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Video Game Review: Closure

March 31, 2012 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post
Closure
Closure’s art style is as unique as its light-based gameplay.

Puzzle games have existed in many forms since the dawn of the video game industry, but this generation’s set has focused on breaking the laws of physics — Portal, Braid, and Echochrome have all found success by taking the usual perspective and literally changing how people think. Playstation Network exclusive Closure is the latest entry in this genre. Braid dealt with time, Echochrome dealt with perspective, Portal dealt with, um, portals; Closure looks at how light plays into puzzle solving.

CONTROLS (4/5)

Most 2D puzzle-platformers have pretty standard controls, and Closure is no different. Movement uses the directional pad, not the analog stick. The square button is a general interaction button: pick up or drop stuff, interact with the environment and manipulate objects. The triangle button opens the door that ends each level, so you’ll be itching to figure out how you actually get to the point where you can hit that darn triangle button.

Closure does have platform elements, as you’ll be moving from lit area to lit area. Thus, you’ll jumping around a bit, and the “X” button handles the jumping. Most of Closure’s movement is crisp and appropriate, but the jumping is a little floaty at times. Because you can only move on to areas lit by spotlights or other devices, accurate jumping is important and you might find yourself floating into oblivion a little more than you’d like.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4/5)

Closure’s distinct art style looks like ink art come to live. Striking black-and-white visuals create a unique look. Of course, you don’t see too much of this at once since only a part of the screen is visible at any given time. Everything bleeds a feeling of despair, though there’s no strong narrative to tie all of this together. The main character looks like Samus Aran as visualized by Tim Burton, and while you never really establish an emotional connection, there’s no doubt that the game looks like an animated work of art.

In contrast, the music is dour but not stark. It’s fitting but not particularly memorable in any way; it could be cut-and-pasted into the loading menu of any gritty sci-fi game. It might have been interesting if the developers went with the Survival Horror method of silence to accompany the game.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

Similar to Echochrome, the goal of Closure is to manipulate your perspective and surroundings to get to the exit. And similar to Braid, this is done in a way that breaks the laws of perception to solve puzzles on a 2D platform. Saying that you want to get from A to B is easy, but Closure’s puzzles are unique in that the only tangible places your character can go have to be lit. That means that you either have to place a glowing ball in certain areas, light a lamp, or tilt a light at an appropriate angle — and if there’s an object in the light’s way, you can bet that it will block out the illumination.

That’s the starting point. Then you add in the environment — jumping, climbing, swimming. Keys, boulders, and blocks are susceptible to these rules to you, so if you’ve picked up and placed a key in a certain place, make sure that area stays lit. Otherwise, the key will tumble into the ether and you’ll have to start over again.

Sometimes, you’ll use these elements to your advantage. For example, if you need to transfer a block down to a lower area, simply eliminating the light around it will cause the block to fall. This technique can be employed to trigger buttons, move key elements, or enable boulders to roll down the path.

As expected, the puzzles vary in complexity throughout Closure’s 70 or so levels, but they do gradually ramp up in difficulty. For the avid puzzle game fan, this will be heaven, as the game’s moody artwork and atmosphere provide a truly unique experience. For casual gamers, Closure provides an addicting pick-up-and-play scenario, though without a narrative to tie it all together, it’s simply puzzle after puzzle. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to know that what you see is what you get.

OVERALL (4/5)

Even though it’s an independent release, Closure has garnered enough hype and curiosity for Sony to give it a lot of exposure on the Playstation Store. Its combination of head-scratching play (where frustration often gives way to a brilliant a-ha moment) and distinct art style make it among the class of independent releases, and even non-genre fans should check it out if they want an experience that doesn’t involve saving the world from invading aliens, giant dragons, or dudes with machine guns.

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