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Magrunner: Dark Pulse Review


The Portal games where nothing but ground-breaking when they came out, changing the way we perceived first person titles and offering genuinely mind bending puzzles, but unlike first-person shooters, it did not spawn many wannabes other than the creators own forays into the first person puzzle genre. Finally we have a newcomer to the genre and whilst it is easy to pass off as a Portal clone, it turns out to have plenty of merits of its own.

Magrunner: Dark Pulse sets the scene with the intro explaining that in the near future the Gruckezber Corporation has created a renewable and clean energy based on the power of magnetic pulses. Set to revolutionise the world, the creators of the Magtech technology invites some of the world’s most talented individuals to take part in a test at the Gruckezber Magtech Space Exploration Training Facility; the results of which will have them becoming the first people to venture deep space and start a bold new future for the human race.

Your character Dax Ward has been put on the list by slightly more sinister reasons, his parents dead and brought up by a multi-limbed mutant, he is a bright and extremely clever student, showing great ingenuity when it comes to producing new technology created from Magtech, but is also looked down upon by the creators of the space exploration tests. The plan is a simple one, Dax needs to prove himself in a series of puzzle based test rooms, proving he can solve the problems at hand using the Magtech Glove and in turn become an invaluable member of the team.

The initial few tests are all about getting familiar with the Magtech Glove, changing the properties of specific items with positive and negative charges , resulting in items either being drawn to one another, or violently opposing each other. The Magtech Glove is really simple to use, you point the cursor and then either shoot a red pulse or a green pulse and it is here that that Portal springs to mind, with the tasks set in quite clinical environments, using the magnetic forces to create lifts, smash glass and push and pull items to cross seemingly impassable gaps or reach otherwise too high ledges.

As you progress you are being watched not only by the big wigs at the Gruckezber but also interviewed by the press relations team who are beaming directly to the rest of the world who are watching your progress with baited breath; you are also in contact with your adopted father Gamaji, acting as a narrator and guide and filling in the gaps of certain story elements. All seems on the level for Dax and the tests and then the game takes a total break from the expected and literally all hell breaks loose. First strange tremors and power cuts occur that effect the puzzle rooms, then you find strange writings scrawled on the walls, with the rooms starting to fall apart and then the curtain falls, with you travelling behind the scenes of these puzzles and the realisation that something terrible lurks behind your every step with the introduction of the Cthulhu. Straight from the pages of H.P. Lovecraft’s books, the Old Ones begin to tear your world apart, summoned by corrupt souls and taking you to a parallel universe. Dax then not only has to deal with escaping this maze of death and destruction but also find out what on earth is really going on.

The dark and scary world of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu adds a fearsome element to the game, with monsters then threatening you in some of the later levels, some even requiring ultra-fast reflexes to escape death at the hand of the Cthulhu, the game games visuals quickly breaking away from the bright and promising but clinical world of the Magtech tests, adding a dark and otherworldly fear to the proceeding levels.

Throughout the game you will constantly be referring this to the Portal games and that is no bad thing as it easily stands up to the classic Valve titles and tries something a little different story wise. Even with the alarming amount of times the game pauses to load (in-between each room) there is really little to get tired with on this game, the only concern is the at times the puzzles are very difficult to solve, or more to the point, difficult in finding all of the well hidden requirements to proceed.

If you enjoyed Portal (who didn’t?) then this is well worth your time, offering a decent ten or so hours of gameplay, obviously depending on how quickly you solve the puzzles.

Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PC)

Pros

+ A fun and thrilling story.
+ Great mind-numbing puzzles involving positive and negative magnetic charges.

Cons

- No options to tinker with the graphics.
- Has some really tricky puzzles.

Edited On 04 Jul, 2013

Comments
( 3 )
troublemaker's avatar
troublemaker 3 years ago
Cool review Ash, cheers. One question though. Instead of comparing it to portal, how does it fair against more recent titles? Like,say, Quantum Conundrum. A game I loved, but clearly was trying too hard.
Johnny B's avatar
Johnny B 3 years ago
The environments and the weapon in the pic look a lot like it was taken from unreal tournament minus floating cubes lol
Ash Buchanan's avatar
Ash Buchanan 3 years ago
QC felt a little too busy with all of the physics and such, having only gravity and the Magtech to consider makes this game feels more managable.

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