Magnetic: Cage Closed is, in just about every way conceivable, a perfectly functional game. There’s only one or two things that I can look at and say, “that’s bad”. The problem however, is that while the game is technically sound and I haven’t encountered any bugs or glitches, I can’t find anything that makes me want to play it.
Were I asked to deliver an elevator pitch for Magnetic: Cage Closed, I would say that the game is a mix of the 1997 sci-fi pyscho-horror movie “Cube” and Portal. Both these properties have an established following, one more than the other, but both stand alone as being fairly distinct entries in their medium. The problem with Magnetic: Cage Closed is that it feels like it wants to be as popular or respected as Portal. And that’s just not going to happen.
Now I’m not going to just compare the game to Portal, that would defeat the purpose of this article. This game absolutely is not a Portal clone, it’s different in regards to setting, theme, narrative and gameplay.
"A huge amount of the puzzles could be solved easily if you could just pull yourself across the room to one of the many metallic objects in the room. But for the sake of having the game work, you can't. Rather, you will repeat the process of putting boxes on buttons and repetition will set in long before intrigue takes over."
Magnetic: Cage Closed is set in an alternate version of our world where the Cold War and things aren’t going ahead as the higher ups would have liked. So, by my understanding the Government has opened up a way of buying your execution, these purchased individuals are being used for experiments in exceptionally dangerous testing facilities. One of these facilities is Facility 7, the setting of the game and you are placed in the shoes of an inmate called Rachel.
Having been told that your refusal to move forward will result in your death by gassing, you set forth into the facility in earnest where you’re given possession of the Magnet Gun, designation D-27 prototype and thrust into a world of dangerous testing chambers.
The game makes a point of giving the player choices to make and although these choices are supposed to build the character and the world, not once did I feel like I cared. But with that being said, the dialogue itself is all very well delivered and the voice actors performed admirably in their roles. Especially the Wardens voice that rings out with his convictions of your condemnation.
Not all the audio in the game can be praised though. It has been a very long time since I heard a noise anywhere near as obnoxious as the sound of weighted cubes in Magnetic: Cage Closed. Yes, it makes perfect sense that a huge metallic object would make a lot of noise when it bounces around. But this was just ridiculous. And the less said about Rachel’s cries of pain, the better.
The Magnet Gun is, as a gameplay mechanic, not exactly inspired and although it functions well enough, it does so within the confines of what the developer deemed acceptable. You’re using a magnetic gun, so surely you can use it on more than just the metal you’re told you can interact with, right? No. A huge amount of the puzzles could be solved easily if you could just pull yourself across the room to one of the many metallic objects in the room. But for the sake of having the game work, you can’t. Rather, you will repeat the process of putting boxes on buttons and repetition will set in long before intrigue takes over.
"Negative points aside, the game is still technically sound and very playable. It's entirely possible that it just didn't click with me whereas for someone else it might be game of the year material. So with all that to consider, I would say that there's a niche to be found here, and it may well slide into place, like so many boxes on buttons."
The problem isn’t that the puzzles you’re asked to solve are poorly designed, there’s some real gems in here. The problem is that the Magnet Gun doesn’t offer enough creative freedom outside the confines of its design. The Magnet Gun simply pushes and pulls and as long as you keep these two functions in mind when solving puzzles and tackling problems, most things can be overcome rather quickly. The only time you’re likely to suffer a set back is if you accidentally fall into one of the many instruments of death. There’s no checkpoint mid-puzzle most of the time, so death puts you back to the beginning of the chamber.
The transition from test room to test room is handled by passing through a connecting tunnel that Rachel must crawl through. It doesn’t sound like much, but crawling through these is slow and you’re quickly going to get sick of it. Waiting for the seal to open, then waiting on the inner seal to open as well, then making Rachel clamber inside and crawl through, just to climb out the other side for the umteeth time quickly becomes grating.
Negative points aside, the game is still technically sound and very playable. It’s entirely possible that it just didn’t click with me whereas for someone else it might be game of the year material. So with all that to consider, I would say that there’s a niche to be found here, and it may well slide into place, like so many boxes on buttons.
This game was previewed on the PC.