BYOD

(some spoilers)

BYOD is a game that focuses on doing one thing, and it does that one thing quite well. When the story begins, you’re starting your first day at an IT internship. Unfortunately, nobody’s shown up to meet you and tell you what you’re supposed to do. Hanging out in the entryway, you accidentally break the water fountain. The secretary then asks you to place an “Out of Order” sign on the fountain. How are you going to do that, without access to a computer or printer?

The very beginning of BYOD doesn’t occur with this scenario, though; that’s just how the story begins. When you first start the game, and before you see the story, you’re presented with a title screen that’s an excellent recreation of a DOS prompt — albeit one with some directory extensions that I don’t remember from the 1980s. There’s a .exe file that you can run, which gives an attractively-rendered and somewhat psychedelic version of the credits. There are a couple of .txt files, one of which is the walkthrough. The other .txt file is even more interesting. It’s a tech newsletter, featuring information about a new app that can be used to hack into any computer system. It turns out, when you start your internship in the game itself, you’ve got this app on your phone. And, with a little hacking, you can use it to create the “Out of Order” sign, which is enough to win the game. However, that’s not all you can do with the app. You can achieve a more interesting ending if you poke around some with your hacking powers and then use your newfound knowledge to help someone out.

BYOD‘s implementation is really good. The DOS title screen is great, and it fits with the game’s hacker ethos. The hacker app is also tightly implemented, and I found it fairly easy to use.

I’d love to see more in the same vein. In fact, BYOD feels a little slight. With the phenomenal powers you have at your disposal, it seems to me that there’s a lot more that could have been done with the game. The more interesting ending edges in that direction, but even then the effect of your actions is rather downplayed. I’d also have loved the ability to turn the tables, somehow, on the miscreant you discover.

Overall, BYOD focuses on presenting the player with one puzzle — and providing a cool tool with which to solve it. It does this quite well. In fact, when looking for the game’s IFDB entry so that I could link to it I ran across the entry for the game’s Spanish version. Someone had voted it for an IFDB poll I did a couple of years ago entitled “Great Games That Consist of a Single Puzzle.” (That explains why the title and cover art had seemed familiar.) Having played the English version now, I agree that it’s a worthy candidate for that list. However, I do think that the game could be improved if there were more of it — in particular, if there were more for the player to do with the fun tool provided. As always, though, a complaint that a game is too short is also a compliment: “More, please!” means that what’s there is both enjoyable and promising.

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