Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.Device 6 intrigues as soon as the precisely styled opening credits slide across the screen. They shift aside to make way for a surreal mystery and an isolated protagonist, wandering through rooms and gardens that surprise, unsettle and connect in ways that don't quite make sense.
Device 6 is a classic text adventure that augments its descriptions – and what you imagine from them – with creepy imagery and ingenious sound design. As a rickety radio plays in a distant room, hovering in your periphery like the buzz of an electrical cable overhead, Device 6 leads you up, down and through, implying tunnels and stairways in its twisting text. Every swipe is a step, and every literal turn of your tablet spirals you further into a test of cognition, orchestrated both by the game's designers and the rarely seen creators of your puppet's island prison.
Much like Myst and its illustrated ilk, Device 6 hinges on abstract puzzles that require observation and logic to defeat. They're not mired in the absurd pathways of traditional adventure games – no combining the bat with the vacuum cleaner here – but do require a certain literacy that is an absolute pleasure to obtain. Patience is a must, as is the willingness to discern the important pieces placed in front of you in this unique thought experiment.
Device 6 reminded me most of "House of Leaves," an unnerving haunted-house novel by Mark Z. Danielewski, which also seemed to crawl out from its medium, with text sprawling around and upside-down the printed page. Simogo's game is nowhere near as substantive in comparison, of course, but its success is not in its cursory mind-control story, but how its enigma unfurls on a tablet or phone with perfect proportion and pacing. Even if you don't think of it as one of the most interesting games in 2013, it is unmistakably and such a 2013 game.
Well, save for the wonderful lack of never-ending in-app purchases.
Joystiq is highlighting its 10 favorite games of 2013 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal picks in Best of the Rest roundups. The list so far: