Here are a bunch of video games that have been keeping my brain occupied over the last few months. I first heard about Device 6 and The Stanley Parable through several mentions on the Idle Thumbs and Video Games Hot Dog podcasts, and The Room Two through a link my boyfriend sent me (probably because I couldn’t shut up about how cool the first game was).
Device 6 [Available for iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad]
Okay, let me get some of the technical stuff out of the way first before I start talking about the plot of this game. I’ve never played such a text-based adventure on a hand-held device before, and I’ve also never played a game that used the “swiping” technique in such a unique way. Also, while this game is available to play on various i-devices, I would recommend the largest device possible because you spend a lot of time peering closely at details and if you look at them on an iPad it will be easier to see everything. That being said, I played the whole game through on my iPod Touch before realizing that I needed to play it through again on my iPad. Oh, and you should definitely play this game while wearing headphones because some of the sounds (and the soundtrack) are both alarming and cool. You’ll see what I mean.
Okay, now on to the plot. Hmmmmm … the plot …
Okay, you are a person playing a game on a handheld device. When you start playing the game, you realize that it’s not like other games that you’ve played before, because it kind of feels like you’re playing a game but it also kind of feels like you’re reading a story about a woman who wakes up on a mysterious island. As you read the story, swiping the screen to move the story along, some unusual elements start to creep in. Sometimes you’re reading about how she hears something, and as you’re reading those words suddenly YOU hear that something through your headphones. Sometimes the story takes a different direction or offers a choice, and you discover that you have to turn your iPad 90 degrees or even 180 degrees to keep following the story. Sometimes you’re a person playing a game, and sometimes you’re in the woman’s mind … wondering if she might be inside a game.
Oh, and there are also lots of puzzles. Weird, weird puzzles. As time went on, I started having “Oh, I bet that’s a clue!” moments, and I started reaching for paper and pen so that I could take notes to help me remember those clues later.
Overall, this is an awesome game. Or an awesome story featuring weird puzzles that will make you question your understanding of games in general. Take your pick.
The Stanley Parable [Available for Steam download for PC or Mac]
Okay, first thing’s first. You MUST have Steam installed on your computer in order to play this game (and if you enjoy playing computer games, this is very worthwhile). Once you’ve done that, you can take the plunge and purchase this game on my say-so alone … or … you can download the Stanley Parable demo for free. And actually, there’s very little overlap between the demo and the game itself, so I highly recommend doing both. I will say that I initially balked at the price tag for the game (I’d NEVER pay more than $10 for most games I download!) but I was so won over by the demo that as soon as I finished it I bought the entire game.
Okay, so the point of the game is that you’re a guy named Stanley who does the same mindless job in his cubicle every day at work … until one day something goes wrong and he leaves his cubicle to find out what’s going on. A narrator gives the play-by-play of this boring, unassuming game.
Well, except the narrator turns out to be not exactly what he seems to be. Or, at least, he acts one way when you (as Stanley) do what he says (which is always good to do at least once). But then if you decide to go in different directions, make different decisions, or otherwise go against the narrator’s instructions, he gets a little … weird … or anxious … or hostile … or NUTS.
I have to say that I loved loved LOVED this game. I played it over and over again, sometimes finding one of the endings that was soul-crushingly awesome and sometimes finding one of the endings that was so funny that I couldn’t stop laughing. And yes, there are MANY endings to this game, some of which are so bizarre that I will not even speak of them. I confess that after playing The Stanley Parable for a long time and then listening to more podcast discussions about the game I realized that I had missed several Easter eggs and even MORE endings, so I had to go back and play it some more.
And FWIW, if there is an award for best narrator, funniest narrator, and most insane narrator all rolled into one, this game absolutely deserves it.
The Room Two [Available now on iPad, coming soon to iPhone, Android, and Amazon Kindle Fire]
Okay, so last year when I reviewed the impressive and atmospheric puzzle game The Room, I was talking about a game where you found yourself in different rooms trying to open different boxes. Well, The Room Two is … and I hesitate to say this but I’m afraid it’s true … even MORE impressive, MORE atmospheric, and MORE awesome than the original game. There are more settings, more puzzles, more story elements, and more haunting video clips that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
You will find yourself turning off as many lights as possible so that you can appreciate the realistic 3-D visuals in all their glory, watching dust motes flow slowly through the air while you ponder your way inside your next puzzle box. The Room 2 also has a cool soundtrack, although the audio in this game isn’t as essential as it is in Device 6 (where it’s frigging important) or The Stanley Parable (where it’s mandatory for the full enjoyment of the game). Here it’s just … you know … part of the ambiance.
Oh, and there’s also a very handy hint system in this game (which you can turn off if you’re a Suuuuuper Genius, but which I left on because Lord knows I do need hints from time to time).
So there you go, Dear Readers. Three awesome games for a variety of devices and price ranges. Now go play!!!