Set in a near future cyberpunk story, players take on the role of Dax, one of seven candidates chosen by MagTech to test their new magnetic based technology for future space exploration. What begins as a once in a lifetime opportunity ends up becoming a descent into the madness of the Cthulhu Mythos as you try to solve puzzles to survive.
Pro Solid gameplay that is easy to grasp
Drawing heavy inspiration from Portal, Magrunner: Dark Pulse is another entry into the physics based puzzle genre that utilizes magnetism instead of portals. By using a special glove, which is very responsive and easy to control, you are able to give various objects a magnetic charge. The goal is to use the attraction and repulsion properties of magnets to open pathways and move around the levels. Objects are lit up as red or green to represent the two different charges an object can have. The mechanics work by having objects of the same color charge being attracted together, while being repulsed by objects of other color charge. While this opposite of how magnets work in real life, this concept is actually much easier to understand, especially when trying to deal with multiple objects at the same time. The game even offers the ability to see the magnetic field each object generates, making it easier to determine if the objects will be able to interact.
Pro Great sense of accomplishment from solving puzzles
The later levels of Magrunner offer puzzles in large areas with multiple elements to work with. Due to the scale of these puzzles, you can end up spending a decent amount of time trying to figure out everything in the room works. It ends up being very satisfying once everything clicks together and you reach the end of the room.
Pro Ability to change the color of the charges
The initial colors representing the magnetic charges are red and green, which may be difficulty for people with color blindness to distinguish between. There is a setting in the options that allows for the charges to be changed to red and blue.
Pro Soundtrack adds to the ambiance of the environment
Starting off with an up-beat, electronic song, the soundtrack feels right at home for the futuristic testing facility that Magrunner begins in. As the tone of the story and the environment descends into darkness, the soundtrack matches this shift with tracks that sound more eerie and ominous. There are even points where the music takes on a random, chaotic structure, giving the soundtrack a feel of a descent into madness fitting for the Cthulhu Mythos. Combined with the occasional cries of an unknown monster and distorted voices speaking in an unknown language, the soundtrack serves as a great enhancement of the ambiance set by the environment.
Pro Beautiful environment that evolves as the story progresses
Magrunner starts out in a bright, futuristic looking set of testing rooms that not only look appealing, but feels fitting for a facility that is testing technology for eventual space exploration. As the story becomes more serious and descends into darker tones fitting of the Cthulhu Mythos, the rooms match this shift, becoming more dimly lit and broken down. The testing facility appears to be slowly merging with Cthulhu's dimension as statues depicting monsters appearing more and more frequently as time passes. As the ritual to summon Cthulhu near completion, the environment evolves once more into a merger of mostly Cthulhu's dimension with an accent of various parts of the testing facility. Meanwhile, a shadowy Cthulhu hovers in the distance of a beautiful, but eerie, interplanetary background.
Con Monsters felt uninspired and awkward
The Cthulhu Mythos is one filled with deities and monsters that drive people insane from a mere glimpse. However, the monsters in Magrunner are anything but horrifying. The models for the monsters do not look terrifying compared to other games and are plagued by awkward and clunky movements. This results in a disappointment of the petrifying potential the Cthulhu Mythos has to offer and the eerie ambiance set up by the soundtrack and environment.
Con Puzzles can be very frustrating, mostly near the end
Puzzles near the end can be rather difficult to solve for a multitude of reasons. The large scale of some of the rooms as well as multiple elements to work with at a time can make it overwhelming when determining the solution for reaching the next stage. Additional complicating factors can include having to change an object's charge from a distance, ensuring that the timing for changing an object's charge is correct to get the desired effect, and some difficult platforming jumps. A combination some or all of these variables can result in a lot of frustration when trying to solve a puzzle and might drive a player to using a walkthrough or outright quitting.
Con Start of the game feels slow
Every time you move to a new room, whether it be an elevator for the dialogue to advance the story or into the room for the next puzzle, the game ends up on a loading screen. The load times are not very long, usually around 5 seconds, but because the start of the game has multiple elevator rides and quick, easy to solve puzzles, there will be a lot of loading screens in the beginning, making the pacing feel a little too drawn out.