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Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
DEVICE 6 ($3.99 Universal) is a story-based mystery that will initially have you wondering why more adventure games aren’t text-based. As you begin reading the dialogue, you slowly begin to realize that the text itself is part of the puzzle.
The game wants you to follow along by switching back and forth from a fixed portrait to a fixed landscape mode, which means DEVICE 6 will have you swiping screens left and up, right and down in all sorts of different directions. One moment the text reads it should, from left to right, the next it is turned around ninety degrees and reads with letters stacked one upon another from down to up. Utilizing a technique that can only be implemented on a touch screen, the author of the game’s story line will quite literally lead you on with each written phrase, word by word.
When you read a good, descriptive narrative, you begin to make a mental image in your head of the surroundings as they unfold. Each new word you read helps make the picture in your mind a little clearer. “Looking down a long dark hallway you notice two slightly open doors, one on the right, and one on the left…” Only this time the manner in which the words are read serve a purpose as well. You start to memorize the direction that the text itself takes in addition to where the character you are reading about is going.
You may be comfortably reading a passage, swiping from left to right, reading all about what noises they hear and what sort of objects are scattered in the room behind the door on the left, then all of a sudden the page no longer advances the same way it did just a few words ago. It is as if the story ended. Then you realize that not only did the character reach a dead-end in the story, but so did you with the mechanics in how the pages of the story advance.
You find yourself scrolling back, re-reading the words backwards as they describe (in reverse) the character walking into the dead-end room on the left. You are looking for something that not only you may have missed on the screen as you were reading — like text leading off of the page in another direction — but also something within the context of the story that the character you are reading about may have missed as well. There are even different audible segments that get louder as you approach a certain ‘page’ of the story, and quieter as you read on past that particular “page.”
All your back reading is done in an effort to see where either you, or the character in the story, could have gone wrong. Then you find it: a place in the story where you made a choice. You may not have realized you made a choice, but you did none the less. And now in order to continue with the adventure, you must swipe the written page up, rather than left, as you had been doing. This time the you both will enter the room and the text on the right.
I have read choose-your-own-adventure books before, and I have played many visually oriented, map-based mystery games in my time. But this is the first time that I have ever done both simultaneously. That is not to say that the game is void of other interactive elements. There are riddles to unravel and puzzles to unlock. Some clues are visible, some are read in the story’s narrative, and others are heard in the game’s audio track. The game does require concentration and attention to almost every detail. Many of the visual elements in the ‘book’ are touchable and reveal clues themselves. Other such elements are actual puzzles that you must unlock in order to reveal a different direction that the chapter can take.
There are six ‘chapters’ in the ‘book’ that is DEVICE 6 which will keep you very busy this weekend. If you find that you really enjoy this sort of thinking game, and you will really need to think in this game, then you may also want to try out Year Walk ($3.99 Universal) and its accompanying app titled Year Walk Companion (Free, Universal) created by the same development team.