Waking up inside a castle on a remote island, unsure of how she arrived or why that unusually unpleasant doll seems to be...watching her, Anna is filled with doubts. All she is certain of is that man in the bowler hat seems to have the answers, so she pursues him. You have been invited along, too, dear player, welcomed inside as Simogo's valued guests to playtest and experience Device 6. Turning conventions sideways and upside down, the written word is your map as well as your host in this remarkably unique, originally designed and bizarrely surreal narrative puzzle adventure. Everything here—design, interactions, graphics and sounds—is part of the game.
After an opening sequence that's deliciously similar to that of a James Bond film, the first thing you notice about Device 6 is its profusion of text. Tapping, dragging and turning your mobile device, follow the narration as if down a path, though, and it feels truly like you're playing a point-and-click game. Is it a game? Or did you somehow wind up inside Simogo's psychological testing facilities, caught unawares? You're expected to play with format and structure, manipulating what you read, see and hear, as you seek out solutions and gather information requisite to carrying on. Three-dimensional photographs not only illustrate and punctuate the narrative, they also serve as puzzle input terminals. Clues are found by reading the text and studying the images or sometimes presented to you in audio clips. To make any sense of it, you'll have to stop to think and consider fully what you've just experienced. A bit of backtracking is required as well while you make computations and deductions. Keep nearby a pen and paper—or a friend to act as your secretary—among the feats you'll need to accomplish: sifting through the beautifully useless to find the disturbingly useful.
Analysis: I suspect that, by describing Device 6, I might be taking something away from your experience of it. Walking blind into this creatively interactive slice of art and amusement, no pre-conceived notions or opinions, is probably to your advantage. In which case, perhaps you should stop reading this review and return later to compare how your own assessment matches up with mine. I'll wait here until your return; it should take only a couple hours to complete the experimen...um, experience.
If you are not fond of reading mystery novellas, that shouldn't put you off from this game but it could be a hindrance. Likewise, as some clues are presented in the audio clips, you might not hear a needed bit of information and find yourself frustrated. Not all, but most solutions can only be found through combining various elements. It makes you think but it does make you feel quite good about doing it. Because there's minimal guidance regarding what to do or how to go on, many puzzles feel obscure and abstruse. That is until, you suddenly notice, the answer's staring directly at you and wearing a patiently polite smile. It's very gratifying to unravel these brain prickling riddles plus, after each of the six chapters the game engages you in a direct conversation, wanting to know how you feel and think, genuinely interested in you. We all love that feeling of being center stage, no? Yet there is a level of discomfort to go along with it, plus plenty of ironic pokes at the fourth wall that are surprisingly effective. This is probably because Device 6 is immensely artistic, yet humbly so, in that it welcomes you inside its fancy parlor and carries you around on its shoulders like an overly chummy old relative, coming too closely into your personal space while continually flattering you with compliments and courtesy.
Device 6 serenades you with song, woos you with images and poetry, bribes you with points and the desire to know just...why. In the end, will you leave as either a doubter or a believer? Whatever it is, this highly engaging game is expert at doing it.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 2. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.