How many times did you look at a guide playing Device 6?

I grew up on the PS1 generation, where Tomb Raider, Abe's Oddysse and Metal Gear Solid formed me and my brothers into the hardcore gamers we remain today. Back then, walkthroughs were regarded as secret treasure. Most often found in gaming magazines, a newly attained walkthrough meant sweet release from any number of levels that we had been stuck on for weeks. Nowadays, of course, walkthroughs and guides are within easy reach. How to get past even the simplest of puzzles is documented, most likely three times over, on YouTube, IGN, and a large number of gaming sites, even in official publications from the developers themselves. So readily available, most developers now simply assume that gamers will reach for a guide at some point in their play. 

My general rule is, 'When I stop having fun, then I go for a guide.' I see it not as my own moral failing or leniency towards cheating, but as a failure of the developer. This is a poor excuse. My patience and 'fun tolerance' appears to get shorter and shorter with each passing year.

The price of looking for help is inevitable. Looking at a guide and finding the answer takes away the sting of satisfaction of completing the game yourself. For me, it's replaced by guilt. There's always a distinct feeling of regret. It all seems so obvious once I've looked at a guide. 'If only I'd stuck with it for another fifteen minutes, I would've gotten it eventually.' I say this to console myself, but it's impossible to know how true it is. There's a good chance that I'm too much of an idiot to work out most contemporary gaming puzzlers. 

Device 6 is a game that makes you want to sit down and behave. It's a startling beautiful and intelligent puzzler. The sweet satisfaction of a solved puzzle is an intense reward. Part interactive novel, part traditional puzzler, part something special and rare, Device 6 is absolutely the best iOS game for 2013, and one of the most unique iOS games ever produced. Perhaps most rewardingly, like Angry Birds and The Room before it, Device 6 is a game that feels at home on the iOs, and it would feel completely alien on any other device. It's another leap forward for mobile, casual gaming. Short, well-priced, and beautiful, I highly recommend it.

BUT - it is a puzzler. Which means you need your brain. The game is split into a series of chapters, basically boiling down to five puzzles. So if you reach for a guide, Device 6 can skip past you in little more than half an hour, and I daresay it would be a fairly ordinary experience. As such, my one of my few criticisms for Device 6 is that it's made for an intelligent gamer that is rare. To put it bluntly, the game is too intelligent (at least for the first level) than it's average player. The learning curve is steep. I gave the first puzzle a solid try, but eventually reached for a guide out of frustration. I was glad I did, because instantly the answer seemed obvious. My problem was not the puzzle, but the framework of it, and how the game approached it. The guide taught me how to look at the puzzles in the game - their style, form and general difficulty level. Once I grasped those basics, the rest of the game was an absolute pleasure.

Maybe this is just me, being too stupid to get it. It's a thin line between teaching a player how to play your game too slowly, making them feel as though they're trapped inside a tutorial (as Assassin's Creed 3, countless flight simulators, or the Sid Meier series has grappled with) and throwing them in at the deep end and making them feel dumb (any attempt for me to play a sporting simulator usually ends with a controller being thrown at the wall). 

In addition, Device 6's replay value is sadly low, despite its cunning illusion otherwise. Nevertheless, it's easy to be taken in by its Lost style absurdism and vintage James Bond aesthetic. It's also a pleasure to share with your friends and gloat like an arrogant prick. ('Get past chapter three yet? Ah, the answer's so obvious...) Once you understand how the game is expecting you to behave Device 6 is an absolute pleasure. Each journey to find a solution is satisfying. The solution never seems so out of reach that you're pressed to give up. Instead, I found the game best played over a series of intense, twenty minute sessions. Perfect cup-of-coffee and play structure, exactly how well designed iOS games should be. With only a handful of levels, however, it does run a little short.

All of this is by way of saying that I'm still seeking forgiveness for looking at a guide in the first place, and trying to blame it on the developers. As much as I feel I should be asking them to dumb it down, after having the full experience of Device 6 I can only praise the team at Simogo. Please, please, please keep making games that ask me to be smarter.