Mento's May Madness More: #22 - Closure

May the Twenty-Second

The game: Eyebrow Interactive's Closure

The source: The Humble Indie Bundle 7

The pre-amble: Closure is a puzzle game that chiefly concerns light sources. Any area not lit up is entirely formless, regardless of whether or not there is actual solid ground hidden by the darkness, and if the player character or any items are left in the darkness they'll fall off the screen. Compounding on the complexity are all the mechanical devices that are powered by light orbs, lamps that only emit in cones of limited width, square and circular containers that can be moved and rolled and various other world-unique obstacles and features.

The playthrough: Closure's a fantastic puzzle game. For the most part, its puzzles are imaginative and devious, its presentation is bleak and tense in a way that is just as compelling to explore as it is stressful to inhabit (like, say, Limbo) and it seems to have a decent length to it, with the initial 24 puzzle rooms taking something in the region of an hour or so to complete, which is about a quarter of the entire game's content. In addition, there are optional objectives in the form of the moths which often present a far more difficult variation on the puzzle in order to reach the goal with the moth in tow.

Well this seems simple enough. Just push this box right, right? (Nope.)

If I had to gripe, and I kind of do unfortunately, it means going back to an issue I raised back when I talked about Obulis a week back. The bit about precision. Closure requires a lot of precision, especially as the puzzles get harder, and that means solving several steps in a puzzle just so in order to successfully reach the end of the stage and move onto the next. This serves to distract from the puzzle-solving aspects in order to focus on one particular sequence that requires a difficult chain of jumps or being in the right place at the right moment or modifying the speed of a rolling ball so that it doesn't speed away from you and cause a restart-necessitating mishap. In addition, the light sources have a nebulous area of effect which can often cause problems - the stylized graphics will only give you a sense of where the light radius ends as it blurs out, but it's hard to tell from a glance where the emanation is effectively curtailed without the trial and error needed to get a sense of that cut-off point. I'm semi-tempted to think of these as "action-puzzle" games, since you need a decent set of reflexes on top of a keen mind in order to succeed, and they're not always two faculties that everyone has in abundance. I mean, I do (sort of), but I'd prefer to use those reflexes for a twitchy shooter or something equally rambunctious rather than in a chilled out puzzle game.

Closure's definitely an excellent game, don't get me wrong. When you present 100 rooms to a guy like me who's played way too many of these types of game, there's an immediate pessimistic feeling that so much of those 100 will be padding: for instance, a new element is introduced, with the next ten rooms simply iterating on that complication with increasingly difficult puzzles. Closure does a better job of constantly shaking things up and its assorted worlds allow it to play with more ideas and features as the game goes on. Like Obulis it's a well-crafted puzzle game that could feasibly hold your interest, but unlike Obulis it has the added benefit of a curious and creepy visual style to pull you in even further.

The verdict: Sure, I'll stick with it. I've stacked up a few puzzle games now thanks to this feature so I don't think I need to worry about finding new ways to sharpen the ol' synapses for a while.

Edited by MooseyMcMan

I told you it was a cool game! Glad you are enjoying it.

Also, nice use of the spray paint tool in MS Paint for the light there. I know I've used that before for making things like beards.

Posted by BisonHero

It sounds like it should've been Braid, where once you see the solution you shouldn't need that much dexterity to actually execute on your plan, but unfortunately the game didn't get quite enough playtesting to balance out how occasionally finicky some of the exact spacing and timing is?

Edited by Mento

@bisonhero: To be fair, regarding the light sources and where they terminate, it just takes a little while to get used to it. I lost a lot of keys by accidentally letting them outside the light aura and watching them tumble off into darkness. Annoying, but I'm sure after a few more hour I'd know to put them in more stable locations and have a better sense of how far the light extends.

Braid's masterstroke was its rewinding: you never had to worry about messing up a puzzle unless you did something wrong a while back and couldn't rewind that far. You also have games like Pushmo with a similar rewind feature which made those cases where you get 10 minutes into a puzzle and fuck up a jump far less irritating. Were Closure's stages a little longer, having to rely on so many accuracy-demanding steps without a safety net would be frustrating as heck. As it is, it's just a minor bugbear.