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Most developers get one masterpiece. One magnum opus that they get to unleash on to the world.

Simogo released two in 2013 alone.

Both Year Walk and Device 6 were absolutely amazing experiences, not just games, and so different from almost everything else this year.

yearwalk_02Part of what made them stand out was just how emotional they were: Year Walk used limited dialogue and details to make players care about what was happening in the world by experiencing and being frightened by it for themselves. Device 6 was a lot more wordy as a very book-esque experience, sure, but it managed to get players engrossed in a mysterious universe while slowly unwrapping everything that was going on.

Both games played with their fictional aspects: Year Walk made full use of its companion app to complement the game and eventually have a profound effect on it. Its metafiction proved to be just as much of a psychological dance as the game itself. Device 6 had direct commentary on games, rating systems, and trying to get currency to buy things that served as the overlay to the experience. But it also tried and succeeded at being like reading a book that played with the very nature of text layouts and reading to create an unsettling universe.

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Year Walk will be coming to PC in 2014, and I know that people will welcome being able to play the game on larger screens. But to me, there was just something intimate about playing it on a touchscreen: it was smaller, but you had to interact with the world directly; you couldn’t be at a distance from it.

yearwalk_01I don’t know how Device 6 could translate to anything but a touchscreen device: the way that everything twists and turns requires one to have a feel for the device, to watch as the text turns and twists. To have the game do it itself on a monitor or TV, that just would not be the same game.

But a part of what made each game so memorable was their amazing endings that each left a tremendous impact. Device 6, being more of an interactive piece of fiction, was far more straightforward but it got me to play again right after finishing it to see if I could somehow affect the ending through my choices. Year Walk, being more psychological, delivered a blow with both of its endings.

yearwalk_03If any fault could be found, it might be that each game was perhaps too on-the-button with their themes. But in another way, it made them more accessible: they were games designed to be experienced, to puzzle the player, sure, but not to befuddle them, to leave them feeling like they couldn’t discover their message. Blackbar was great and in the vein of Simogo’s two masterpieces, but it could be obtuse and befuddling at times.

Really, these two games stood out because they were so different. Because they dared to have a narrative, to have a message. So many games on mobile leave setting and narrative off to the side; things that just are there to provide a flimsy excuse for their games to propel themselves forward.

I’m regularly asked about which games I like, which games I think are the best, and it’s easy to forget about great games that I fell in love with over the year. I couldn’t forget about Year Walk or Device 6. Simogo set out to make not just incredible games, but incredible experiences – and they did it twice in one year.

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