Let me start this review by telling you, avid video game fan, this is not a roast. A roast is the video-game review equivalent of a guy running out of a burning building screaming. Device 6 was a fun game, but to be honest I felt cheated about halfway through. Device 6 promised mystery, an interesting plot, an experience new to gaming. A product that truly took advantage of the native advantages of the mobile device. What I got was a puzzle game that did its work and indeed had a unique tactile element, but did not present the challenge to my mind that I was lead to believe.
I have to give some context here – when I found this game on a list for top games for mobile devices, it was proclaimed as a unique experience that had elements of a thriller, a mystery, and even action. Well, after a reasonably small fee I was reading a moderately lengthy exposition on the what, when, where and why of this game. If you do play this game be prepared to read a lot of lines of text that you don’t care about. Maybe it’s just me, but there was nothing compelling about the titular character or her responses to the gameplay. They were going for a jaded Londoner, but she ended up being unnaturally okay with some extremely weird things…
That leads us to the plot of this game. The protagonist, your character, is a young lady who is Shanghaied into a strange experiment involving mind control, empty castles littered with advanced technology and various devices that speak to you. Your goal is to escape these circumstances. Sometimes a talking bear will be the catalyst to get out, other times, a man on a screen is speaking directly to you.
This is a part of the game where I felt the plot creates bad dissonance. For example, in the first level you are being clearly directed by some mysterious agent. That is a totally reasonable way for a puzzle game to proceed. In the second level, the feel you get as the player is that some mistake or glitch in the system has given you a serendipitous opportunity to move on to the next level. It feels weird and instantly took me out of the game. So to sum it up, the atmosphere, the sort of 50’s World War 2-Era steampunk, the mystery, it all fell flat to me. It just didn’t feel consistent to me, no story.
Let’s talk about the gameplay. It is a puzzle game. The levels are strange geometric shapes that you walk through by rubbing the screen in a certain direction. It’s hard for me to explain this part, so just look at the picture below:
It may not be easy for you to understand what this means. The arrow with the perforated lines facing downwards is your path, and as you scroll down you encounter various different rooms, each with their own bizarre phenomenon. In case you are wondering why there is upside down text, if you scroll down the “hallway” and then take a right and another right, you are going down a parallel hallway and so you are encountering the phenomena described by the text on the left.
Typically you will encounter a safe, or a door at the beginning of the level. This is your door out. It presents some sort of riddle or challenge that you don’t have enough information to solve at the moment. So you are forced to inspect every inch of the level. You will find cryptic clues along the way until you find a “key” that allows you to understand the criteria by which you solve the puzzle. Here is an example – the door out was a safe with a clock on it, along with a compass. You had to find a pair of glasses that allow you to see invisible things, and then you had to go to different rooms to find invisible text that explains how you line up the compass needle and clock. There were also intermediary clues.
I didn’t play Myst very much in-depth (I thought the game was an absolute bore), but if it was anything like I remember it, Device 6 is an attempt to replicate that game. It is extremely lonely and it is very bizarre. What Device 6 doesn’t have in common with Myst is that its puzzles are very easy to solve. The only time I got frustrated (which is what should happen with a puzzle game) is when the minuscule graphics made it hard for me to see a critical part of the level.
Going back to Myst. the great thing about this game is the sheer loneliness – the emotion – that was part of the game. That made solving the puzzles so difficult. Device 6 could have been a great game if it was able to create an atmosphere like that, but instead, the lack of distractions makes solving the puzzles pretty straightforward. Maybe I have been exposed to too many works of David Lynch and Arthur Conan Doyle, but the highly derivative and usually annoying attempts at mystery storytelling this game makes were probably a waste of time.