Closure has been around for awhile and gotten some pretty prestigious awards, but compared to other games of its caliber there has not been that much talk about it. One reason would be the availability – so far there is only the version hidden away on PSN, and only in the US. There is also the matter of Closure being a much more subtle game than other puzzle-platform games, there is a distinct art style and hints of a narrative but the game is very clearly about solving discrete puzzles and everything else is designed to be unobtrusive.

Not in a bad way – the art and music fit the themes and gameplay very well even if they are simple, and the lack of secondary design elements keeps the game focused. For the casual eye it would be easy to dismiss Closure as “just another puzzle-platformer” though.

As a side note, I really dislike it when people – journalists and industry people in particular – refer to games this way. When a genre reaches a certain mass it  breeds a familiarity which gives us the opportunity to challenge conventions and use genre tropes for communication in ways that are obvious enough that people will not mistake it for poor design. An idea does not stop being original merely because it is based on platform or first-person gameplay. What annoys me the most about it is that the games that somehow avoid “puzzle-platformer” scorn are often the ones that stand out because of art, audio or narrative and not the ones that are doing anything functionally new – if that is not what makes a game unique, why bother talking about them? But back to Closure.

Closure offers an impressive array of puzzles ranging from simple to complex without adding too many new elements, every new gameplay element is combined with existing ones to form new challenges. It does not repeat many puzzles, but some take a lot of time and precision to solve – as you are often no more than a jump or misstep away from losing a vital item replaying levels can get repetitive. In fact, the biggest problem I had with Closure was that it was so imprecise, it was hard to judge if the game challenged my lateral thinking skills or just wanted me to do pixel-perfect light placement and jumping.

It is a game of stark contrasts, of light and oblivion. It says something of the skills of the team that every single level is designed around this theme without it getting boring – it would be hard to find anything just like it. If that is not the kind of innovation we should be looking for I don’t know what is.

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Posted on Jun 29/12 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »