‘Magrunner: Dark Pulse’ Takes Puzzle-Solving to a New Level
By: Jeb Haught
PUBLISHER: Focus Home Entertainment
SYSTEM: Windows PC
PRICE: $19.99 Download
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)
I love the “Portal” series because it incorporates realistic physics-based puzzles into an interesting storyline. However, these puzzles lose their allure after they’re solved, and there is simply too much time between game releases. Fortunately, “Magrunner: Dark Pulse” not only has similar game play, but also adds a dark tone with surrealistic H.P. Lovecraft influence!
Players take on the role of Dax, who’s one of seven magrunners chosen to participate in a competition to enter a space-training program. During a televised training session, the powerful monster, Cthulhu, starts killing contestants, and Dax must use his skills to survive training rooms and eventually the endless reaches of the lost cosmos!
Magrunners can use their Magtech glove to polarize and manipulate objects using magnetic fields they create. This creates a wide variety of results that range from using similar magnetic fields to attract platforms to using opposite magnetic fields to repel blocks that they player stands on.
Performing both actions with accurate timing will throw players up in the air to reach higher platforms that are attracted or repelled by the player. It’s also possible to polarize multiple objects with the same field to create a more powerful opposing reaction with another object. Needless to say, figuring out the more difficult puzzles will test your knowledge of magneticity, but it’s very rewarding!
After thing go wrong, most of the story is conveyed through radio communications, but the levels become much more interesting. However, it would be nice to have higher-quality visuals and audio.
Simply adding physics-based puzzles to the Cthulhu mythology is enough to get me hooked, but the challenging game play in “Magrunner: Dark Pulse” keeps me coming back for more.
‘Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within’
DEVELOPER: Deck 13
PUBLISHER: Nordic Games
SYSTEM: Windows PC
PRICE: $29.99 Download
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.0 stars (out of 5)
Point-and-click games used to be limited to static screens and boring game play, but that has definitely changed in the last few years. Now they have become full-fledged adventures, and “Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within” takes this concept to the next level with Hollywood-style cinematics, an interesting story and plenty of humor!
Set several years after his last adventure, the story takes the incorrigible hero to Shanghai in search of an ancient treasure. While breaking out of prison, Jack meets the shamanic guardian of the treasure who tells him to locate the other half of a secret amulet. Not surprisingly, nothing goes according to plan, and Jack must travel the globe while making friends and thwarting enemies.
Like most adventure games, “Jack Keane 2” focuses on solving puzzles that mostly consist of using certain inventory items to activate environmental objects. For example, Jack must find a cannonball, ramrod, gunpowder, and fuse before he can fire a cannon. Some puzzles may seem difficult at first, but anyone who gets stumped can simply put every inventory item found on every environmental object they can interact with to solve the puzzle. In addition, there are also hints in the description of some items that make their use obvious.
It’s too bad that the game engine used for this title severely tarnishes the game play. Even on high-end systems the animations are blocky and sometimes they slow down and become stuttered. Even worse is the camera that frequently overlooks the areas where players are supposed to go, forcing them to explore every nook and cranny of every scene.
“Jack Keane 2: The Fire Within” has plenty of potential, but only gamers with the patience to endure technical flaws will see it to the end.
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)
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