Originally released back in December of 2016, Sally Face quickly became a cult favorite among gamers. Since then, a quick scroll through the horror games or cosplay sides of Tumblr, Twitter, or other miscellaneous sites, would undoubtedly be a creation in honor of the game. Now, here we are in 2021, and players on the Nintendo Switch have been graced with a full port, widening the audience and bringing in new fans.
Sally Face is a simplified sidescroller that lands perfectly in the narrative side of psychological horror. The titular character, Sal Fisher, acts as the main protagonist. A young boy with a mysterious past, who has donned a mask covering his entire face as a prosthetic, moves into the Addison Apartments with his father, but things don’t remain so simple for so long.
Split up into five separate episodes, the adventures Sal begins to embark on start off slowly, but don’t mistake the slower pace for a lack of depth. A string of perplexing murders start tipping the dominoes, so in the midst of Sal meeting new friends and barely beginning high school, his role in everything becomes more and more clear.
The controls are incredibly simple – as a basic sidescroller on a single movement plane, you move left and right, and instead of the point-and-click model, you use your “A” button to interact with objects around you. The “X” button opens your inventory, and as you gather more equipment, the “L” and “R” buttons will begin to have use.
As more inexplicable events begin to occur, an entire conspiracy starts to align. Sal and his friends begin to uncover more history behind the Addison Apartments and the entire town of Nockfell, and the story truly begins to pick up more as the episodes continue. Sally Face definitely plays out more as a puzzle game, where you might have to backtrack at times to grab a specific item you saw earlier, or even finding the code to gain new information, even if it isn’t necessary to complete the main story. As I finished the first two episodes within a couple hours, and my completionist heart believed I had discovered every secret, the 62% staring back at me at the end made my jaw drop, as I realized there was so much more to investigate. And yes, I had to go back and do it all again because I needed answers.
The incredibly unique artwork is a driving force. While it can certainly be quite unsettling, especially paired with the ominous music lingering in the background, it’s addicting. Close-ups of characters in this visual novel of sorts made me pause and appreciate the details.
As a fan of metal music to begin with, I had no idea coming into this game that it played such a pivotal role in the life of Sal and his friends. The years go by in-game, and more posters are hung on the walls, a new song is “released” that you can find and listen to.
While I never found myself jumping at any of the more “jump scare” kind of moments, I did find myself becoming more disturbed as the screams of the dead were ringing in my ears, or the horrifying mysteries began to piece together. I genuinely couldn’t stop thinking of this game as I took breaks to run an errand or even just grab something to eat, I had to find out what happened next, and that’s not too common for me.
In all honesty, there isn’t much to be said. While the pacing may be a little slow for some people, at least in the beginning, or searching the same room multiple times might become tedious to some, I found myself in way too deep to notice how much time had passed without checking the clock. Some may find it a bit too dialogue heavy, but for me, the creators did a great job at keeping players intrigued, and wanting to find out more.
Sally Face was a favorite on Steam, and for good reason. Bringing it onto the Switch brings it to the forefront for a whole new audience, and I truly believe the praise is well deserved. Especially for the extremely reasonable price of $14.99 on the Nintendo Switch, which includes all five episodes. I would easily recommend this unsettling horror game to anyone with a love of solving mysteries, especially in the grotesque style this game has to offer.