Device 6 is a puzzle thriller text adventure from Simogo for iOS, the people who also brought us Year Walk at the beginning of 2013. The game is as much a novella as it is an adventure in the tradition of text adventure games of yore.
Device 6 presents you with a written story split into chapters that detail what happens to a woman called Anna, sorry no spoilers here. As you progress through each chapter, there are puzzles that need to be resolved to move forward. The puzzles have all the clues needed to solve them spread throughout the various points of each chapter. Some clues can be deduced from the narrative, whereas others can be found in images, or even presented as audio elements. It also has you scrolling the text in a way that requires you to turn your device upside down, left, right and even hold it up to a mirror at one point. All of this is how you follow Anna’s path.
As you follow Anna’s journey you will notice that there are various diagrams for Devices in each chapter. This is your first cue that all is not as it seems with you and Anna. In fact, your real first clue to what is going in is at the very beginning when the game assigns you what seems to be a random player name, but this is all part of the story too.
The game likes to break up chapters with what appears to be information-gathering on the part of Simogo, but by the second chapter interlude you realise that the game itself is presenting these interludes to you as if it was all part of your story, not Anna’s.
Device 6 likes to present you with some curly puzzles to solve, and they are not generally quickly solved puzzles either, with maybe the exception of the second puzzle in the first chapter. But therein lays Device 6’s main problems, for if you’re not a puzzle gamer then it can make you feel like a complete dunce. I solved only one puzzle by myself, following the clues. The rest I scratched my head at and just drooled like the village idiot I appear to be. Yes, I had to cheat to finish the game so I could review it. Device 6’s puzzles may not be for everyone and while this is a great game it can be offputting in this regard if you are not an avid reader as the clues are in the narrative and you will likely miss them like I did.
At times too, the audio clues can be drowned out by the game’s music or by the other sounds the game plays at various points. One example was the Three Bears chapter. After you press a button on the first bear you come across, the remaining bears will playback audio clues about a password puzzle. The issue I had was that the trumpet fanfare that was playing from the first bear kept drowning out the spoken audio from the next two bears, so I could not always hear what was being said. It took me about seven playbacks to piece it all together. That is either poor sound design or very intentional sound design.
Other than feeling like a dunce for pretty much all of the game, the narrative is a great read and the ending is not what I expected and still has me thinking about it three days later. I’m tempted to go back and play through quickly to make take a different choice at the end and see if it is exactly the same both ways.
So, should you play Device 6? If you are well read and like your puzzle clues well hidden, then yes. If you prefer to just capture pirate ships and plunder towns then go play Assassin’s Creed 4 and leave Device 6 to the not-so-dunderheaded people.
I will be seeing you on the Caribbean seas.
Device 6 is available now from Apple App Store.