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Mood Pieces: DEVICE 6 – A Surreal Thriller Where The Text Is Your Map

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This installment of Mood Pieces is about DEVICE 6 by Simogo, a weird and stylish piece of interactive fiction available on iOS devices.

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I first got to know the game company Simogo, whose game Year Walk had been sitting on my iPad for some time waiting for a suitable moment. It looked like exactly the sort of game I like – experimental indie with a basic idea that looked really atmospheric. When I finally tried the game, it ended up being a disappointment. As a minor spoiler, the first three puzzles involved memorizing a long left-right-left-right instruction twice in a row, and the third involved memorizing something more difficult. I was in the game for the bleak alienated mood, and that killed it for me. I’ve done my share of writing notes for simplistic puzzles in the 80’s and 90’s, not really my cup of tea anymore. Or so I thought.

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When I was bitching about the former, two separate people recommended me to try Simogo’s next game, DEVICE 6, which looked very intriguing right from the start. It’s hard to describe what DEVICE 6 actually is. In a way it’s an interactive e-book with puzzles, but in another way it’s like the love child or a text adventure and a Prezi presentation done by a graphic designer who’s really into Bauhaus and minimalism. And I hasten to say that this is purely a compliment.

The main gimmick of DEVICE 6 is that the text creates the overlay of the surroundings for the reader and the character. If you turn around a corner, the text does a 90 degree twist and you need to turn the iPad or iPhone around to be able to follow it. Playing the game is essentially reading the flowing text which you can follow by swiping and trying to figure out solutions for the puzzles. There are also layered old 3D-ish pictures, audio and some video, all of which are essential to getting ahead in the game, in addition to being there to build up the atmosphere.

The puzzles themselves are technically simple, ie. they rarely need any finger acrobatics outside of pressing a couple of buttons onscreen. Figuring out which buttons to press, though, is the thing. The puzzles are just hard enough, and yeah – at least a person of my cerebral caliber does need pen and paper to solve many of them. Because of the nature of the game and the story, weirdly enough I did not mind, but even enjoyed scribbling down notes after the initial hrhmhm. Between the chapters of the story you get an awesome chance to give some valuable customer feedback, which will make the game experience so much better for you.

DEVICE 6 is a pretty damn tight package for a small indie game. The excellent storytelling, graphical design, gameplay and pretty much everything mesh together to create a weird, creepy and in a twisted way very fun experience of interactive fiction. It’s experimental, but definitely a game and definitely art.

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