Text adventure games have certainly come a long way since Zork. Simogo (the developers behind previous iOS games Year Walk and Beat Sneak Bandit) turn the genre on its head, with the wonderfully surreal iOS brainteaser Device 6. Quite literally, in fact.
Taking a visual novel approach, Device 6 opens with the tale of Anna, who has woken up on a strange, remote island with little recollection of how she got there. Questions and mysteries abound. What is this strange place? Why is she there? And who is the mysterious man in the bowler hat that she encounters? As the story unfolds the text transforms through elegant swipes of the screen, the game requiring you to turn your device to progress. The written word becomes your path, leading you deeper into this bizarre adventure. Climb a spiral staircase and the text turns with you. Travel down in an elevator and the novel descends as well. It is an innovative and clever design, and one that only adds to the surreal atmosphere.
Indeed, Device 6 is a game absolutely dripping with atmosphere. From its jaunty 60s spy caper style opening to the wonderfully ominous use of sound, the game elevates itself beyond a mere text adventure into something far more affecting. To reveal more would do the game a disservice, but suffice to say that when answers eventually come they throw the previous twists and turns into sharp relief. And what twists and turns. Fabulously devious riddles provide the brainteaser aspect of the game, requiring lateral thinking to solve. At each point, these puzzles reinforce the overall style and atmosphere, adding to the surreal state of play.
To fans of games such as Myst and its sequels, Device 6 will be a welcome addition to the roster of great puzzle games, albeit a relatively short one. In fact, once your first playthrough is done it is actually beneficial to play again. With knowledge of the final resolution, the game’s surreal machinations are even more impressive. A real treat.