Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Magnetic: Cage Closed Review (XONE)

Unlike a game like Q.U.B.E. that used Portal as inspiration to go on to do its own thing, Magnetic: Cage Closed just unapologetically steals from Portal wholesale.  Somehow they forgot to steal the most important bit, however, and Magnetic’s first-person-puzzles are just bland, boring, and uninspired.  There is no reason whatsoever to play Magnetic: Cage Closed, but read our review anyway.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
  • Developer: Guru Games
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: First-Person-Puzzle
  • Pros: Decent visuals
  • Cons: Mostly boring puzzles; totally unoriginal; clunky controls
  • MSRP: $15

Magnetic: Cage Closed features your female silent protagonist being forced to run through a series of puzzle rooms to test out mysterious new device.  Sound familiar?  Get used to it, because Magnetic: Cage Closed is pretty much just Portal.  It even has the exact same plot twist in the second half.  The difference here is that Magnetic doesn’t have the sense of humor or charm or wit that made Portal such a phenomenon.  It is all just grimdark and serious and boring.

The gameplay here revolves around a magnet gun that can be used to push and pull blocks as well as propel yourself around if you need to.  The puzzles are largely about using the magnet gun to move boxes around to push buttons or to pull blocks out to create paths for you to jump around on to reach the exit.  The rooms are full of spikes and poison gas and fire, so you have to also use the magnet gun to help your character jump around and over these hazards.  You can briefly hover or use the repulse ability for super jumps.

The problem comes in the fact these navigational puzzles require split second precision that the controls just can’t keep up with.  The actual puzzles are rarely very difficult, but when you have to precisely more around while running and jumping and using the magnet gun to push and pull all in rapid succession things start to fall apart.  It just flat out doesn’t control well, and when the game forces you to wait around and listen to the same dialogue over and over again when you fail just increases your frustration level even more.  If your game isn’t very fun to begin with, annoying players with bad controls and forced cutscenes isn’t doing you any favors.

Magnetic: Cage Closed has a bad habit of making you just sit around and wait far too often.  You spend a lot of time riding in shipping containers as the game transports you around the facility.  You also spend way too long slowly crawling through maintenance shafts from one puzzle to another.  And, as mentioned, the game likes to monologue at you with clich├ęd, poorly written “bad guy” dialogue that you have to sit around and listen to. 

The one interesting thing Magnetic does is that it asks you questions at the end of each act that have consequences for other people / prisoners at the facility.  These only have a marginal impact on your experience, but the final choice does actually lead to totally different sets of levels depending on what you choose, which is kind of cool.  I wish the rest of the game actually tried to be this interesting.

The presentation in Magnetic: Cage Closed actually isn’t too bad.  The game takes place in some sort of prison facility so it is sort of dark and grimy instead of the clean test chambers of Portal or Q.U.B.E., so it does have that to sort of make it distinct, at least.  There are lots of special effects for fire and other hazards and the lighting actually looks pretty decent.  I have to admit I do like the visual style here. 

All in all, though, Magnetic: Cage Closed very much feels like a re-tread of better games you’ve likely already played.  It isn’t bad or anything, but it doesn’t do anything new or particularly interesting to justify its existence.  It isn’t funny or charming like Portal nor does it have interesting puzzles like Q.U.B.E.  Everything about it is just mediocre and bland and boring.  We can do better than bland and boring.  Skip it.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.