If you’re not a DJ then there has probably been a time in your life when you’ve wanted to be one. What I’ve always loved about the craft is the gesticulations. Specifically, how the fingers are concentrated on spinning a concentric web of vinyl. The DJ operates machinery as a pilot would command a plane; flicking switches, spinning dials. It’s that tactile display of control that gets me. Their immediate comprehension of an alien landscape—all mini domes, black pads, and sequences of monoliths—and how they then turn that hard-edged circuitry into music with a few playful swoops and swipes.
I want to be able to do that. And Adventures of Poco Eco, an iOS game of all things, had me feeling a bit like a DJ as I solved its touchscreen puzzles. It’s a delight. You play an odd creature known as Poco after it gets arrested by a mysterious cassette that straps itself to its chest. It then plugs Poco’s ears with headphones to fill its head with dreamy electronic music. The songs are all taken from Hungarian artist iamyank’s new EP Lost Sounds. The game is a a world-sized expansion of that EP.
The task is to help a tribe to rid themselves of a terrible silence by restoring the sacrosanct Sounds of their world. The cassette on Poco’s chest is the key, and the totemic animals that each correspond to a musical component—beats, tones, and frequencies—must be reached. To this end, you travel across striking low-poly landscapes, triggering amps to awaken each level, and pushing buttons to configure platforms to the positions you require to bridge them.
But it’s the vivid character afforded to each level that stands out. It’s as if a magnifying glass is being held to the DJ’s deck and you’re watching the microcosmic life that the lens reveals. After crossing the Lotus Ocean at the beginning of your journey, you have to spin the tri-colored pyramids of Cone City like tops to reach the lower levels. Later, you spin emeralds in the Crystal Catacombs to bounce light beams around. The Field of Drums is navigated by tapping out beats on big bouncy drum skins. The properties and specific sounds of instruments are made physical.
You can add to the soundtrack that sonically matches the vibrant visuals by poking the environment: the flora is shaped like drum sticks, cymbals, and horns and touching them has them respond accordingly. It’s a world that you manipulate with your fingers, restoring it as you go, and so its ending makes perfect sense. You enter yet another hulking carved mountain to find a sequencer. The sounds that you brought back then need to be tapped out into a concordant loop.
Once done, and the confetti has stopped falling from all the celebrations, you can then listen to iamyank’s entire EP from your iOS device. Or you can grab it on Bandcamp if you prefer.