Magnetic: Case Closed – Review
Xbox One, PC
Magnetic: Case Closed is a first person puzzle solving and platforming game from Swedish based developers, Guru Games. In a plot that seems almost entirely lifted out of another popular first person puzzle solving and platforming game, you play a lady criminal known only as Prisoner XE-47623. For reasons I can’t really figure out, you’re given an experimental prototype weapon that can manipulate magnetic fields, and your task is to “test” it by navigating through a few puzzles designed to kill you. Sound familiar?
Starting out in a box being transported in between sections of a nondescript prison known only as Facility 7, the booming voice of the Warden berates you about what lies ahead. He obviously finds a great deal of pleasure in reviling the prisoners that come through this place, and has no trouble shouting his thoughts at you down the loudspeaker, as you find out during the games uninspiring opening sequence.
The first thing you might think is ‘Facility 7 is a pretty ugly place’, and you’d be right. Textures lack any real detail, and there isn’t an awful lot of variety in the scenery. Copied and pasted assets litter the place, and it makes for some pretty lacklustre viewing. It also doesn’t appear to make any use of the current generation hardware, with everything from the puzzle rooms themselves to standard offices looking really dull and humdrum.
The Warden oversees the puzzle rooms, and often likes to talk to you about only God knows what. The drivel he spits is about as standard as a house brick, and just as boring – so much so that you’ll mentally switch off every time you hear him. Each of the puzzle rooms have a bunch of different hazards like electrical bolts, fixed flamethrowers and spikes that launch from the floor or wall. Many of the rooms also contain a ‘floor is lava’ element, though this time around it’s chlorine gas.
The magnetic gun itself is the show piece of Magnetic: Case Closed. It’s actually kind of cool at first, but it doesn’t take long for the game’s only unique mechanic to stretch itself thin. It takes a bit of getting used too, but it couldn’t be any simpler; right trigger to push, left trigger to pull. You’ll have to launch boxes at buttons, place boxes on buttons and manipulate platforms in order to make it through to the end of each puzzle, which is separated by a short, but incredibly frustrating, Alien Isolation-esque crawling and loading sequence. It’s just a slow and awkward way of moving through the world.
I should mention that, whilst being arguably the best part of the game, the puzzles still aren’t very good. There are a couple that are a little clever and take some lateral thinking to figure out, but none will take you longer than five minutes to work through. There aren’t that many of them, either. In fact, my first play through took less than 4 hours, and that was taking my time.
The Psychiatrist is another character who likes to talk at you via loudspeaker from the confines of her office, though she doesn’t run you through puzzle rooms. Instead she asks you a simple question, and whatever answer you pick ultimately decides which of the main stories branching paths you go down. You can be forgiven for thinking that this could be a saving grace for Magnetic: Case Closed; that this could be a reason to put yourself through a little more boredom, but alas, it is not. Whilst the story will ultimately pan out differently if you go back and play through again but with different choices, none of the play-by-play is different, and none of the pay off is worth it. You go right back to the same linear path as the first time around and the story is a big old pile of ‘meh’ anyway.
On the surface, Magnetic: Case Closed might seem like something worth looking at. It’s not. Maybe if they’d had more time and a few more mechanics to add to the mix, it would’ve come together as a better whole. In the end though, it’s seems like Magnetic: Case Closed doesn’t want to be anything more than a Portal clone with a different hook; like it lacks ambition to stand on it’s own, and in that lies it’s biggest disappointment. It just feels like a pointless game. There aren’t enough puzzles, and what little puzzles there are, they just aren’t that fun or engaging. None of the set up makes sense, none of the characters or the weird moralities they try to explore make any sense. It’s just a bit silly, and it didn’t do much for me at all.
James Swinbanks is a Games Critic currently writing for GameSpot, although you’ll still occasionally see him popping up on Player 2, because frankly, he loves the smell of the place.