Eight months after the successful release of Year Walk, the creators of Simogo have quickened the pace with the surreal text-based adventure Device 6, a thriller echoing the spy-film subgenre from the 1960s. This iOS platform game heavily relies on text to lead players through a remarkable and unsettling journey of a woman trying to find answers, with devastating results.
However to say that Device 6 is only a text-based game is inaccurate. The sentences that appear on the screen visually shape the narrative of Anna, a girl who wakes up in a mysterious castle on a deserted island. Anna has to pick up the pieces of her lost memory and pass a series of bizarre tests to uncover the truth behind the castle, and find out the identity of a man in a bowler hat who is stalking her throughout the game.
While guiding Anna, players literally move through the six chapters of text with her. As they swipe the touchscreen and interact with prompts, fragments of the novella skew and unfold around puzzles and images to produce one of the most unique storytelling experiences of the year.
Fans of Year Walk will be delighted to hear the return of composers Daniel Olsén and Jonathan Eng, whose works in Device 6 produce haunting yet peculiar audio, including a chiptune version of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries as well as catchy, 60s-inspired beats . Even with simple sounds like knocking on a door or descending a rickety staircase, I felt tension building up until the end of each chapter. The sound design in the game is just as significant as the visuals, and a combination of the two leaves players holding their breath in anticipation for what happens after their next swipe.
The most beautiful aspect of Device 6, much like Year Walk, is how the Simogo team crafts immersion within the small space of the iOS platform. The stories force you to interact in ways beyond touching the screen. It’s recommended that you play this game with a pen and paper by your side to take notes of codes and keep track of clues, or else you’ll be completely lost.
Beyond those elements, I wrote questions to myself and drew diagrams to take visual inventory of theories about the narrative and characters. In my history of gaming, it’s rare to play a game that invokes playful confusion to the point of an immediate second (or third!) playthrough after making it to the credits the first time. Even now, I’m planning a fourth with Device 6.
It’s difficult to argue with a $3.99 price tag and a couple of hours of your time. It’s also impossible to describe this title further without spoiling either the narrative or the experience, so all I can say is pick it up now. So far this year I’ve had my share of letdowns with AAA game titles, yet Simogo continues to deliver quality narratives and unforgettable audiovisual sensations that will continue to spark discussions between their fans.