October 22, 2013 2:28 PM | John Polson
Simogo's Device 6 is billed as a "surreal thriller in which the written word is your map, as well as your narrator." While this may sound like a clever way to describe a text-based adventure or work of interactive fiction, Simogo has made a textual game quite different from what we've shared before.
I'm not well-learned in the ways of interactive fiction or text-heavy adventures. However, rather than hand off Device 6 to an editor who is, I figured my experience with the game could be valuable to bring new people into the genres, as those who love them have probably already digested this delectable app.
Simogo is well known for creativity and are the minds behind Year Walk, Bumpy Road, and Beat Sneak Bandit. Device 6 is also dripping with experiments, but in how the text and images are displayed and navigated, all laced up with some tricky puzzles and a mysterious, sometimes haunting, storyline.
Most of the puzzles had little to do with the written text. The pieces to the brain-scratchers were mainly found in the interactive audio-visual images. I felt like a detective, with a pen and paper to sort all the details. (Pocket Gamer has a great guide to help you through the puzzles.)
While not the star of the puzzles, the written text was the star of the show for me, even with its hits and misses. It plays with you much more than you play with it. It popped up where I least expected it, in areas I've already passed by, and literally in every corner of the screen. It moved in a way that made me feel like I was moving with it.
The presentation of the text was clever and seldom frustrating. Seeing text in new patterns and shapes often made me laugh and made the words feel like they had more dimensions. Sometimes the text was stacked on top of each other and made me lose focus on what I was reading, though when the text reflected what the main character was thinking, this may have been its purpose.
The navigation the text at times was a little more frustrating. A couple of puzzle elements may be separated by loads of text you must scroll through. The game had audio clips that would play before my eyes were reading those words, forcing me to change my scrolling habits. I tend to want the text I am reading not to be at the edge of the screen, but this was the only way to prevent an audio-visual desync.
The orientation of the text had me constantly flipping my iPad, which lead to my charger cord and headphones getting horribly tangled. I eventually got rid of both to ease the rotations. In this regard, the text was making me be a new kind of active reader, using muscles to move the digital book and possibly avoiding a kind of lethargy that sets in with being stationary.
All this is to say, I've never had this much of an "experience" with English text before. It's hard to say if anything that was unenjoyable was merely so because it was so disruptive, but Simogo's Device 6 has me wanting more text that I can play with. Or have it play with me. Or both.