How do they work?!
If you’ve been itching for more bleak, dystopian sci-fi adventures, Guru Games possibly has the one for you. In Magnetic: Cage Closed (pun noted but not appreciated), characters control Bird, a black female prisoner in an alternate historical 1960s. In this revision of the Cold War era, the US has begun selling the rights to execute or do whatever with prisoners to private corporations. The company Bird has been sold to has decided to perform experiments by way of its magnetic gun and a series of puzzle rooms. But before you dismiss this as a Portal knockoff, I can assure you that there’s plenty here that’s attractive.
The magnet gun has two basic modes—positive and negative—and the player can adjust the intensity of either using the mouse wheel. Using these simple functions, you must pick up and move blocks, shift platforms, and even send Bird flying around each room. For example, in one room where I needed to make large jumps, I set the gun to its highest strength and repelled myself off some stationary magnetic panels so as not to fall onto a bed of spikes. Yes, this game is dangerous, seemingly more so than its analogous predecessor. The warden of this prison is highly interested in your doom so he can move on with his job, it seems.
Magnetic holds more tricks up its sleeve, though. Every few puzzles, Karen, a psychiatrist who’s evaluating both you and the gun, will have you make choices in special rooms. These begin innocuously enough as choosing whether or not to push a button, but I’m told players will eventually be asked to decide the fate of other prisoners going through the same ordeal.
The choices you make also affect the puzzles you do. The prison is actually structured like the eponymous cube in The Cube, where each room shifts about while you’re inside it. Not only does this ensure multiple playthroughs to see the outcome of each choice, but Petter Henriksson, the PR person for the game, told me many of the puzzles have multiple solutions.
Guru Games is hoping for a game length of 6-8 hours and that the replay value will increase the value of the product to players. I will admit that I approached the game, thinking it a gritty Portal clone, but what I played had me pretty excited. For one, it didn’t take long before game solutions required thinking outside the cube, err, box. The time spent in tutorial mode was lovingly brief. I’m also deeply interested in the kinds of choices that will be presented over the course of the game and how nuanced they’ll be. Last, the stark contrast between the slightly sympathetic Karen and the disinterested warden should add a dynamic layer to this odd theme of imprisonment.
The game should be out on PC and Xbox One by the end of March or in early April. The cost should range from $15 for Magnetic: Cage Closed alone to $20 for a special edition with additional features and levels. Here’s hoping that this team from Sweden builds something more memorable and impactful than a refrigerator magnet.