Device 6 for iPhone (US$3.99, universal) was recently featured in Apple's Indie Game Showcase, and for good reason. It feels like a contemporary take on Zork and other text-based games I loved years ago. It combines fun puzzles, clever design, great visuals and compelling story into an all-around enjoyable experience.
But is it a game? It's hard to say. On one hand, Device 6 is something you play. You play as Anna, who awakes to find herself in an unfamiliar castle. She can see a lighthouse through a window and that's about it. There are no instructions or D-pad. To figure out what's going on, just start reading, get moving and begin the adventure.
It's tempting to think of Device 6 as a novel, but that's inaccurate. For one thing, the story's text isn't displayed top-to-bottom. The orientation often changes and you've got to turn our iPhone left, right or even upside down to follow along.
A bold soundtrack and other audio effects (footsteps, creaking doors and those darn, talkative bears) add to the atmosphere. The visuals are great, too. Often a primary source of clues, many photos seem to be "behind" the text, or peeking through a cutout. Other images require you to tap to reveal their function.
As you read and explore you'll have to retrace your steps and solve the many puzzles. Some are easy while others aren't (again, those pesky bears). It's so much fun I got through three "chapters" before putting my phone down.
Device 6 will appeal to those who like solving clever puzzles and especially a good story. I felt an underlying Cthulhu mythos vibe in Device 6, which was a lot of fun. It's obvious that Device 6 was created with a "story first" mindset. It's a real pleasure to read. Or play. Both? Yes.