Closure has been floating around the internet for some time. What started out as a flash game on the popular site Newgrounds has since been built upon for release on the PlayStation Network, and more recently, on Steam. Created by the three person team at Eyebrow Interactive, Closure provides a unique, albeit flawed, venture into a dark puzzle-platformer. There are norms one can expect in a game like Closure. Blocks will be moved, buttons will be pushed, and obstacles will be avoided. But this time around, there’s a little twist. In Closure, light is everything, as parts of the 2D world only exist when illuminated.
Once a platform is covered in darkness, it disappears, and anything unlucky enough to be perched atop it will drop into the void below. For example, if there’s a wall you can’t jump over, simply move a nearby light, and jump through a darkened section. Various light sources are provided throughout Closure’s 80 plus levels, including orbs the player can carry, stationary light bulbs, and luminescent plants. Players control a four-legged little monster as he puts on various masks, changes shape, and explores different worlds. But no matter where he goes, the goal is always the same: find the hidden exit. The first thing to understand about Closure is that it can get frustrating. Admittedly, some of my problems stemmed from my own impatience, but not all of them. Clear-headed and deliberate actions are necessary to complete many of the puzzles, as one stray jump easily does away with the floor, sending objects falling into oblivion. But this manipulation of light and dark doesn’t always work perfectly. Even when a solution is found, a slight miscalculation of a beam of light can lead to failure. There’s a precision that is lacking in the platforming, which is partially due to the dynamic nature of the environment, but it still affects the feel of Closure. When players have to set up multiple platforms in a row, the jumping just isn’t accurate enough, and this can lead to death after death when a puzzle’s solution is already known. One can’t help but be spoiled by bigger budget puzzle games that painstakingly place each ledge exactly where it needs to be. Therefore, more so than in other genres, this fault is far more evident every time it occurs.
With all of this in mind, the game does have it’s impressive moments. New elements are added piecemeal during the early levels of each world in a very natural way. Initial puzzles often require the player to perform one or two extremely simple actions, all for the sake of showing off a new gameplay element. Closure never expects anything from the player it hasn’t already shown before. As the difficulty slowly ramps up, the later challenges can leave you feeling smart the way a great puzzle game is supposed to. But, as stated before, the rug is often pulled out from underneath this satisfaction.
The atmosphere is consistently haunting, but never crosses the line to be truly scary. While progressing through the different worlds, certain aspects can be creepy, but in a way more akin to Tim Burton’s famous style. Hand-drawn locales are littered with little accents and easter eggs meant to satisfy those willing to fully explore the levels. It’s almost a shame that most of Closure is spent in the darkness, but when you get the occasional brief exposure to an entire level, the reward is that much greater. The dark visuals mesh well with the stories told of three humans the protagonist transforms into. There isn’t much of a strict narrative, but each of the characters progresses along a simple arc, and clues in the environments hint at a possibly deeper story.
When a game is so visually restricted, the soundtrack is highlighted that much more. Closure’s music isn’t bad, but it is forgettable. The select few tracks included eventually fade into the background, leaving the player unaware of their presence. But, the way sound is integrated into the gameplay is impressive. Music will alter on the fly, becoming distorted when underwater, or building to a crescendo during certain levels. How the music was used is striking, the music itself not so much. It’s also worth noting that, as Closure is now a full-fledged PC release, both keyboard and gampad support are provided. I personally played through most of the PC version with an Xbox 360 controller, which the game recognized and mapped automatically with no heavy lifting on my part.
There is a good time to be had within Closure‘s dark world, especially considering the $9.99 price point on PC. Flaws in the core design keep it from being brilliant, but its ingenuity helps go a long way. There’s plenty of content to keep players busy for quite some time, with a few collectibles scattered along the way. Closure is just as unique as many of its contemporaries, it just lacks polish.
Closure was developed and published by Eyebrow Entertainment. A PC copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.