Magrunner: Dark Pulse – Review
Follow Genre: First Person Puzzle
Developer: Frogwares
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC, 360, PS3

Magrunner: Dark Pulse – Review

Site Score
7.6
Good: Challenging and solid gameplay
Bad: Story and characters, why is there no sprint button?
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0
(0 votes)
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Good news for those who never stopped thinking with portals. Indie developer Frogwares has just released Magrunner, a First Person Puzzle game as popularized by the Portal series. Can magnetism be as fun to play around with as teleportation?

Magrunner Logo

Story

The game is set in 2050, in a world where Facebook LifeNET has become the sole medium for information and communication. Public services as we know them no longer exist. LifeNET’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg Kram Gruckezber (I wish I was making this up) has also been active in other ventures. One of which is the development of a clean source of energy called Mag technology.

Gruckezber has been using the technology to facilitate travelling to space and has set up a deep space exploration program. This creates an opportunity for young people to become trained astronauts. The protagonist, Dax Ward, is a gifted orphan admitted to the brutally difficult Magtech training program.

Everything that happens in the training facility is streamed live to LifeNET and an annoying reporter is present on the scene. In the beginning of the game, there a some superfluous sequences of her interviewing Dax and asking him some mundane questions.

Magrunner Gamaji

Dax has a mentor, the mutant genius Gamaji. He’s the guy who raised Dax after his parent joined a cult or something. The cool thing about him though, is that he has two extra sets of arms. He’ll contact you frequently during gameplay and help you out by hacking things between levels.

After completing a few test chambers, things go horribly wrong as the facility is attacked by fish monsters. After this, the game gets legitimately creepy at times. I won’t spoil the entire thing, but let’s just say Cthulhu is involved.

In summary we can say that the execution of the story is poor. The entire thing comes over as highly unbelievable and the characters are bland and annoying. For example: Gamaji starts talking out of the blue about Dax’ parents when you’re in the middle of a puzzle. Was there never any better opportunity? Everything feels very much forced.

Magrunner level

Graphics

Like most current indie games with a reasonable budget that target multiple platforms, the game makes use of the Unreal 3 engine. This ensures some good and clean graphics but never exceeding anybody’s expectations. Animations are choppy however, to the point where it gets annoying.

Sound

Not much can be said about the sound. The voice acting is believable and mostly well done. The music is barely present and forgettable. I do wonder how the fish monsters can grunt like they do however. Fish don’t have lungs or vocal cords last time I checked.

Gameplay

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Magrunner is a Portal clone with slightly different mechanics. Even the magnetic glove is reminiscent of the Portal Gun. Instead of creating portals on the walls, your glove can give certain objects a magnetic charge which then repel or attract each other. In order not to lose track of the magnetic fields you’ve created, you can activate a special view that shows what kind of influence the magnetized objects have on each other. Like Portal, progression is made by reaching the exit of every stage by completing the puzzle that separates you from said exit.

Magrunner level2

Unlike real life however, positive and negative objects don’t attract each other. To make life simpler for the player, objects with the same polarity attract each other and objects with different polarity are repelled.

Halfway through the game, you are aided by a magnetic dog that can cling to most surfaces and can assume a polarity of your choice. The dog makes the subsequent puzzles too easy, but the level design quickly adapts accordingly and we are presented with more difficult puzzles soon enough.

The overall level of difficulty of the game is pretty well done. Some of the 40 levels are easy and some levels are very hard. The game never gets too difficult, but manages to never get patronizingly easy either.

Magrunner Dog

Conclusion


Even though the game is marred by a ridiculous story and bland characters, the core gameplay is still solid. The 40 levels are enough to keep you busy for around 8 to 10 hours, assuming you aren’t a genius or cheat by looking up the solution on Youtube. If you like Portal, you’ll more than likely enjoy this as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDtjOV4hFWk
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1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Contest: Magrunner: Dark Pulse
    August 5, 2013, 8:41 pm

    […] If you require more information about the game, our review can be found here. […]

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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