Paradise has actually been withdrawn from the competition because it turns out it had been publicly released before the comp. I didn’t find out about this until I’d been playing it for a while, though, so I’m writing about it anyway.
Paradise was created by Devine Lu Linvega and is online here. It is unlike any IF I’ve experienced before – a sandbox fiction, like Wikipedia meets Twine, all wrapped up in a dreamlike aesthetic. I found it bewildering and beautiful at first, then enthralling.
I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a spoiler for Paradise, but I’m putting the rest of this behind a cut simply for length.
Since I sat down too late to review another comp game properly and still get to bed in decent time, let me plug another game I’ve been playing and enjoying immensely.
Device 6 is a iOS game that the creators describe as “a surreal thriller in which the written word is your map, as well as your narrator.” The game set the mood perfectly with an amazing intro sequence that feels like the opening credits of a ’60s spy film. When it ends, you’re presented with a written story about a woman named Anna who awakes in an unknown building. As you read through this story, the text layout creates a feeling of movement through separate rooms through effects like making you turn your iPad or scroll in a different direction. Interspersed with the text are occasional mysterious – indeed, rather sinister – photographs and diagrams. The sound effects add to the atmosphere as well as directly to the story. Periodically, for Anna to get into another room, you must solve a puzzle such as figuring out a code. This motivates exploring and re-exploring the text, images and sounds to notice details. Since these all cohere to the same aesthetic and creepy mood, the result is deeply immersive.
Turning a corner…
I haven’t yet finished Device 6 – I’ve been playing it with my fiancé, which means only playing it when we’re both in the right mindset at the same time – but it’s been utterly delicious so far. If you own an iOS device, it’s very much worth the $3.99.