Magnetic: Cage Closed Review

You gotta let me out!

Magnetic: Cage Closed is a game where every second is a battle against loose jumping and even looser primary gimmick powers as you solve mindless puzzles. Unwieldy imprecision is at the core of Magnetic, and it makes for a terribly frustrating experience.

Originally created as a student project for developer Guru Games, Magnetic: Cage Closed is a puzzle-platformer with magnetic force as the primary gimmick. Stuck in some dystopian prison (for reasons that are never properly explained) and sentenced to death row, your character is given a chance at freedom if she can escape the twisted, sadistic warden’s experimental weapons laboratory by becoming the latest guinea pig for a new supertool: a magnet gun.

This is as subtle as Magnetic's storytelling gets.
This is as subtle as Magnetic's storytelling gets.

If that sounds like an intriguing premise, it is. The game was originally designed as Portal meets The Cube, and solving physics-based puzzles in a totalitarian prison environment sounds like an idea with legs. However, it's clear that Magnetic: Cage Closed doesn't have the personality or fresh perspective to pull this sort of material off. The primary villain, the warden, is GlaDos without any of that homicidal AI's charm or humor. And while the game has every right to tell a more serious story, it doesn't, despite many attempts. There's no nuance or subtlety to the villains, your environment, or your actions. Thus, the story is an "evil prison" with no context or heart pushing you forward.

The game's primary gimmick is magnetic attraction/repulsion. You're given a magnet gun--with three different power settings--that you can use to attract surfaces or repel them. You can use your gun to pick up boxes and then shoot them across the room. You can levitate across specialized magnetic pads and use those pads to fling yourself across rooms. But at every turn, it never felt like I was in true control of my movements and actions.

If I never see another lever again, it will be too soon.
If I never see another lever again, it will be too soon.

It's the little things that add up in Magnetic: Cage Closed's avalanche of missteps. Mid-puzzle checkpoints are a rarity, almost to the point of being non-existent. For many of the more-involved, late-game puzzles, you will play long sections of puzzles over and over again as you reach the spot where one botched jump or poorly executed magnetic repulsion flight means instant death through impalement or a slow death through chlorine gas poison.

At the beginning of the game, it's not an issue. Magnetic is simply dull. But the back half of the game featured multiple puzzles that I spent over half an hour on (and two that took over an hour) not because the puzzles were difficult to solve--puzzles are never more involved than "get boxes here"--but because the platforming refused to cooperate. Various "puzzles" rely on trial-and-error guessing instead of logic. You're required to shoot boxes at certain buttons surrounded by magnetic attraction/repulsion pads, which create magnetic fields around the button keeping you from shooting the box directly at the button. And that's cool...in theory. But what it ultimately comes to is figuring out early where exactly you need to shoot the box and then spending 10 minutes nailing the sweet spot.

Rarely has a tool felt so useless.
Rarely has a tool felt so useless.

The game also features "moral choices," but they're extremely simple. The first choice (arguably the most clever) involves simply pressing a button or not pressing a button within one minute. The rest are stale: sentence someone to certain death or don't (without ever putting a face to the person you're making a decision about); seek revenge or take a more selfless action. The choices could have been interesting, but you’re never given any context to make you care about why you're doing anything.

Magnetic: Cage Closed is not a puzzle platformer that will tickle your brain and push your problem-solving capabilities. Extreme repetition, poor controls, and a barely there story makes this game a dull proposition from start to finish.

The Good
Magnetic gameplay makes for intriguing gimmick
The Bad
Platforming feels extremely imprecise
Endless box puzzles wear thin early
Story is devoid of life or intrigue
Endless sterile prison/experimental corridors rob game of any visual diversity
Checkpoint system is brutally unforgiving
3
Bad
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About the Author

Puzzle-platformers are easily Don's third favorite genre behind RPGs and 4X strategy games, but neither Magnetic: Cage Closed's platforming or puzzling were redeemable. He spent around 7 hours with the game.

Magnetic: Cage Closed More Info

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  • First Released May 26, 2015
    released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Magnetic: Cage Closed drops players into the role of a prisoner serving time for past crimes in a vast, ever-changing prison with chambers that shift in random patterns.
    8.3
    Average Rating3 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Guru Games
    Published by:
    Gambitious
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, First-Person, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood, Violence