My favorite games are the ones that tell a story. Games that get your heart racing and brain racking not only at the challenge of the puzzles, but also the way the story twists and turns. Games like The Silent Age, Year Walk, The Tipping Point, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP -- these are my kind of game.
Today, I’m going to share with you one of my absolute favorite story-centric games. It’s called DEVICE 6, by Swedish developer Simogo (also the creative forces behind Year Walk). Described as a “a surreal thriller in which the written word is your map, as well as your narrator”, this stylish creation will provide you with one of the most inventive and engrossing experience ever.
Please Stand By
DEVICE 6 begins with you as Anna, who wakes up in a strange castle on a strange island, with no recollection of how or why she got there. As she wanders around to find the truth behind the island, things only to seem grow stranger. There are creepy dolls and statues in the hallways, cryptic audio recordings that play suddenly as she walks by, and doors locked by puzzles.
Unlike conventional games, Device 6 unfolds in text. There are no visible characters or control pads. Just carefully laid out text, with some eerie black-and-white photographs and the occasional videos in between. But as you swipe your way through the story, the text shifts in structure to represent the scene. When Anna moves to the right, so does the text. When Anna is descending a staircase, the text plunges down the page in a staggered motion to form steps.
Most of the time you will find yourself physically turning your iPad to keep up with the twisting and turning of the text. At one point, Anna looks into a mirror and the text is displayed backwards, forcing you to hold your iPad in front of an actual mirror.
The game is divided into six chapters, each followed by a strange questionnaire which further adds to the stylish, ’60s spy thriller feel. Every chapter ends with Anna hitting an obstacle which requires of a password or some sort, and the only way to find it is to retrace your steps and analyze what you have read, seen, or heard.
A wonderful thing about DEVICE 6 is its well-written narrative. The final chapter concludes the story nicely. It is one of those stories that leave you with mixed feelings: you are satisfied with the ending, but on the other hand you can’t help wanting to explore the world more.
You Need to Know
DEVICE 6 is a linear game in which you play continuously from Chapter 1 to Chapter 6. The game automatically saves your progress, and you can come back any time to your last uncompleted chapter. You can’t go back to a chapter once you’ve completed it, but you can reset your progress via iOS Settings. Based on my experience, it should take about 5–6 hours to complete the game.
As I’ve mentioned in the post title, I believe DEVICE 6 is better suited for the parents, although older kids can also enjoy the game. Mild violence and some mature themes are present in the app which are more suitable for ages 12+. The app does not contain ads or in-app purchases.
Things I Like
Since I finished playing it a few months ago, I’ve been recommending DEVICE 6 to just about anyone I know has an iPad. It’s won a multitude of awards, including Best Overall Puzzle Game at IGN. That is how good it is. It’s the perfect marriage between literature and game, and occasionally I wonder when we’ll see all ebooks made interactive and engaging like this.
Seasoned players will appreciate the puzzle designs in the app. The puzzles themselves are tricky, but fair. Some puzzles are multilayered, requiring you to solve them in steps. In one chapter, I had to scribble down notes from an audio recording, use the note to find the required clues, and finally use the clues to conjure a lock combination.
Keen observation is definitely required, as sometimes clues may be hidden in plain sight. Based on my experience, you’re likely to move back and forth through the story to find clues so have paper and pen ready.
Besides the inventive presentation and challenging puzzles, DEVICE 6 also has terrific sound design. Sound effects follow you throughout the story: footsteps, knocks, the pressing of buttons. The background music picks up and tones downs at the right moments, sending chills down your spine. The app recommends wearing a headphone as you play, and I strongly agree.
A fantastic marriage of storytelling and gaming, DEVICE 6 is one of the most rewarding iOS games I have ever played. The inventive presentation creates an immersive playing environment, as does the slick ’60s art and terrific sound designs. A must-play.
App was purchased by us.