When a game is in the process of being created, the developers will always take into account what is on the screen at any given time. A visually stunning and practical game will consider aspects like visual quality, lighting, ambience, effective HUDs etc. Closure, on the other hand, doesn’t just take these aspects into account. It also considers what is not on the screen.
Developed by Tyler Glaiel and Jon Schubbe under Eyebrow Interactive, Closure is a puzzle/platformer that was released on Steam earlier this month. The game was originally released as a flash game on Newgrounds.com three years ago under the same name. While the game play is essentially the same with the flash version, the Steam version saw smoother visuals, a soundtrack, more levels and a better control scheme.
The game is set in a monochromatic inky world where objects only exist in the light. To get through each level you must use glowing balls of light to illuminate your path to the door that will lead to the next stage. Carrying a glowing ball will illuminate your path but if you drop it and move on in darkness you fall into a void. Paths can also be illuminated by lamps that are fixed points in each stage. Obstructions can be overcome by dropping a glowing ball far enough to darken the obstruction but near enough for you to be able to jump across. Sometimes there are pedestals where you can insert glowing balls that make them move across the level creating a sort of light elevator that can take you through walls.
The game play is quite easy to get a firm grasp on but clever level designs make the puzzles rather complicated. You are essentially controlling the level more than you are controlling your character. Of course, this is not to say that there isn’t a bit of platforming. In order to get through each stage you must consider careful placement of light sources to make sure that even after you have successfully set a working lit path, you can still go through the stage without falling into the void. Even after playing the 30th or so stage, I’d still sometimes carelessly tilt a spotlight causing the floor underneath me to disappear. The game, however, gives you infinite chances to restart the level. However, the physics can be inconsistent with each restart of a level. A block of light that is supposed to land on a platform at the beginning will sometimes bounce and fall into the void causing you to restart the level until it gets it right.
As someone who has mild kenophobia (the fear of large empty spaces), this game made me feel uneasy but intrigued at the same time. It reminded me somewhat of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who: creatures that only exist when being observed. In this game, the world is a Weeping Angel and you must carefully observe it or it will swallow you whole.
The puzzles get harder and harder with each level you progress. Other types of light sources are also introduced like flowers that darken when in close proximity or plants that need light to be shined on in order to unlock the next door. Stages are quite short but require some accurate light placement and trial and error to get through. The platforming can be frustrating especially if you happen to be playing with a keyboard. After successfully setting up a level, one untimely jump into the void will cause the level to restart.
Closure is Xbox controller compatible but the game does not translate its control instructions. The game will still instruct you in keyboard keys even though your controller is plugged in and working. Even though it takes less than a minute to figure the controls out, I still found it quite annoying that they didn’t properly translate it.
There doesn’t seem to be any plot. However, there seems to be an underlying story of an arachnoid monster taking the role of or reliving other people’s experiences by wearing masks that look like them, at least that’s what it seems like. Sometimes the game takes a supposed advanced level and makes it severely uncomplicated to add a dramatic effect. Since there is no proper story arc, these dramatized instances, though few, drags the game on unnecessarily.
As a game that heavily relies on light contrast, the visuals are quite striking. Each of the major levels has a different theme but all three have that inky, forlorn, Tim Burton-esque feel to them. From going through factories filled with cogs and scrap metal to a damp forest full of warped trees to a twisted circus decked out with stalking black cats, malformed creatures and sinister clowns.
The soundtrack bothered me a lot in this game. There are initially three major stages that have 24 levels within them. Each of the three major stages had an individual soundtrack that played in a loop. The only time the music would change was when you would go underwater and then it would sort of just warp and slow down a little bit. The music itself isn’t so bad but after listening to the same track after 24 levels, it gets really stale and irritating.
Closure is an interesting puzzle game that provides a few hours of fun and an uneasy intrigue for kenophobics like me.