GAME REVIEW: DEVICE 6
iOS 5.1 or higher
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
$3.99 in App Store
"If the HAT doesn't fit your head, we'll adjust it for you."
After playing through all six chapters and an epilogue of Device 6, I'm pretty sure the above quote lifted from Chapter 6 regarding an adjustment relates to your head, not to a hat. Because, honestly, I feel like my brain has been scrambled a bit. I have never played anything like this. Ever.
Anna, the character in Device 6, awakens in a tower room on an island with no recollection of how she got there. She has a pounding headache, a desire for a cigarette, and is more than a little creeped out by the weird doll in the room with her. Through a window she sees a lighthouse and the ocean and so she begins her journey to find a way out through cleverly designed puzzles scattered throughout the six chapters.
The graphics, the musical score, and especially the mysterious man in the bowler hat lends a noir-ish/60s spy thriller ambience to Device 6. A good comparison might be likening it to "The Prisoner" TV series with Patrick McGoohan or maybe The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Throughout Device 6 there is a phantasmagorical weirdness that plays around with what's real, what's not as well as what's essential to solve a puzzle and what's not. Is Anna having a nightmare? Or is there an even more sinister game afoot? Is she really traversing Bear Bridge to solve the riddle three obfuscating bears present or is it all just a fantastic illusion? After a strange conversation of sorts with a man in Hatter's Well, I wondered if she, too, had not fallen down a rabbit hole like Alice.
The puzzles are unique and creative, even if a little sparse in the last couple of chapters. In fact, there are no puzzles at all in Chapter 6 or in the Epilogue. Clues are hidden in the text, what you hear, and images you see. Device 6 doesn't have the "feel" of any game I've ever played. Part of that is due to the way it's played. For example, the player physically interacts with the text by turning/swiping the iPad in all directions to follow Anna throughout her journey. When the narrative says that Anna goes up to another level via a spiral staircase, the text becomes a spiral staircase. In Chapter 5, The Show, Anna travels below ground level in a vertical transporter and, yes, the text descends as you read.
Device 6 requires your complete attention, and I found two things of immense help. First, read through the entire chapter, paying attention to images and recordings and diagrams before attempting to solve any puzzle. This helped me become accustomed to navigating through what felt like a maze at first. The second thing is to keep a notepad handy for jotting down notes. Yes, notes. Chapter 4, An Inverted Funeral, was particularly challenging, not so much for the level of difficulty of the puzzles, but because the entirety of it was just so damn creepy and weird. At the end of each completed chapter, you receive 100 points, and you can only tally 600 points by the end of the game. The questionnaires at the end of each chapter are odd but also entirely suitable for the mysterious feeling of Device 6, and there are no right/wrong answers. For example:
If there's a weakness with Device 6, it lies with the inability to save progress within a chapter although it is saved upon completion of a chapter. The chapters aren't that lengthy and can easily be finished in a sitting; but they do require your undivided attention. I just wished for the capability to bookmark my place, so to speak, because my life doesn't lend itself to prolonged stretches of uninterrupted time.
Overall, this game is worth every penny of $3.99, and I hope Simogo and others are encouraged to develop more games that offer such a different experience in iOS gaming. Device 6 is wonderfully unique and about as different from Angry Birds or Candy Crush as it gets. Thank God.