Devil's Tuning Fork

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Devil's Tuning Fork Game Poster Image
Thought-provoking but scary game about being in a coma.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

In the absence of a clear moral message, the game instead tries to convey the abstract fear and claustrophobia of being "trapped" in an alternate reality brought on by a fever-induced coma. The effect can be quite unsettling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's goal is a positive one: to help free the other children from their comas and discover the source of the epidemic that put them there in the first place. Players will not actually meet other characters.

Ease of Play

Controlling the game requires a certain amount of coordination using both hands (one on the keyboard, the other on the mouse).


While there is no overt violence, the threat of violence is present through hearing things like "I'm going to kill you." The game purposedly creates a scary environment with its atmosphere and the alarming things you hear other children say. That said, the game relies completely on benign puzzle-solving as opposed to physical confrontation with weapons.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while Devil's Tuning Fork is a free downloadable game with no violence or overt conflict in the game, it is nevertheless a game that children might find it scary for several reasons. Since you are experiencing a world of a child who is in a coma, the atmosphere is intentionally dark and claustrophic with no actual characters to interact with; you can, however, hear the disembodied voices of alarmed children saying things like "Please don't hurt me! I'm scared!" and a threatening adult male voice snarling phrases like "I'm going to kill you." It is an interesting game best explored by older teens and adults. Warning: Players who are prone to motion sickness should beware, however, as the undulating effect of the sound waves on stripey, cavernous walls can be disorienting.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byBookworm5252 May 18, 2015

I like it

I like the game, but it can be really hard and you must understand it to play. I got stuck of the first level of 'Up' on 1.21, as I couldn't find... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMaccMike November 13, 2010


this rite here is a trippy game...its based on solving puzzles, and i guess people can learn from dat in a way...but ders always dose weird people dat can get a... Continue reading

What's it about?

DEVIL'S TUNING FORK is a free PC download game developed by a small team of college students from DePaul University. Highly experimental in nature and presented in a first-person perspective controlled using a combination of the mouse and keyboard, Devil's Tuning Fork is set in an abstract world inspired by the art of M. C. Escher. The gameplay attempts to let the player experience what it's like to \"hear\" their environment instead of see it. A small town is alarmed when its young children all start slipping into comas. One child (the player) awakes inside the a claustrophobic alternate reality where the player must navigate a pitch-black world with the help of a magical tuning fork to find the cause of the epidemic. The tuning fork grants the player the ability to emit sound waves and perceive them visually as they bounce off of walls and scenery to reveal parts of the shadowy world. The effect is similar to how bats use echolocation to \"see\" where they're going in pitch-black caves.

Is it any good?

The concept and presentation are certainly unique, but to enjoy Devil's Tuning Fork is to experience it with an open mind since the premise is really designed to be thought-provoking rather than fun. Once the trick of bouncing the tuning fork's sound waves off of the environment to look around and move, it becomes apparent that the game is at heart a simplistic platformer with moving platforms to ride, crumbling floors to avoid, and swinging hammers and blocks to dodge. The fact that the game relies on puzzles rather than weapons and person-to-person combat is refreshing. Players who are prone to motion sickness should beware, however, as the undulating effect of the sound waves on stripey, cavernous walls can be disorienting. Taken for what it is, a free download that pushes a new boundary in how players can navigate video game environments, Devil's Tuning Fork is worth a look - just be aware that it's likely to go over the heads of a lot of gamers who have been conditioned to expect more traditional or user-friendly experiences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Many have compared the artwork of this game to M.C. Escher's work. Families might want to look at some of M.C. Escher's more famous sketches, like Relativity, Drawing Hands and Waterfall. What makes this art style notable and unique? What do you like about the sketches?

  • How does echolocation works, and how does it help animals like bats and dolphins to move around?

  • What are some examples of humans using echolocation, i.e. blind people tapping their canes on objects, or the sonar of submarines?

  • What's the difference between being in a coma and just being asleep?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: Free
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: DePaul University
  • Release date: December 4, 2009
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: March 21, 2019

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