Game Review: Device 6

Transient

I've read books on my iPad before, but never on my iPhone.The screen was always too small and the text layout was too confined. Device 6 overcomes that by doing interactive fiction in a way that's never been done before.

The story follows Anna, who wakes up in an unfamiliar house without knowing how she got there. She has an empty stomach, an empty pack of cigarettes, a splitting headache and no idea what's going on. She decides to explore the house and investigate the strange manor. It's good, but nothing too original or groundbreaking, though it's genuinely creepy at times. What's truly incredible about Device 6 is how it tells the story. As you scroll through the story on your iPhone and read about how Anna walks down a flight of stairs, you'll hear footsteps on stairs. You'll hear knocking as you read about knocking on a study door. The game fills in all the gaps that you've got to fill in on your own when you read a boring old novel without the technical splendor on display here. 

But to what end? The game could just as easily be an audiobook, but developer Simogo didn't stop there. It incorporates your iDevice in ways that have never been done before, but make so much intuitive sense that you'll be amazed that nobody's thought of these ideas before. The text is laid out like the floor plan of the house, so when you read about Anna turning left down a hallway, you'll rotate your device to the left and continue scrolling in that direction. The game doesn't use the accelerometer to do this; it's simply laid out that way. It sounds gimmicky on paper, but is implemented in a way that only enhances the experience.

Device 6 is split up into several chapters. You must complete all the puzzles in a given chapter before advancing to the next one. As you read, Anna may stumble upon a safe or a screen and some buttons will pop up on your iOS device for you to interact with. You'll read on in the chapter for clues about how to solve these puzzles and can scroll back, twisting and turning your device along the way, to input whatever codes you think you've found. The puzzles are difficult enough that you'll feel satisfied solving them, like you got your money's worth, but not so difficult that you'll be hung up on them for hours and frustrated at the game. It definitely hurts the game's replay value, but I'm sure with some time between playthroughs, you'll have a similar experience. 

The design of the game itself is incredible. As you scroll through the story, the text formatting, visuals (that change perspective as you scroll, a very clever touch), and puzzles will leave you breathless. It all has a very polished iOS 7 style feel to it, but the visuals are predominately black and white photographs made to feel like you're walking through an old house. At no point do they clash; you're using your device in a way that you're used to, but using it to explore a very far removed world. What's more, the game even integrates your device into the experience of the story in mind-blowing ways that I won't spoil here. 

Like Sometimes You Die, this is a game that redefines what can be done with an iOS device. I played Device 6 on my iPhone 5s without any issues and I was amazed at how enjoyable it was on a small screen. I usually read books on my iPad, but the way it was designed made it easy to digest and fun for an iPhone. I look forward to playing on my iPad to see if there are any design changes or if the experience is enhanced by a larger screen.

At only $3.99, this game is among the more expensive iOS games out there, but it is certainly worth it. You'll get hours of entertainment out of this game (Compare that to $12 for a 90-minute movie you can only watch once) and have something buzzing around in your head even when you're not playing, like you're in the middle of a great novel and can't wait to start reading it again. 

Find Device 6 on the iOS App Store here.