a-thon, you can toggle over and complete a game of mahjong instead.
Grim Facade also has something unusual baked into the gameplay: an item shop. A shady character has a moderate selection of useful tools for sale, conveniently priced at a few pieces of gold each. As you explore the town and countryside you’ll come across shiny slivers of gold. Rake them up and take them back to the shopkeeper to progress in the game. In practice this shop functions just like any other item-based puzzle, but it’s a charming addition to the game that makes you feel like an RPG superhero.
Grim Facade is an odd game. The story, dialogue and voice acting aren’t top quality, but they’re not so bad that you’ll cringe yourself into the next room. Some of the puzzles are downright bizarre as well. Matching facial features with cafe patrons? That’s some creepy detective work. Strangely, though, these off-beat inclusions don’t really detract from the game, as there’s this vague feeling of camp that rests just beneath the surface. This isn’t a die hard serious horror HOG, but it’s not quite a parody, either.
Despite its oddities and low level of difficulty, Grim Facade: A Wealth of Betrayal manages to hold itself together well enough to be a decent game. Suffering through cheesy dramatic events is the lowest point, leaving plenty of high points to keep you busy and entertained for hours.