When you first load up this first person puzzle game you may get the feeling that you’ve seen this all before. Everything about Magnetic: Cage Closed has that Portal vibe to it, from the unnamed female protagonist and highly experimental sci-fi gun to the voices guiding and taunting you through the labyrinths. However the story and setting takes more of a sinister, unsettling tone and the gameplay is far more chaotic. So then, can magnetism really compete with portals?
We take the role of a nameless convict who has been sent to an unknown facility where her life is expendable and the only way to survive is to test a new experimental tool. The tool is a unique weapon known as the magnet gun which allows the user to attract or repel objects around, including herself. Armed with this unique device our protagonist must navigate her way through a series of chambers filled with dangerous puzzles and devices including spikes, gas and fire. Pushed on by the relentless taunting of a sadistic warden and the constant moral choices from a mysterious scientist the player must survive and make their way to freedom.
The magnet gun; your key to survival in this bleak dystopian hellhole. With this unique weapon you can manipulate magnetic poles to attract objects towards you or repel them away. The force of the magnetic pull/push can be increased or decreased to help distinguish how much of an impact you have over some objects. Personally I had it max strength most of the time with no problems. The main issue with the magnet gun is that whilst carrying cubes around it does obscure a large majority of the screen, making it difficult when aiming it at particular switches.
To help push the story on you are constantly taunted by the facility’s warden who likes to pile on the pressure during these puzzles. Most of the puzzles in the game require you to move boxes to buttons, which to many would sound like quite a mundane task that would soon get overly repetitive. Well they’d be right, at least to an extent. The puzzles will require you to pick up smaller blocks to place or throw at buttons or pulling larger blocks through environments onto other buttons. So yeah pretty repetitive stuff, but there is enough variation in the level setups to keep you interested. One of the best things about the game is also one of the worst in that magnetism is unpredictable. Manipulating objects’ with magnetic attraction is rather chaotic, leading to objects not doing exactly what you want them to do.
Using the magnet gun to pick up and move objects isn’t its only use. It can also be used to propel or levitate the player across pitfalls and traps. The game has a number of small circular objects that you can also use the magnet gun on. For example if these objects are on walls and you jump while holding down the attract button you can pull yourself towards them and vice versa. Another example is if they are instead on the floor you can push yourself upwards reaching great heights. Thankfully our character has been experimented on and now has a strengthened body to protect her from fall damage, which is lucky. Now you might of heard of the scientific phrase, “every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction”, and that applies in this game too. Basically even while stationary if you use the magnet gun on an object you will move depending on the magnetic field you’re using. While a pretty cool concept it can lead to some unfortunate and embarrassing deaths if you’re not concentrating.
To help give the game some replayability there is a total of 9 separate endings. Achieving a different ending is dependent on how you answer a series of optional choice questions presented after completion of a series of puzzles. These challenges in morale are given to the player by an unknown scientist. The questions aren’t particularly taxing nor do they present you with any real emotional dilemmas. The first instance of one of the choices asks you to either step on a button or not, caution vs curiosity. There is also a time trial mode in which you can time yourself completing each of the chambers puzzles and there are even a couple of extra challenging puzzles for even the hardened player. However there are no online leaderboards so the only one you’re challenging is yourself.
Your first experience in Magnetic is being transported to your cell through a series of underground rail networks, this setting does well to unsettle the player straight from the off and it continues on from there. The bleak and disturbing nature of the puzzle rooms is a prime example of this but there’s the transportation between chambers in barren waste receptacles and bloody graffiti that litters the room. The Warden and Scientist are both excellently voice acted and have a professional quality about them that helps give these faceless entities some personality.
Magnetic: Cage Closed’s multiple story branches and wildly chaotic magnetic gameplay certainly sets it apart from others in the genre. All of the puzzles follow a similar structure which can become a little repetitive, but there are occasionally some decent challenges to help keep players interested. There are a couple of gripes towards the games mechanics but the charming writing style and 9 endings give it a great depth.
This review is based off a review code of Magnetic: Cage Closed provided by Guru Games.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.