An attractive physics-based puzzler (pun intended).
While mankind cracked the mysteries of magnetism long ago, there continues to be something faintly magical about this invisible force. Stick a couple of magnets on a table in front of someone, and you can guarantee they’ll be playing with them in no time. It’s a fundamental instinct that Alawar Games smartly capitalises on in A Magnetic Adventure.
The game presents you with a series of elaborate contraptions that can only be interacted with through your magnetised mouse pointer. Click on a metallic object and you can drag it around the screen however you see fit.
Fundamental magnetic laws are introduced and smartly played with from a very early point in the game. For example, you may need to pull a lever on a contraption to open a door and release a key, but that lever will turn out to be made of wood. Before you can solve the puzzle of releasing the key, then, you may need to free a metallic bolt that can be used to push said wooden lever.
This subtle layering of puzzles is one of A Magnetic Adventure‘s strongest assets, providing both variety and challenge. It also makes you think laterally, using certain objects in different ways to the one they seem intended for (using a key to physically push a button, for example).
It has to be said that some of the game’s contraptions are a little too abstract for their own good, leaving the solution a little unclear thanks to insufficient sign-posting. You’ll invariably find a way through, but occasionally it’ll be thanks to trial and error rather than pure brain power.
Following an overly extended tutorial section, the true purpose and pattern of the game emerges. There’s a completely nonsensical plot involved that I don’t really care to repeat (mainly because I’ve forgotten it), suffice to say that you need to shift a bunch of “Totems” into their natural position. Essentially, these metallic balls are the key to completing each level and moving onto the next.
All five of the Totem-searching worlds begins with an introductory attempt to find a map. Once obtained, you can then tackle each Totem level in any order you wish, although as there’s no facility to preview the levels or even to determine what the difficulty level is, this seems like a rather dubious feature (outside of offering you a measure of respite if you get completely stuck).
Another mixed blessing is the variety of challenges on offer. While there’s a standard type of level in A Magnetic Adventure – the aforementioned convoluted contraptions with multiple tightly-wound and inter-related puzzles – the developer attempts to mix this formula up with regular diversions. While this is admirable, many of these variations are below the standard of the regular sections.
For example, one level introduces a torch to the level. You can only see what’s going on in the narrow light-beam it casts, so you have to drag the torch around the stage and align it accordingly. While this is a nice idea in theory, in practise it’s clunky and annoying. Trying position the large, unwieldy torch when you can’t actually see what’s behind or to the side of it is anything but fun.
Another example is a map level that has you dragging a metal detector around, trying to locate four keys hidden amidst a bunch of balls. Again, it’s a nice idea meant to vary the pace, but it’s a complete bore to play.
Despite the presence of a little too much padding, though, A Magnetic Adventure is a fine effort. When it sticks to the gently taxing physics-based puzzles it’s best at, the attraction is strong.