Device 6 [$3.99] is the newest project from developer Simogo — an independent team that has quickly risen to the cream of the crop among iOS developers. But you won't find endless runners or dual-stick shooters in their repertoire — with games like 2012’s Beat Sneak Bandit [$2.99] and this year’s Year Walk [$3.99], Simogo has shown that they know how to utilize the platform’s strengths like few others are doing. In Device 6, Simogo brings that same relentless ambition to the genre of interactive fiction and crafts an experience unlike any other I’ve encountered on iOS.

Device 6 starts out with an old cinema-like opening credit scene — an artistic sentiment you'll come across time and time again throughout the adventure. Before you know it, you begin the first chapter and start moving through the text, which reads like a mix between a classic mystery novel and a B-movie thriller. You play as a girl named Anna who wakes up in a mysterious room that appears to be part of some kind of large castle of sorts. As you read through the text, you follow Anna from one creepy room to another, in search of the meaning behind the castle and why she is there.

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The rooms that are described in the text are separated from each other in some pretty creative ways that keep the player engaged throughout, whether it's something as simple as flipping the text upside down or falling down stair steps of words. But the real action happens in the pictures, which are like little windows into the world that the text describes. They move in parallax with the scrolling of the text — which is a nifty little trick for revealing the rooms to players slowly with an added sense of suspense. These windows are also often where the game's puzzles take place, often times giving the player toggles to switch through or even just an important piece of information.

The puzzles in Device 6 aren't terribly innovative, but they do take a significant amount of focus to complete. By forcing the player to reread every single bit of text and pay attention to every sound, they achieve the goal of getting the player to pour over and appreciate every detail of the game's writing and design. It does take a bit of time to adjust to the kinds of observations Device 6 asks you to make, but it’s exciting to know that any detail could be a clue that opens up the next chapter of the story.

To pile on more compliments to the design of Device 6, the various sounds and bits of music sprinkled throughout really add to the immersion of the story. The sound design of the game takes what would otherwise be an interesting piece of interactive fiction and transforms it into a full game experience — one that might even send a few shivers down your spine on occasion. Each sound effect is meticulously crafted, down to the old distorted recordings or even Anna's quiet footsteps as she walks through the eerie old castle. As the game advises, get a decent pair of headphones and let the sounds immerse you in the mystery.

I understand that there are plenty of arguments to be made for why Device 6 is in fact not a game at all. After all, the game is mostly text and features very little of what we traditionally refer to as “gameplay”. And while there is a strange scoring and feedback system built in, it was the only feature that felt a little out of place here. Regardless of what you want to call Device 6, one thing is for sure: If you’re at all open-minded, you’re sure to be creeped out, entertained, and thoroughly delighted by its inventive approach to interactive storytelling. Trust me — once you finish Chapter Six, you'll be thinking about this one for weeks.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • otawong

    Simply a fantastic game. If you were waiting for a review, I hope this convinces you to give this game a spin. I've played the game through multiple times just to enjoy the story again.

    I'm hopeful that they will release some more chapters or books as IAP.

  • Lazer Kat

    Great game
    5 stars earned
    But Bumpy Rd is sort of an endless runner.

  • heresandypandy

    Interesting comment about the feedback/scoring system. Without spoiling anything, I'd say it's as important a part of the game's plot as any of the "book" text.

    • dwerny

      I agree. Not sure the reviewer *got* that part.

      Amazing game. Definitely had me thinking about it for days afterward.

      Someone with a lot of free time needs to write up some lore for HAT and the island.

    • ejfarraro

      Agreed that the reviewer missed that point. It felt weird (but intentionally so) in the same way that you can tell something is weird in Portal.

  • Love!

    There are no achievements :(

    • Love!

      in it* lol.

  • Slusho

    Sounds a lot like the book House of Leaves.

    • basil

      I got that vibe

    • JudahJames

      House of Leaves is a classic book and I made the connections too while playing Device 6. Love the mind f#ck of this type of game/book. More plz!

  • http://www.onebagtravel.com/ OneBagTravel

    This is a hard sell for me. I'm a big fan of simogo and even this is a stretch. This wouldn't be the first time I bought into the hype of a game only to be let down. Hmm.

    • daniel schroeder

      If you're a big fan of Simogo, how hard of a sell can a $4 game be?

      • http://www.onebagtravel.com/ OneBagTravel

        That's 4 bucks towards a game I might not even like or play. Throw away $4 and tell me how it feels.

      • daniel schroeder

        That's a really good analogy. Is Simogo, the developer you are a big fan of, supposed to represent the trash?

        It felt great, by the way.

  • inolasco

    I just have one question before I buy this game: are there any sudden "screamers" in the game? I wanted to play year walk, but I saw a video early in the game which showed some ghost suddenly screaming into the screen out of nowhere, which I'm uncomfortable with on a game that asks you to listen closely to the sounds with headphones. I'm all for psychological spooks, but hate those cheap "frightening" tricks

    • scratchohey

      No jump scares in the traditional sense. There IS a thing that screams in chapter 2 or 3, but you have to intentionally trigger it yourself and it's so obvious that you can see it coming. Come to think of it, I don't think you need to mess with it at all.

    • ejfarraro

      It's mostly creepy / suspenseful. I don't recall any of those cheap tricks, which I also hate.

  • Papa Deuce

    This game might be too cerebral for me. I enjoy "different", but I hate when I can't figure things out.

  • Eidaven

    Is this game creepy/scary at all? I'm not a fan of that kind of genre. I remember the first time I played Bioshock... I played for about 30 minutes and then I had to turn it off. That kind of stuff doesn't vibe with me well.

    • heresandypandy

      No, it has a similar feel to perhaps Lost or something like that. More intrigue/mystery than fear.

    • ejfarraro

      It's a little creepy. My girlfriend enjoyed the game overall, but had to look away / turn off the sound when we were playing it. The combination of a couple "slightly creepy" images combined with unsettling music might be off-putting to people who are easily scared.

      If you couldn't handle Bioshock, you might have a hard time with this one unfortunately.

  • Adsinjapan

    I think that odd scoring system throughout each of the chapters is actually intentionally "off" so to speak. Without giving any spoilers away, what you get at the END is a bit of a setup for the story itself.

    Damn! I want to say so much, but if I did, it would ruin the fun!!

  • k4s3

    Really interesting stuff so far!

    Question: is there a way to start over, as in start a new game from Chapter One? I want my wife to play this, but I want her to have the complete experience. I assume un- and re-installing would do the trick, but is there a less clumsy way?

    • scratchohey

      The game should give you a "play again?" button when you're REALLY done. Make sure you play past the credits.

  • iTester

    I am still waiting for simogo Halloween sale. Guys comeon

DEVICE 6 Reviewed by Luke Larsen on . Rating: 5