Magnetic: Cage Closed – Review

Title   Magnetic: Cage Closed
Developer  Guru Games
Publisher  Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Platform  Windows PC
Genre  Puzzler, action, adventure
Release Date  May 26th, 2015
Official Site

magneticrev1Let’s get the obvious out of the way – first and foremost this is Portal with magnets. To (the awkwardly named) Magentic: Cage Closed‘s credit, it does enough to define itself as a game without coming off as a pure Portal clone, but stepping out from a shadow that large does prove to be difficult at times. If you’re used to ‘thinking with Portals’ just drop the Portals for ‘Magnets’ and you’re three quarters of the way there. So grab a slice of cake and be GLaDOS that I’m here to advise you about Guru Games’ latest release and no, I’m not ever going to apologise for that incredibly laboured pun.

Magnetic: Cage Closed starts with your female character strapped to a bed and being transported through the bowels of Facility 7, a place where all manner of experiments are being conducted with the aid of inmates on Death Row and, of course, that’s where you come in. Your introduction and whole experience is guided by a couple of characters, a male and female who both work at Facility. They’re both integral to the story because they are with you for pretty much the whole adventure and take it in turns to audibly accompany you through the series of ‘chambers’. The chambers are split into chapters and at the end of each one is a test, ranging from asking you a question about the previous chambers to see if you were paying attention, or asking you to make a moral choice.


Interestingly, one of these questions appears to have absolutely zero effect, regardless of which option you take, and without doing two full playthroughs, changing only that variable, it would be difficult for me to comment on what happens. Suffice to say, I’m suitably intrigued by just that one part of the story, and the concept of a branching story in a first-person puzzler is novel and refreshing. The branching story comes from your answer to the questions that you are posed and getting incorrect answers sends you to what the characters refer to as ‘correctional’ areas, which translates as punishments for not answering correctly – they’re still chambers with puzzles in, but it’s at least interesting to have these options thrown in front of us.

magneticrev3The gameplay, as you may have gathered, revolves around your use of the magnetic gun which, much like the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, has two settings and these could be construed as being very similar to the settings on Half-Life 2′s Gravity Gun. The functions are push and pull, with options to increase or decrease the strength of said actions. At first, this seemed very pointless – why would you not have it set to full strength all the time? This became apparent when, during a puzzle involving the careful placement of (not-companion) cubes, I carelessly went to pull one just out of reach and managed to drag five more with it, resetting all my progress. I can’t lie when I say that I was equal parts frustrated and impressed because this is science at work – if the attraction is strong enough, it doesn’t matter whether its two feet or twenty feet away, it’s going to fly towards your face at a rate of knots.

The levels all revolve around a variety of different puzzles that are pretty well mixed up and which involve some genuine head-scratchers at times. I can’t say there was anything that stumped me to the same level that some of Portal’s did, but they were still challenging, regardless. The only downside to a good portion of the puzzles is the insta-death that awaits you if you put a foot wrong. Most of the time this comes from chlorine gas or spikes that shoot up from the floor. I wouldn’t mind so much but these tend to reset your progress and just really slow down the pace of the game. Although puzzle games have a history of struggling to offset the relative lack of danger when puzzle solving, this is kind of irritating, especially without a quicksave option. Death in the chlorine takes anything up to five-eight seconds from the moment you realise you’re fucked until the game loads and you’re back – for some of the tougher puzzles this is genuinely frustrating.

As previously mentioned, towards the end of each chapter, there is a choice to be made or a question to be answered surrounding different things. To give it away would spoil certain aspects of the game but what I can say is that it’s certainly an imaginative way of going about trying to shake up the formula of story-telling in puzzle games. It’s a little different and a touch off the wall and is a way of guiding you to one of nine different endings (one of which I found by accident) but I found it thoroughly enjoyable.


Enjoyable isn’t a word that lends itself to the graphics found within Magnetic: Cage Closed because everything is a little drab. Remember how one of the complaints about Fallout 3 was all the brown, and fans rejoiced when the announcement for number four involved a smorgasbord of colour? Well, if this game gets a sequel I want someone to Art Attack this bitch. Everything is very, very dull in terms of colour, and while I appreciate that this may be the theme it gets very beige when you’re looking at the same walls and corridors over the course of the game. Portal got away with this in both games because the former had a very polished and slick aesthetic, and the latter mixed it up with test chambers doing a mix of decaying and rebuilding. Moving between test chambers in this game involves crawling through something akin to a Jefferies Tube into the next room. This is always a crawl, in a straight line, for a couple of seconds, in exactly the same tube, every single time. I wouldn’t mind this obvious loading buffer if they at least mixed up the pipes, the colours, the composition. Instead, it’s like watching a hundred slide-strong PowerPoint presentation with the same transition on every slide.

magneticrev5It isn’t all bad on the graphical front, though, because some of the more subtle touches are nice and show some care and attention to the world you inhabit. Scrawls and scribbles from former prisoners can be found on walls and doors; they are never over-used and are employed to tease rather than reveal certain aspects of just what is going on at Facility 7. The Magnetic Gun demands to be the centre of attention, given the nature of the game, and it’s nice to see that effort has gone into making this seem a little more interesting than a standard weapon in any first-person game, with lights that change, parts that rotate, and so forth. It could have been all too easy to phone this aspect of the game in but I’m glad they didn’t.

Unfortunately the audio suffered a slightly different fate, being as forgettable as one could imagine. I literally couldn’t remember anything about it, other than the voice acting behind the two speakers that follow you through the test chambers. The male comes off as a snarky Cave Johnson, and whether they’ve aimed to emulate the excellent work of J.K. Simmons, all I can hear is efforts made to try and capture the magic that he weaved throughout Portal 2. I honestly don’t think this is just because I’m a fan of his work, I think it’s because the tone and dialogue here is so similar to that spoken by Johnson. The music that plays in the background is varied but isn’t anything that stands out and it certainly isn’t going to blow you away at any point.

In terms of longevity, once you’re done with the main story there is the common puzzler problem of what to further entice the gamer with. The multiple endings and routes is certainly a step in the right direction, meaning that players who enjoy the puzzles and want to solve them will need to complete the game at least twice, which already means it’s doubled the standard life expectancy for a puzzle game. There is also a time trial mode should you wish to indulge in that aspect of things. Aside from that though, there isn’t any map creator to speak of, something that I feel would have been ideal for this type of game and in this setting.


As I said before the comparisons to Portal are inevitable from the off, and making puzzle games is a tough business when someone has near-perfected the formula. Sure, Portal isn’t the alpha and omega but it certainly sets the bar high, and when you create something that’s very similar to it, it needs to be something special. Magnetic: Cage Closed isn’t special but it certainly has a place in your library if you enjoy this type of game.

  • Good effort made to do something fresh with a story and plot, considering the genre
  • Solid puzzles
  • Some nice graphical touches
  • Some not-so-nice graphical touches.
  • Bland audio
  • Very, very similar to Portal

It would be easy to take one look at this and write it off instantly as a Portal clone, and perhaps I could be criticised for mentioning it too much but there isn't any point in denying what is right in front of you. That said, Magentic: Cage Closed is a solid puzzler that isn't ashamed of where it takes its cues from and it just about does enough to distance itself from Valve's darling child and establish itself as a decent game in its own right. It won't be winning any awards this year but it will keep you entertained.

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One Comment

  1. Ste Ste says:

    I think games like this are always gonna get lumped in with Portal, it’s inevitable. Did you ever play a game called The Ball? It’s a similar thing again however your gun thing controlled a giant stone ball which you could pull towards you and shoot it off at stuff. It was alright I guess.

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