Review: Closure

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There are a couple ways to interpret Closure’s title, but my personal favorite comes from the world of comics. In comic books, “closure” is what happens when the reader imagines the unseen events and actions that occur between panels, or “observing the parts but perceiving the whole” as Scott McCloud puts it. This is precisely what you have to do to master the puzzles offered here, less to locate hidden features of the levels and more to keep them hidden. It’s a clever, complex concept that the game does a fine job of easing you into, and is only hurt by the age and controls the game is saddled with.

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In a realm of pervasive, all-consuming darkness, you play a strange, spidery demon. From a place of many doors you may enter the memories of three humans, including a miner, a woman, and a girl. Their memories are wreathed in the same darkness, though, which requires a little light to locate the exits with. The thing about light is that it makes real what is illuminated, while anything that disappears into shadow is well and truly gone. In this way you must make careful use of light sources to reveal only the parts of the level you need to escape, and as you can imagine, that can get rather complicated rather fast.

It can, but it doesn’t. One of the big points in Closure’s favor is that it seems to understand that it’s built around a very clever concept that’s a little tricky for folks to wrap their head around. Part of that is the concept of closure that I mentioned at the start… once you see something in the darkness, you can’t help but assume it’s still there even when it fades. But in this realm, the only things that are real are the things you can see. So you can have a level that’s just one long bridge from one side to the other, but if any part of it vanishes in darkness, that becomes a pit you must avoid. Similarly, if there’s a wall between you and the exit, taking the light off it means you can pass right on through to freedom.

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Closure is careful to ramp up these challenges gradually, starting with basic platforming and simple light placements before layering such concepts on top of themselves. Your character can jump and carry one object at a time, such as a key or a glowing orb, and can also adjust mounted lights if they’re within reach. Later levels start to introduce more interesting concepts, like surfaces that never fade once exposed to light, and using moving lights through solid surfaces as moving platforms. By the end of the two dozen or so levels that comprise each character’s story, you’ll probably run across a few you’ll have to stare at for a few minutes. Overall it’s not nearly as challenging as some puzzle platformers get, but you can still expect a good brain workout.

The parts that gave me pause had to do with the controls more than anything. Closure is stuck with that particularly floaty type of indie platformer physics, the kind where you can slide off the edges of platforms and gently wedge yourself into odd places if you’re not sure you can go that way or not. It becomes a problem with the puzzles that require careful placement of lights to make certain platforms appear and walls disappear, because you may find yourself hitching and sliding on the strangest little corners. It’s far from a dealbreaker, mind you, but I’m sure there are folks out there far more sensitive to these rather cheap-feeling controls than I.

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It’s been more than a few years since Closure first released, and in the interim there have been loads upon loads of puzzle platformers to crowd its place on the proverbial shelf. This is still a unique game though, not just for its light mechanics but also for the hazy, monochromatic presentation that does just enough to unsettle at times, and the weirdly energetic soundtrack. Despite the explosion of the genre there is still plenty of room for Closure, especially with its gentle difficulty curve and simple (if floaty) controls. For something a little different and a lot darker, you can’t go wrong.

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