Review: Magrunner – Dark Pulse / Publisher: 3 AM Games / Platform: All / Release Date: Out Now
Portal is responsible for two things: encouraging a whole host of puzzle games to be produced, and also ensuring that any such puzzle game would contain a decent story. That said, it’s profoundly unfair to compare Magrunner: Dark Pulse to Portal. Apart from being a story-lead puzzle inspired game, they’re nothing like each other.
The plot of Magrunner: Dark Pulse involves a young man competing with others for the honour of being a space explorer. Set in a cyberpunk dystopia, Magrunner is very exposition-heavy, with much of the drama being told to you rather than discovered through gameplay. Though the setting isn’t particularly rich or original, there are still a lot of interesting little story elements that keep it going, building up to a wonderfully creepy peak when the player discovers exactly what has gone horribly wrong with the world and what malign forces are responsible. As the game dips into horror, the puzzles become harder and the revelations keep coming. Though Magrunner is stuffed full of tropes and odd references, this actually makes the whole thing charming rather than dull.
This is perhaps because you have to work very hard to get anywhere in the game. The puzzles are all based around magnetic attraction. You have a special glove that allows you to grant certain objects a magnetic field, simply by pointing and clicking. Attraction and repulsion make up a lot of the action, but later elements include mag-lev style trains and the like. These make up for a series of very challenging puzzles that can be a little frustrating at times, mostly because it’s really easy to miss with the glove and find yourself being hurtled toward a wall at high speed. The graphics are okay and the design aesthetic is a nice mix of glowing black box and implied evil. Overall, this is a fun game and worth your time.