Device 6 is a surreal interactive puzzle and adventure game by Simogo, developer of the excellent thriller Year Walk. You play as Anna, who wakes in a strange place without a clue where she is and in desperate need for a cigarette — perhaps to alleviate her headache, caused due to her lack of breakfast. Ok, so the game doesn't exactly ratchet up the tension right out of the gate, but before long, that all shifts. You meet lunchroom mannequins and doll heads, and the spectre of doom is everywhere (if you're into that kinda thing).
Yes, the game is bite-size and bizarre, but that doesn't mean it's not well built. Reading the game's story will twist your mind in pretzels, as you'll often have to scroll up, down, flip the screen, or read backwards to pick up where the text goes. The result is unorthodox, but satisfying: An adventure that confuses you as much as it does the protagonist. You'll need to listen to the clues, interact with numerous strange objects that could be equally at home in a Victorian novel as an atomic age sci-fi film, and work through the multi-layered clues to advance in this strange world.
Though one could confuse the game with a simple text-based novella, the ever-present soundtrack (this game requires headphones) and some moments of genuinely challenging puzzle design make Device 6 stand out:
Listen up: Device 6 is more than just a strange text-based adventure where you'll interact with the occasional puzzle. Many of the clues are of the auditory variety, requiring you to remember codes and clues in order to solve the puzzles at the end of the levels. At other points, the audio adds flavor and depth to the world: You hear Anna's footsteps and hear her conversations, so the story often feels like an old-timey radio play that you're taking part of.
Hours or minutes to burn: Everyone solves puzzle-based games at his or her own pace; some of the Monkey Island puzzles would take me minutes, while others (like Mist) would take me hours. Most iOS games are built for short play sessions, so backtracking over huge segments of game would seemingly be a pain. But Device 6 is divided into manageable chapters, where all the clues you'll need to solve only take a few seconds to scroll through using your touchscreen.
But that doesn't mean they're easy. Given the limited interactive parts of the game, you'd think that the puzzles would be easy to solve, and if not, some random button mashing could handle it. That is not so. While most puzzles can be solved in a quick iPhone session on the bus, many will require you to double-back through parts of the story (and interactive features) you've seen before in order to see things in a new light, or write down a new clue. This isn't my first rodeo, and a few of the puzzles had been completely stumped until I went over an old part of the text again and discovered a new twist on its meaning.
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