Ever since I found a game for my iPad called The Room, I’ve been on a search for other games that are comparable. The Room is really a game about synchronicity – where clues and hints guide you toward some new discovery. I’ve found two possible contenders, although neither of these games has the three-dimensional, tactile satisfaction of The Room
The Lost City – at just 99 cents – isn’t just a bargain, it’s fun. The world you enter is beautifully rendered, deftly layered. The deeper I went into these layers, the more I discovered about myself. It was like an excavation of my own psyche, but within the parameters of the game. I was forced to think outside my comfort zone.
I know this probably sounds silly for an iPad game. But as I was playing around in this world, I was thinking that it’s the same format Dan Brown used in The DaVinci Code, where the main character, played by Tom Hanks in the movie, was forced to solve riddles and puzzles that revealed the next layer of the mystery, and the next and the next until he arrived at the truth: Christ had impregnated Mary Magdalene and that bloodline survived to the present day.
This game lacks the stunning, three dimensional graphics of The Room. But I love the Indiana Jones feel of the game, the length is more satisfying, and I still haven’t solved the last several clues. So, stumped as I am, I looked for other games by the same developers and ran across The Secrets of the Grisly Manor.
This one has so many puzzles and twists and turns that you really have to remain vigilant and take notes. It helps if you have an eidetic memory, which I don’t. I admit to using my iPhone to snap photos of a clue in one frame so that I could use them in another frame. No synchros here, just one foot in front of the other.
So my brief foray into iPad games has yielded a couple of insights that I can apply to my fiction. Plant your clues and your puzzles, but don’t over-explain. When you can, cut to the chase. Every story, like every game, is predicated on a quest – for truth, love, revenge, knowledge, spiritual wisdom, or the key ingredient in your grandfather’s invention!
In fact, after I solved Grisly Manor,I embarked on another search for games and found realMyst, the Myst video game from 20 years ago now beautifully rendered for the iPad. In many ways, it’s better than The Room, visually stunning, complex, and it even has a story. It’s pricier than other games – $6.99 – but it instills such a spirit of adventure for exploration that it’s worth the extra few dollars.
In between my searches, I dropped by Whitley Strieber’s Unknown Country and watched a video from the International Space Station of objects zipping across the continent in what seemed like seconds. On Strieber’s site, these objects are called Fastwalkers. The word hit me. It’s now the title of my new novel, which doesn’t have anything to do with UFOs. But the world resonates. It fits the story. So,four games, about $10 of entertainment, and new creative insights. A good deal all around for the early part of 2013.