I’ve always been fond of puzzle platformers and Magnetic: Cage Closed is probably going to make my list of favorites. I won’t know for sure until release, but if what I’ve seen so far is indicative of what’s to come then I’m already sold. It’s got a dark story, fun core mechanics, and dangerous puzzles. Guru Games has placed this all in a tidy box with warning labels all over it. Can you escape the Cube?
Magnetic starts with you, prisoner XE-47623, being given a new piece of technology and a set of challenges to overcome. You have two options: co-operate or die. If you succeed and pass the trials, your criminal record is erased and you are free to go. It’s simple really, and maybe the cake is a lie but you won’t find out unless you give it a shot. Interspersed between puzzles, you are given sort of psychological examinations which contain a choice that is used to evaluate you. These are a nice change of pace and help break up the gameplay while keeping you interested and involved. I have no idea how things end or if these choices will make a huge difference, but the potential is there.
As for what you’re doing this entire time, you’re basically using a magnetic gun with two polarity settings that push or pull magnetic objects. This can also push or pull yourself, which allows for some very cool platforming elements that were difficult at times but rather enjoyable. The movement and jumping is a little touchy but you get used to it. Some puzzles that took me ages the first time around only took a couple minutes when I went back to the time trial section.
So far the puzzles are a little and the level design leads you well. I’m hoping in the final release players are forced to think outside the box more; what I’ve seen wasn’t always straightforward but I’ve I was mostly taken through the tutorial and the first few trials. I have faith in the developers, and the controls feel good for the most part. I tried it with both a 360 controller and keyboard and mouse, and the only area it really failed was with the gamepad in the menu. You use the left thumbstick to control a pointer instead of just selecting things with a single motion. That’s pretty minor though and the rest feels fine. They have a solid foundation and I’m excited to see something very cool come from all of this.
I have to say that both the art and audio teams have done a splendid job with setting the tone and atmosphere just right. The world not only looks very mechanical and sharp, but it sounds like it too. Clanks, clunks, vents hissing, the whir of the magnet gun when it spins, these are all spot on and match the art design to a tee. The visual style is ominous and fits the story rather well. You can tell that the high vision of Magnetic was well-understood by everyone on the project. Well, at least almost everyone. I think the UI could use a little bit of work just because it doesn’t really feel like it fits he rest of the game. It’s blue and sterile instead of red and hostile. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t seem to match.
The story and gameplay is a tad reminiscent of Portal, but the mechanics stand on their own and what the prisoner is going through isn’t quite the same. It’s easy to spot the similarities but it’s also easy to spot the differences too, and I would have to say that Magnetic: Cage Closed is easily its own game. Let’s be real here, you have something kind of like Portal but with a rather different main mechanic, the magnet gun, and a dark, gritty story filled with moral choices. There’s not much to complain about.
So really all there is to do now is wait. I’ve been wrong before, but I have pretty high hopes for Magnetic. Guru Games have a solid Alpha build on their hands and I’m sure they’re further along by now and looking even better. If you like the idea of flying with magnets, throwing cubes at stuff and catching it again, or determining someone’s fate, you should probably pick this up. Honestly for $14.99 it’s hard to go wrong here, even if there isn’t a massive amount of content I haven’t played. I’m sure in the end you could speed run it in twenty minutes or something, but your first go around is going to be challenging, I assure you.
So keep following the news for now. The release date is this coming March, so we’ll know relatively soon if it’ll ship on time or not. Even if a delay happens just wait it out; Magnetic is going to be good. I’ll be very disappointed if I’m wrong here because as I said before, it really does have a lot of potential.
***A PC code was provided by the Publisher***