App of the Week: Device 6

Developer: Simogo

Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

Requires: iOS 5.1

Price: $3.99

Available: here

Developer Simogo is a company on a mission. Their project history showcases some of the most artistically challenging, creative, and entertaining apps ever released, as they seem to be dead set on winning the race to make a gaming app that showcases the full potential of mobile devices, even when it feels like they’re the only ones really in the running.  While the music/stealth hybrid game “Beat Sneak Bandit” showed they were getting warmer, and the beautifully morbid adventure “Year Walk” almost got there, it’s “Device 6” that will likely go down as Simogo’s magnum opus, and one of the finest mobile experiences ever made.

I mentioned before that it felt like Simogo was aiming for the ultimate mobile gaming experience, yet somehow it doesn’t feel right calling “Device 6” a gaming app, or really trying to define it at all. On a very basic level it’s a callback to the old text adventures like “Zork” that saw you type in basic commands to advance a story. Your story here is that of a woman named Anna who wakes up on a mysterious island, unsure of how she got there, or what to do next. It’s a tired set up but, to be honest, then again so are text based adventure games. This makes the two something of an oddly appropriate match, but probably doesn’t help to explain why “Device 6” is so incredible.

The answer to that lies in the storytelling. “Device 6” doesn’t just tell a tale that you occasionally advance with basic commands, but rather presents a story that constantly requires you to interact with it in significant ways. Sometimes this comes in the form of “choose your own adventure” style moments that diverts the tale onto slightly different paths, but more often it’s in the way the game requires you to participate in mini-game like moments where you are momentarily put into the shoes of the character to solve a variety of puzzles and overcome other obstacles. Rarely taking the same form twice, these interludes of interactivity are, without exception, incredibly challenging and unbelievably creative moments that go a long way to breathing new life into the old text adventure format not just because they provide a game like break from the reading, but rather because they enhance the story in a way that allows it to evolve to a level far beyond what is possible with just printed words.

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Were “Device 6” to stop there, though, it would probably only find itself atop the growing heap of interactive story games on mobile devices. However, its trump card comes in the way it formats the text adventure. For instance, there’s a point in the story where you encounter a staircase. At that moment, the text physically diverges into both a downstairs and upstairs path which you’ll have to choose between. Another example of this imaginative style comes when you walk through a corridor, and the words suddenly form into a shifting single file line that requires you to tilt your device to keep up with them, simulating the feeling of walking down the same corridor Anna does. These may sound kind of gimmicky, but combined with the constant stream of timely visual elements and puzzles, they help to make “Device 6” the most engaging novel you’ll ever read.

“Device 6” reminds me of another recent release “The Stanley Parable” in that both showcase new, and previously unthinkable, ways of telling a story within an interactive medium. Where “Device 6” differs though is that it doesn’t feel like an isolated experience, or test run to a new method of storytelling, but rather a fully realized showcase that might just redefine how books are formatted in the digital age, or even create an entertainment medium that we don’t even associate with traditional books. That might sound like a bold statement, but the confidence and skill that “Device 6” exhumes when showcasing its unique methods is all of the reference needed to justify it’s potential as a game changer. Like watching a hotshot backup on your favorite football team come in and win an impossible game for the aging starter, once you get a taste of “Device 6” it’s clear that there is no going back.

Book, game, something in-between…I don’t care what you call “Device 6,” because I’m just glad it’s on the app store so I can talk about it here and tip you off to the moment when interactive storytelling shed nearly all of its conventions, and the idea of the capabilities of e-books changed forever.  Then again even if “Device 6” doesn’t change the storytelling world, it still stands as a one of a kind experience without equal in concept or quality on the app store. For want of a greater honor to provide it, I humbly name “Device 6” my app of the week.

  

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App of the Week: eBay Now

Developer:
eBay

Compatible with:
iPhone

iPod Touch

iPad

Android Devices

Requires:
iOS 5.0

Android 2.1

Price:

Free

Available here (for iOS) and here (for Android)

There’s certain advantages and disadvantages to living in a big city that any resident will tell you. For disadvantages, there is the high cost of living, the crime rate, the human traffic (and motor traffic) all around, and in some places a smell so unique and horrific that you are afraid to identify it in the fear that by giving it a name, you also give it strength.

However there are the perks. The best restaurants and stores, world class architecture, an unlimited amount of entertainment options available around the clock, and the ability to have pretty much anything delivered to you.

That last one just got a big boost thanks to the launch of eBay Now. Available to residents of San Francisco for about a month now, recently the service has been expanded to New York and allows you to buy a large number of products from a variety of big name retailers from their eBay stores, and have it delivered to wherever you are, that same day, with an estimate that many of the deliveries will arrive in under an hour.

With a host of major retailers already signed up including Macy’s, Best Buy,  Target, and Walgreens, there are very few things you could want or need that are not now available to you for same day service, and the only limits of this app’s uses are seemingly your imagination as it pertains to what “have to have it here now” items you could possibly want.

And whether it be an impulse need for an epic NERF gun fight brought to you via Toys R’ Us, or a strong desire not to wash your socks in the near future that just leads you to ordering some new ones brought to you from Macy’s, there is now a wide variety of impulse purchase options available that are made all the better by the reported excellent speed, reliability, and support the service offers, which includes a GPS tracker of your delivery progress.

eBay Now is a significant release for the online retail giant, and shatters expectations of consumers when it comes to availability and speed of purchases even if they are used to living in a big city. eBay is looking to expand the service to more cities to come, so even if you are not in one of the included areas, be sure to keep an eye out for additional upcoming locations as this app comes through with its lofty promise and not only delivers just about anything you could want right to you, it also delivers the app of the week.

  

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