XBLIG Review: Magnetic by Nature: Awakening

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Magnetic by Nature by Tripleslash Studios is a physics platformer with an overabundance of charm and a glimmering lack of compassion.

It has the makeup of platformer punishers, like Super Meat Boy and Spelunky, where you die, continuously. One really needs to be in the mood for this type of game, but somehow Magnetic by Nature gives off the right vibes for such a thorough beating. Magnetic by Nature is not easy, by any stretch of the word, but the game won’t take months of frustration to beat either. The game has its issues, but the entire presentation is worth the troubles.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o4Sx6ZZ-DU

 

In Magnetic by Nature, you control a robot trapped in a long abandoned underground society who attempts to find a way out. The robot has the capability to attract and repel magnets and needs to use those abilities to the fullest extent for any chance of escape. The attraction and repelling are controlled with the trigger buttons and the controls will occasionally require careful timing using the two to reach the end. Some of the most intriguing aspects of Magnetic by Nature deal with the magnetic physics. The magnets don’t actually operate like real world magnets, where positive and negative charges attract. However, the magnets are identified as either attraction or repelling magnets and you need to use the corresponding button to find success.

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The levels consist almost entirely of weaving among magnets. The design asks you to use the magnets’ gravity to slingshot you from point to point. You will need to maintain momentum to make certain jumps, and if you lose that momentum on some occasions, you will likely not progress that try.  The physics engine manages to feel more organic and fluid than other similar physics games. The movement and progression take a while to understand, and perhaps can never truly be mastered. Even once you reach some of the tougher levels, you feel a sense of luck after beating a level more so than accomplishment. However, some enjoyment is found while working through the puzzles and toying with the different approaches to find the solution to complete the game.

I died a lot playing Magnetic by Nature.

I died a lot playing Magnetic by Nature.

The art style is not completely unique, but still presents an interesting hybrid of early 20th century propaganda posters and the zoomed-out silhouetted platformer Limbo. The nameless adventurer is largely reminiscent of the persistent and fearless boy from Limbo, and Magnetic by Nature clearly has a soft spot for the indie Playdead game. While Magnetic draws some inspiration from the title, it is its own game with a clever premise.

One component that is especially appreciated is the checkpoints. While, you may wish the game had a few more sprinkled in here or there, the fact of the matter is, the game could be infinitely more difficult through the absence of such checkpoints. These are a welcome inclusion and should not be taken for granted.

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The biggest issue with Magnetic by Nature is not the fact the character sometimes gets stuck while attracting magnets mid-jump, nor the possibly problematic instance the character jumps upon resuming a paused game nor the utter frustration one feels dying for the fiftieth time in a particular level. No, the biggest issue with the game is the lack of rhythm in levels. Most games have a set of timing one needs to make jumps or complete puzzles. Magnetic by Nature establishes one set of timing and within a few seconds tosses out the books and creates a new timing rhythm. For instance, in the third chapter of the game, you need to move quickly to match the necessary timing for one series of jumps followed by a quick transition and then another set of jumps that while needing to be done quickly, need deliberate movements and coordination. This causes many of the missteps people will encounter in latter levels. Once a pace is set, not for a game, but in each level or puzzle, it should be maintained. If not, the end-product is somewhat jarring, similar to a movie with mismatched audio.

Magnetic by Nature is a game with problems but provides a game with puzzles that are presented on a beautifully crafted canvas. While frustrating at times, the controls work and provide an experience that is not over used nor rehashed. Magnetic by Nature has plenty to offer, even if the TripleSlash Studios says it is just a fraction of the upcoming full PC release.

Final Rating: 8/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On
: XBLIG
Time to completion: 2-3 hours
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: A code was provided by TripleSlash Studios
Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)
Why you should buy it: An promising physics platformer with punisher aspects that provides a magnetic twist.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: It is a punisher-esq game, so, you will die, a lot.

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About Steve Lesniewski

Steve lives in Chicago and recently graduated from the University of Illinois. He has been fascinated with video games since his ninth birthday when he received a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Blue. He loves following sports and cheers win or lose for the Bears, Bulls and the Fighting Illini, who include the 2012 men’s gymnastic national champs as well as the 2011 women’s volleyball national runner-up.