It’s hard to look at successful games and then think you can improve upon them. It’s even harder to try and tweak a successful game just enough to make it stand out from just being a clone. You see that in mobile games all the time; games trying to make some quick cash off the most popular ones that introduced something original. This happens so often that the original gameplay soon becomes stale after your have 30 titles with the exact same mechanic.
Of course that’s not only in Appland, but it also happens on Steam. You see games looking to make cheaply made visual novels or rougelikes in order to get some of that sweet sweet cash. But like I said literally one paragraph ago – it’s hard to tweak a formula just enough to make it stand out. Which brings me to the game that actually did stand out to me despite looking exactly like Portal with a darker tone – Magnetic: Cage Closed.
The very first difference I noticed when I started up this game is just how dark it was compared to Portal. And Magnetic: Cage Closed does absolutely look straight out of Portal with low contrast. Or… other… things you do with Photoshop. Look, I play video games; you want good words, get a languager.
The second thing that I noticed was instead of the monotonic voice that would subtly insert the rage and hate that comes with god-like robots, there’s some guy who doesn’t even try to hide his contempt. It doesn’t make much difference or improvement. At least the voice acting isn’t subpar. And then the guy says something about making a choice. I could either leave the room I get stuffed in or just stay there and wait until the room fills with chlorine gas.
Being a super cool rebel, I decided to stick it to The Man by improving my resistance to chlorine. Magnetic: Cage Closed promptly ended with my death and I waited to respawn to make the “choice” again. A couple seconds later, the credits started to play. Then I was brought back to the main menu. Then I noticed that the save file I had was only a few minutes long with the words “Game Clear.” Any attempts I made to play that save file again failed and I could only play Magnetic: Cage Closed again from the beginning. What a rather short, but enlightening experience!
This suddenly put the pressure on making the right choice. The first choice I made was only a few minutes in the game, but later on there was another choice I had to make: Step on a button or don’t. The room’s walls had various mannequins placed in certain positions; the ones that had pressed the button looked victorious and positive, while the ones that weren’t looked frightened and cautious. My paranoia flared up and I really didn’t want to risk having to repeat the last twenty or so minutes just to get back to this point.
The fact that I couldn’t manually save was what prompted me to actually step on the button regardless of consequences. Of course, nothing happened when I did. I also can’t be sure if not stepping on the button did anything, but I wasn’t all too bothered to find out.
Now I realize that I wrote about five hundred words so far and I haven’t mentioned the core mechanic of Magnetic: Cage Closed. It’s not all that game-changing, though. Don’t think with portals, but rather magnets. Pull the object from over there to here, or repel yourself from the magnetic wall to make yourself jump further. Make sure not to accidentally pull yourself off a ledge when trying to grab that box over there. Make sure your aim isn’t off in order to repel the smaller box into the button over there.
The pressure to do these tasks quickly, however, is far more prevalent in Magnetic: Cage Closed than Portal. The jeering and insults actually started to get under my skin a little bit when I was trying to complete a puzzle with a time limit until chlorine gas filled the room. At this point I didn’t care that the story almost had a direct ripoff of the Ratman from Portal or how the puzzle wasn’t actually hard but rather time-consuming.
So, perhaps the story gets more interesting, perhaps the puzzles get far more complex as more elements get introduced, perhaps Magnetic: Cage Closed might even get great mod support like Portal did. But I had fun for the time I played.
There’s more game left, so I don’t think it would be fair to make an actual review but I do think I’ve seen enough of the game to properly relay whether this could grab the interest or not of you readers. Leave what you think in the comments below. Does the game remind you too much of Portal in order to properly attract your attention? Do the magnetic mechanics seem enough of a change to the formula to make Magnetic: Cage Closed original? Would watching the game in would be more up your alley to decide whether or not the game is something to discuss? Why or why not?
This reviewer got a Steam key to the game for free and tried his best not to procrastinate.