Trapped inside a strange prison-like facility, if you didn’t know where you were, then you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking you were inside the world of GLaDOS, ready to fight your way out with the help of a portal of two.
But whilst Magnetic Cage Closed may have more than a hint of Valve’s blockbusting first person puzzler, things are very different inside this facility. Very different indeed.
Gone are the portals that spawned a whole generation of new titles and the portal gun that creates them is nowhere to be seen. In its place is a Magnet Gun giving you the ability to create electromagnetic fields across each and every area that you frequent. It’s this gun which will be your key to your escape from the strange twisted cubed world that you find yourself in. Won’t it?
Firing both positive and negative charges around the place is great fun, and whether you’re using it to pick up and carry small metal boxes in order to solve the puzzles ahead, or firing items at lightspeed across the room in order to hit that teasing red button, Magnetic Cage Closed does a decent enough job at drawing you in and keeping you interested. The puzzles are well designed and need a ton of thinking in order for you to make your way to the escape hatch, before finding yourself slammed in the middle of a new room, full of new unique elements and some highly strung brain taxing moments.
If you don’t have any boxes at hand to aid your escape, then you’ll be able to use your Magnet Gun to drag platforms, move balls or help fling yourself across the room, dodging obstacles and deadly traps as you do so. With an adjustable power option on the gun, there are times when you’ll need to power it up in order to increase the electrical fields, seeing you fly with the greatest of ease to the next podium. But turn it down, and either you, or the item you are trying to interact with will only move slightly, ensuring that those precise moments are capable of hitting.
The levels are diverse and each playthrough will seem different as multiple paths and secret areas ensure that the mysterious story that the prison warden slowly feeds to you will unfold in many unique ways. In fact, it all begins off fairly well, until you start digging a little deeper and discovering the flaws.
Unfortunately, for all the good ideas that come to the fore, there are a few too many things that stop Magnetic Cage Closed being the enjoyable puzzler that Xbox One owners deserve.
Firstly, whilst the visuals are of reasonable quality, easily detailing everything that needs to be seen, a fair bit of screen tearing and lag, especially when running fast near the edge of a wall, ruins the experience. It doesn’t affect the game itself too much and you can definitely get by without having to worry about it, but for an Xbox One title, we really should be expecting a more polished affair.
What does knock things down massively though are some very dodgy physics – something that affects a game fully based on standard laws. Jumping and flinging yourself from pillar to post is a joyous experience, but grab a metal block or two, switch the heat on the Magnet Gun up to full power and boxes will fly around in a strange unpredictable way. At times, you can grab the cubes and they’ll connect to your gun instantly, whilst in other instances, they’ll drop to the floor like you weren’t even there. It really does seem like a 50/50 chance as to whether they’ll stick and with no way of knowing, ensures that the more complex tasks are met with annoyance. When you do come to then fire them off at a button or switch on a far wall, they will again sometimes take on a mind of their own with it being in the lap of the gods as to where they eventually end up. It’s frustrating to see and can infuriate immensely when you’re trying to pick up and place certain items in specific points on the latter levels.
Whilst the main campaign is of reasonable length, there really isn’t an awful lot else included in this closed cage to keep you occupied. That is apart from the strange inclusion of a time trial mode, giving you the chance to speedrun through the levels you have already unlocked. Initially this seems like a great addition, more so when you discover that many of the levels lend themselves supremely well towards learning the art of the speedrunner, but the complete and utter omission of any form of leaderboard, saved time or reason behind it ultimately makes each and every time trial useless.
As a Portal puzzling wannabe, Magnetic Cage Closed was high on my radar as something to check out. It falls short in many areas though and whilst there may always be a way out of the maze, I’m not sure switching off my console is the way it was all planned.