Unimaginable horrors hide in the darkness. Is there a monster lurking just out of sight? Or maybe a deadly trap poised to cut you to shreds? In Closure, such conventional fears never surface. Rather, it's the darkness itself that poses the biggest threat. To step off the lightened path into the gaping, black abyss is to know death up close and personal. One misstep and you're swallowed whole. The rules defy the very basics of reality, opening the door for a diverse assortment of puzzling rooms that leave you gasping at their sheer inventiveness. Death greets you when light fades away, and it's through this dynamic that Closure establishes itself as a smart and perplexing puzzler.
Four legs, two arms, one horn. It's a creature that should stay out of view from prying eyes, in the shelter of the darkness. Despite its off-putting appearance, this is not a beast to be feared: it's the protagonist. Walking with crablike grace, it picks its way through the blackened wasteland. It's scared of the dark, and rightfully so. Though it doesn't utter a word, there's a jarring humanness to its movement. When it makes a mistake, it shrugs, a creepy caricature of human reaction to failure. Jump into one of the four worlds, and you don a mask, hiding the alien body underneath. These superficial changes make your character look human, though you're never secure in this assessment. Unnerving imagery hides in the darkness. A lighted gazebo populated by all manner of deranged beings bursts into view when you least expect it, exposing the weird underbelly of this desolate world.
The sparse narrative threads hint at a larger story, though the details of your predicament are never explored. This trend begins in the introductory levels. Nudges push you in the right direction, but Closure avoids spelling out exactly what the rules entail. You learn for yourself, through experimentation, so you understand the underlying mechanics because you discovered them yourself, rather than having them told to you.
You stand in utter blackness. At your feet lies a sphere of light. It emits a radiant glow that hints at safety, peace. However, the darkness ahead, behind, above, below you is anything but. A prompt urges you to pick up this light source. You cradle it in your arms and walk forward. The path lights up. Where once only darkness existed, now there's light and solid ground to walk upon. Behind you, darkness swallows what used to be a safe path. Behind you, there's only death. So you walk forward, shining the light to slowly reveal the path before you.
Closure is built upon the relationship of light and darkness. Anything that's visible becomes tangible. Ground and walls materialize in your view, transforming into sturdy objects that you can interact with. When the light fades away, those same constructions cease to exist. Walk across a lighted patch of ground, and no danger troubles you. Step on that same place without the protective aura of a light, and you fall into a pitch-black gulf. It's a surreal concept that turns its nose up at the most basic ideas that form your own perception of reality. Coming to terms with the rules requires you to relax any stubborn attachment you have to the nature of existence.
Your objective is straightforward: find the door that transports you to the next level. But getting to the door isn't always enough to move onward. You might need a special key to get inside. No light is emitted from these objects, so you have to improvise. Shine a beam of light on the ground so you can carry the key to the door, or juggle a light source to keep the key away from the darkness. If it falls into the inky abyss, you fail the level, so tread carefully.
Experimentation brings incredible rewards. When a pillar blocks your path, adjust the light source until it fades out of view. Now you can pass by it unhindered, as long as you can see ground on the other side. When you happen upon a mysterious hole in the ground, drop your light source down the chute. The shadow that forms beneath your feet means you follow the falling light source down to the bottom. What waits for you down below is impossible to know until you land there. Is there a ledge to catch you? Or a bottomless pit that inhales your plummeting body? There's only one way to find out.
Though your move set is limited, a wealth of puzzling situations await. Your masked creature can carry items, tilt lamps, push boxes, and perform a modest leap. Special sconces provide variety. Place a light source in one of these and it might illuminate different parts of the level. Or it might turn one of your precious balls of light into two. Some sconces travel along a predetermined path once you place a light bulb inside them. Stand on a rising spotlight and a temporary elevator is created. You rise to higher ground, then pluck the light source from its holder. Closure introduces new ideas slowly, building on your repertoire without ever overwhelming you. Every puzzle introduces something unique to keep you invested, and the smooth difficulty curve ensures that you thoroughly understand the basic rules before challenging conundrums temporarily halt your progress.
Controls function admirably in the slow-paced situations that dominate Closure. However, when speed is imperative, their lack of precision becomes apparent. In certain segments, you have to place a light source in a sconce and then quickly pick up a key before you're cast into darkness. Press the interact button, and you might pick up the already placed light source, or nothing at all. It takes a bit of finagling to ensure you're picking up the right object, and losing those precious seconds could mean instant death. Speed is an issue whether you're using the keyboard or a controller, though thankfully few puzzles demand quick action. However, there are instances where you might slide off slanted platforms that should be able to bear your weight. These occurrences are rare and stand in sharp contrast to the normal manner in which death greets you.
Failure is predominantly your fault in Closure. Tilt a lamp to light a path above you only to watch in horror as the platform you're standing on fades into nothingness. Drop a light source on spiked ground, and watch it shatter into a million pieces. Knock a key into a dark hollow and it disappears. The basic concept in Closure is difficult to wrap your head around, so these mistakes are common if you're the slightest bit impatient. But failure is not a serious setback. You immediately restart at the beginning of the level, hopefully wiser than you were the first time around.
Black-and-white visuals create a sharp contrast between what you can and cannot interact with. But aside from the obvious gameplay implications of such a style, the mood transports you into this world. There's a suffocating feeling that threatens to strangle you at any moment. You fear death because it's so prevalent. So you move slowly, take in the sights, learn the environment. And still, you fall victim to its beguiling nature. A pounding, dissonant soundtrack cements this feeling. When you're lost in a pitch-black sea, the music hums and swirls in your head, making you fear for your safety, afraid of what could emerge in the darkness. Though there's no combat in Closure, no enemies to run away from, there's a frightful atmosphere that nonetheless keeps you on edge.
Closure relies heavily on its novel mechanics to create an enticing puzzler. But this is more than just a clever gimmick. The steady difficulty curve and wealth of ideas offer an uncommon experience, and the effective artistic design meshes wonderfully with these aspects. Closure is a smart, original adventure that makes you fear darkness above all else because one misstep can spell your doom.