Device 6 is the newest release from Simogo, a two man development team hailing from Malmo, Sweden. They are known for Year Walk, Beat Sneak Bandit, Kosmo Spin and Bumpy Road. Each of these titles were known for being different in terms of their mechanics, gameplay and style, repeatedly proving that the duo from Sweden should be synonymous with art and quality when it comes to the iOS format. Like its predecessors, Device 6 evokes a Clue-inspired sense of analysis and a novella approach to story in order to proceed throughout your adventure. Put on your thinking cap, because this Device 6 brings about the sleuth in us all.
Device 6 immediately sets itself apart from nearly every single puzzle game I have ever played on the iOS format. Heck, there isn't even a console or PC title I can think of that resembles Device 6. Here's a rough description: take The 7th Guest (remember that?), throw in Sherlock Holmes, an inspiring narrative, Cast Away, Nancy Drew grown up and some Alfred Hitchcock to boot. Let it be known that Device 6 is NOT for everyone, especially those who easily give up at puzzles. Because Device 6 shows a mastery of not only puzzle game mechanics themselves, but spy/detective narratives where puzzles are again at the forefront. The culminating effect was that my mind got attacked from both sides, from reading the story itself and searching back and forth throughout the text and pictures in order to find clues so I can solve the current puzzle at hand. But what Simogo ingeniously does, is that they base the difficulty of the sequential levels in accordance to how fast you solved the previous level and your responses to a short survey that they give at the end of each stage. The resulting effect is that I was constantly hit sideways; just when I thought I was easily able to figure a puzzle out, boom, Device 6 drops a small detail that throws off my train of thought and forces me to re-evaluate the problem.
While I have encountered my fair share of puzzle titles across the board, I have never found one as engaging, beautiful, shocking, and outright thought-provoking as Device 6. Without a doubt, the Swedish team that scripted this story, developed these puzzles and created their execution are prodigies in terms of game design. In terms of its actual story, Device 6 acts as a piece of meta-fiction. It makes you, the player/reader, explore the text as deep as you would like. But you are only rewarded with progression if your abilities of observation, analysis and memory (and mathematics occasionally) are sound.
Device 6 starts off like a book. Anna, the protagonist, wakes up in a strange mansion and has a case of amnesia. None of that is relevant, because she is locked away in this mansion and it is up to you to solve the riddles and puzzles Anna encounters throughout her endeavors. But what is most impressive, is how beautifully Device 6 presents this to you.
At first, Device 6 reads like an e-book, as if you were navigating one giant PDF file with your touchscreen. But what starts to happen is that you encounter 3D pictures scattered throughout the text, whose backgrounds and images scroll as you continue through the text, providing a large sense of depth as to what you are looking at. Device 6 breaks the fourth wall in order to put you, the player, in Anna's shoes. As Anna starts descending down a ladder, the text breaks and slows down to reflect her descent, while placing audio cues perfectly reflecting this action as well. Another scene similar to this is when you are scrolling through the text (with one sentence showing up along the equator of the screen), and Anna enters a dark room. As you scroll, a wall of black cuts off the sentence, and you are surprised with a light clicking on and a full page of text appearing on the screen out of nowhere.
Even more ingenious is Device 6's delivery of its puzzle system. Here is the shortest puzzle I can describe throughout my ventures with Anna -- the first one (spoilers of the first puzzle incoming). Anna wakes up, finds a painting of an orangutan with a number painted on its corner, presumably the year this story takes place. As you progress from room to room, Anna finds that she is alone in this strange manor. She passes by a machine with a left and right button on top of it, which you see in a picture in the middle of the text and can actually push its buttons and hear them beep in response. Since you do not know how this mechanism is meant to function, you must simply continue on. Afterwards you pass by a warped scene containing numerous framed pictures on the wall, with each frame containing a single word. You also pass by a machine you can punch four digits into. Punching in the number from the monkey picture does nothing.
Afterwards, Anna encounters a staircase, and the text splits into two directions, depending on whether or not you go downstairs. Let's say that you followed the text into the other upstairs rooms. You eventually hear a voice recording repeat itself from a speaker saying that the passcode is a combination of the number found between orange and yellow (the orangutan's colors), the number found between "hope" and "lies", and the channel the speaker is speaking from. Go a little bit further, and you find a surveillance cam with one of the camera channels focused on a tape recorder. If you go back near the beginning, you will find that hope and lies are two of the framed words in the warped scene. If you pan back and forth, you can eventually find a framed number. Add the orangutan number, the framed number and the tape recorder channel together, and you finally get the passcode. But the passcode isn't even the solution to the level, there is still the left and right buttoned machine to worry about..
Let it be known, the only reason why Device 6 did not get a perfect score is because I know that it's not for everyone. Just when I thought I was getting used to the puzzles in Device 6, I would always encounter some form of fright or immense suspense brought on by Anna's circumstance. This kept me thoroughly engaged and inspired me to find out how she got there, and why was this happening to her. By this point in time, I still have trouble trying to decide whether or not Device 6 was a text-based game or a story with video game elements added in, but neither of those choices adequately describe it. In hindsight, I realize now that Device 6 can be easily categorized with one word: art. With such idiosyncrasies, you might ask yourself should you buy it? Well, that's a puzzle only you can solve. But if you think you have a decent amount of problem solving skills, I will simply leave you all with a hint -- yes!