Magnetic: Cage Closed, A magnetised Portal-inspired puzzler. - Games Weekly

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Magnetic: Cage Closed, A magnetised Portal-inspired puzzler.

Magnetic is a first-person puzzler heavily inspired by Portal, from its ‘test chambers’ to the sinister, unseen character pulling the strings. In Valve’s game it was a rogue AI. Here it’s the prison’s sadistic warden.

It doesn’t score many points for originality, but the magnet gun is a very different prospect to the portal gun. One button pulls, one pushes and another alters the strength of its magnetism. Point it at a metal cube, press the pull button and it’ll be drawn towards you. Point it at a metal tile on the floor below you, jump, then press the push button and you’ll leap high into the air.

You can use the pull function to yank hidden steps out of walls, or pick up heavy cubes with the push function and move them around. Before you start the tests, you’re thrown into a ‘play chamber’ filled with objects and switches that can be manipulated, and five minutes in here does a much better job than any tutorial would. I always appreciate it when a game lets you figure things out for yourself, rather than stop-starting the action with endless pop-up messages.
If you make a mistake here you don’t fall into shin-high water and get a bit wet. You die
The warden, whose voice acting is so overly theatrical it’s comical, promises that if you manage to make it through every test chamber, your criminal record will be wiped clean. Cue a series of increasingly dangerous tests as you use the magnet gun’s abilities to solve puzzles involving buttons, cubes and deadly traps. Again, it’s all a bit Portal, albeit in a setting that looks more like a dingy abandoned factory than the clean white of the Aperture Science facility. It’s a grey, industrial place, and you move between chambers by crawling through rusty vents. It’s basically the Industrial Zone from The Crystal Maze, but if you make a mistake here you don’t fall into shin-high water and get a bit wet. You die.

After the first batch of tests, which do a good job of showing how the magnet gun works with minimal hand-holding, there’s a curious scene. A prison psychologist, whose voice has been guiding you through the tests, asks you to press a big, red button at the end of a room. You can either obey her or not. The choice you make doesn’t seem to matter, but I have a feeling it will later on.

I’m intrigued by Magnetic. The perpetually gloomy, desaturated visual style is a bit off-putting, but there are some well-constructed puzzles. None have given me that “I’m a genius!” feeling that Portal does so brilliantly, but hopefully that will change as I delve deeper into its nightmarish future-prison.

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