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[Free-Game Friday is a weekly feature in which a writer from the Gamer Limit staff looks at a completely free game and discusses his/her experience with it, allowing you to download it at the end. Feel free to check out our full schedule right here!]

From time to time, a game will come along and leave us bewildered and confused.  While that may not sound too appealing, DePaul Game Elites have taken those characteristics and have created an experience that mixes a dash of uncertainty with a whole lot of mind games.

In this week’s addition of Free-Game Friday, we’ll be examining Devil’s Tuning Fork. To get an idea of how incredibly unique this game is, go watch Nightmare on Elm Street and play Portal right before.  It falls somewhere in between those two.

While the initial set up of Devil’s Tuning Fork may be relatively weak, that’s not the reason why we play free games.  We play these style of games because it delivers an alternative experience that we just don’t find in main stream gaming any longer.

It’s a unique blend of testing what a person’s capabilities are with the tools one has.  In this case, it’s a group of DePaul university students using the equipment at their respective college.  To be honest, the end result is just as unique as it is well thought out.

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But for the story teller in all of us, the game opens up with a sinister presence trapping many children of young ages into a permanent slumber.  Of those children, their is one who awakes in the dream world.  He takes it upon himself to free the other children and escape the alternate reality before it’s too late.   Armed with a tuning fork, the player has to guide him through multiple levels using only sonar perception.

What really stands out are the immersion techniques the game uses to keep the player involved for the 30 – 45 minute game span.  Instead of relying on the power of its graphical engine, the game turns to its sounds leaving players slightly uneasy throughout.  The faint cries of children, the devilish tone of an evil presence, and the soft music playing in the background create an atmosphere that is not only bleak, but also a bit terrifying.

While you’re not afraid anything is going to pop out at you unexpectedly, the game will leave the player off balance throughout, which is what adds to the discomfort.  Visually, there isn’t anything to write home about, but its presentation is what is so captivating.  Because sound is the focal point of the game, the player has to use the tings of the tuning fork to flesh out the environment.

There are two different pitches: high and low.  The high pitch travels further providing a wide range of “vision” and can be shot across the room to ring bells and bounce off mirrors.  Whereas the low pitch is used to map faults in the floor that will cause you to plummet to your death.

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The idea of it is intriguing, and part of the fun is finding your way in the darkness, but there are a few instances where the player will get frustrated.  For example, there’s one point in the game where I spent about 10 minutes trying to angle and position correctly to reflect a pitch off a mirror.  I only moved a couple of inches and changed my angle a couple of degrees at a time to only search for other ways around the puzzle.

In a game that’s relatively straight forward, it’ll sometimes make you question your approach to certain obstacles, as you try to adjust ever so slightly.  While it can be a bit frustrating finding the ideal spot, it’s also a technique that adds to the discomfort.

Nonetheless, Devil’s Tuning Fork is a thoughtful experience that adds a strong twist to the way we play games.  For those who are interested, you can play the full game for free at DevilsTuningFork.com.

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