“A dark adventure about a boy with a prosthetic face and a mysterious past.” That is Steam’s synopsis for Sally Face by developer Steve Gabry, a new 2D side-scrolling episodic game, and much like the game’s first episode itself, it leaves you with more questions than answers. To say that the game is bizarre would be an understatement. The titular Sally Face, or Sal, wears his blue hair in pigtails and wears a prosthetic face mask for an unknown reason. The apartment building he and his father have just moved into may or may not be haunted. One of the neighbors is obsessed with a toy line (one that is clearly intended to represent a certain franchise targeted toward young girls but is infamously successful with men). Its music doesn’t sound “bad,” but it supports the overall tone in that everything feels…off. The art style is unique – very cartoony in a slightly grotesque way. (It makes me think of the YouTube series “Salad Fingers.”) Nearly everything about this game is designed to make you uncomfortable.
The gameplay is very simple: walk across the screen and interact with things in the environment. In contrast, the story is not so simple. The game begins with an unsettling dream sequence and it soon becomes clear that Sal has experienced an extremely traumatic event in his past. The game introduces you to other characters with their own seemingly troubled histories. All of these past events are only ever implied, never directly explained (there needs to be at least a few subplots saved for future episodes, after all). This supports the game’s mysterious atmosphere.
I did run into a few glitches, one of which made the game totally unplayable on my primary PC (though this was most likely an issue on my end since I have found no one else who experienced a similar occurrence). Also, the episode is extremely short – it only took me about an hour to complete my first playthrough. When I went back to replay it for the secrets and extra achievements, it added an extra half hour. On the bright side, this actually helped encourage me to go back and look for secrets myself since it wouldn’t take up much of my time. It isn’t too difficult to figure them out yourself (as long as you pay close attention to the environments and realize that Sal can sometimes interact with things that don’t give you a prompt, hint hint). You’ll probably be motivated to find this extra content yourself, as the extra scenes/dialogue offer clues and foreshadowing for the rest of the game (as opposed to being simple, story-less Easter eggs). I can always appreciate a game that rewards the player for going off the beaten path.
With this being the first episode out of five, it is to be expected that not many loose ends will be tied up by the ending. And there are plenty of cliffhangers. While nothing about this game particularly amazed me, I still look forward to playing the future episodes and seeing what direction the story will take. Sally Face, Episode 1: Strange Neighbors is only $2.99 on Steam and the season pass for the next four episodes is $11.99. If you want to play it, I recommend that you go with only the first episode for now since you won’t be saving any money with the additional purchase of the season pass (assuming each episode will cost $2.99). I feel that the price is more than reasonable for what you get out of the game.
By the way, Sally Face is part of an ongoing crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. As of the time of this review being written, it is $1,303 away from reaching its goal of $15,000. If you’d like to donate, here is the link (URL: https://goo.gl/pEq6hz).
Final Score: 7/10.
Here is the Sally Face Episode One: Strange Neighbors Trailer:
Sally Face is now available for PC on Steam for $2.99.