Magrunner: Dark Pulse is a new PC-only title that draws heavily from first person puzzlers like Portal and Quantum Conundrum. It’s a title that, while not as refined as Portal, still scratches that very particular itch.
As the gameplay video above highlights, Magrunner puts players in control of a character named Max, an astronaut who is part of the Magrunner program. As part of this program, Max is asked to complete a series of “tests” (a.k.a. puzzle rooms) using only his wits and his trusty mag glove.
The mag glove is the game’s corollary to the portal gun, and functions (from a mechanics perspective) almost exactly like Valve‘s revolutionary device. Players launch a red colored magnetic charge with the left mouse button and a green colored charge with the right button.
Peppered throughout each of the test rooms are various items (boxes, platforms) that the player can charge with either of the two magnetic colors. Charging two items with the same color draws them together, and charging them with different colors repels them. It’s a pretty simple mechanic on the surface, but one that gets more involved as the player progresses.
In fact, it didn’t take long (as you can see in the video) for me to hit a mental wall, wondering what to do next. That may be due to some fault in my imaginative wiring, but it’s worth mentioning that the game doesn’t do a great job of establishing the basic rules of the mag glove.
While Portal starts small with some very basic puzzles, Magrunner throws players head first into the experience with very little explanation. It’s only through trial and error that the player discovers that multiple blocks rappel further or which items can be magnetically charged.
There’s something to be said about a game that doesn’t do a lot of hand-holding, but when the game can’t effectively communicate what the player should do next that’s a problem. Again, I’m not ruling out the pressure of performing on video and a lack of focus as potential contributing factors in my inability to complete early level puzzles, but there’s still a clear lack of contextual clues in the puzzle rooms.
Visually, the game is quite striking, and the levels only escalate in detail as the player progresses. Stark white rooms with splashes of color eventually give way to dilapidated industrial levels with their own sense of personality. And as the levels get more detailed, the puzzles get even more complex.
Magrunner: Dark Pulse will appeal most to fans of Portal or Quantum Conundrum, as titles like these are so rare. It might not operate on the same level as Portal, but it’s definitely cut from the same cloth.
Have you had a chance to check out Magrunner: Dark Pulse? What do you think of the game?
Magrunner: Dark Pulse is available now on Steam for $19.99
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