Reviews

Lumbarjack – Closure to God

When I picked Closure up in a bundle, I was prepared to dismiss it. Play it for five minutes to say I played it, dump it and move on. I mean, it’s just another indie puzzle platformer, right? Yawn.

If speech was edible I would have been eating my words, because Closure is brilliant.

The world of Closure is one of black and white, or more specifically, void and white. The world ceases to exist outside of the patches of light that pierce the darkness. Traversing from one part of the level to the next will require shining light to literally build you a path. Alternatively, if you want to get through an impenetrable wall, just adjust the lighting until there’s a big enough hole for you to jump through.
The first time you ride a patch of light like an elevator through the scenery you’ll realise exactly what this puzzle mechanic can do to a level and to your mind.

It might sound clumsy when I try to explain it with these stupid, inedible words, but it’s the smartest core mechanic I’ve seen in a platformer since Braid blew us all away with its time-manipulation. The game opens up slowly, introducing new mechanics steadily enough to give you a chance to grasp each one, but quickly enough to keep it interesting.

A big part of the challenge lies in the fact that you can’t see a whole level when it opens. If you want to figure it out you need to grab a light-emitting orb and get the lay of the land, or you can just be a maverick and try to work out the level on the fly – a tactic that often works, with the added bonus of making you feel smart.

On the flipside though, there’s also frustration and plenty of headscratching. The headscratching is good, because what’s the point of a puzzle game that doesn’t punish the ol’ brain cells, but the frustration tends to come from an inflexibility on the game’s behalf, rather than the puzzles themselves. You might have figured a level out, you might know exactly what you need to do, but if you move a light source a little bit too far, or tap the wrong key, then you have to hit R and start again.

The game is split up into three areas, plus a hub world. In the hub you control a faceless quadruped, and as you enter a door within the hub this creature wears a mask that allows it to take on a different form. There’s the miner in the tech-strewn, sci-fi underground, the woman in the dark, Burton-esque hospital and finally a little girl in a creepy carnival.
Each of the three sections has 24 levels, with the first ten spent introducing you to the particular nuances of that world so the latter levels can punish your brain thoroughly.

Whether you get through all the levels on offer here will come down to two things: aptitude and patience to deal with the aforementioned frustrations. Thankfully though, if you do get stuck with a level, or simply annoyed, you can return to the hub world and venture into one of the other areas and come back later with a fresh perspective or renewed patience, whichever is needed.

Shine a light on Closure and see what you think – I daresay you’ll find something interesting, especially if you’re fond of puzzling and platforming simultaneously.

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