Top 50 Challenge – Device 6
For hundreds of years we've been reading printed words off paper pages and imagining the stories they tell. Device 6 preys on that convention, betraying your expectations, and delivering an engrossing tale that's hard to put down.
Yesterday, Jeff Cork issued a challenge to me to play this clever little iOS title. However, little did he know that I've been wanting to play the game since I first read his review a few weeks ago. This challenge was the perfect excuse to play something that could otherwise easily fall to the wayside. I love puzzle games, but Device 6 is a puzzle game unlike anything I've ever played before.
Device 6 is a game in much the same way that Heavy Rain and Telltale's The Walking Dead are games – it has a heavy focus on story but features enough interactivity to earn itself the title. Thankfully, Device 6's narrative is compelling. The story centers around a girl named Anna, who suddenly wakes up in a mysterious room with a searing headache and fading visions of a doll. As Anna continues to explore her artificial environment, she quickly realizes that some invisible Machavellian organization is testing her.
Much of what you experience in Device 6 reads like a novel, but developer Simogo has cleverly played with the conventions of written storytelling, laying out words in a stair pattern as Anna climbs stairs in the story, adding audio cues and sounds effects at just the right moments, and even including a few visual images. The visual images are key as they are often components in Device 6's puzzles. Not all of the game's puzzles are intuitive, but many of them are highly rewarding, as you'll have to pay close attention to the details of Anna's story to solve them. I often had to reread chapters in order to solve some of the puzzles, but this never felt exhausting or boring. In fact, I often felt like I was exploring a physical space – a sense that the written word has never really given me before.
Digital devices have completely changed the way that we can read stories, and yet most of our novels are still written in the same manner that they were decades ago. As an author who shamelessly plugs his own books, I've often dreamed of interactive storytelling that experiments with the form, so I'm glad to see that Simogo has told a story that embraces the freedoms tablets provide while paying homage to the written form. Device 6 isn't the best game I've played this year, but it's so novel and clever that I'd love to see it make our top 50.