Posted: December 15, 2013
The fear of the dark is one of the most common phobias. But how many people really fear the dark, and not just the real or imagined threats it conceals? Certainly anyone who plays Closure, Eyebrow Interactive's wickedly creative indie game. In Closure's world, only what is visible exists-- step on a shadow and you'll fall right off the screen. To light a path through each level, the player must learn to use various arrangements of fixed, rotating, or portable light sources.
This is two-dimensional platforming like you've never seen before. Carry lamps to preserve the solid ground beneath you. Divide walls into stepping stones by lighting them in segments. Free trapped objects by temporarily eliminating obstructions from reality. Even across 72 levels, these inventive puzzles never fail to surprise.
Closure's spooky, greyscale style perfectly matches its central theme of light and shadow. Artist Jon Schubbe is responsible for the hallucinatory environments, which range from underground mines to deserted carnivals; Chris Rhyne provides the unearthly music and sound effects; and programmer Tyler Glaiel ties it all together. With no unnecessary parts, this game is an articulate, memorable experience.
The player takes control of three human characters throughout the game, each with their own backstory that is left open to interpretation. The player can also travel to the “hub world,” a land of doors occupied by an arachnid creature with horns and a hollow face, who gives access to the human protagonists. The difficulty ramps up smoothly when the levels are played in consecutive order, but if you get stuck in one world, you can use the hub world to jump to another.
Gamers exhausted by the frantic pace of many games will find relief in the methodical progression of Closure. No time limits or point scores here-- not even a Heads-Up Display. The game clearly wants you to share the unhurried pace of the protagonists as you explore their environments. Before proceeding through a level, it is sometimes necessary to study the paths taken by meandering globes of light, which I found to be a relaxing, almost meditative experience. If you're feeling impulsive, however, a fast respawn speed lets you experiment without punishment.
With Closure, Eyebrow Interactive proves that a game built around a single gameplay mechanic can offer not only an absorbing experience, but a re-playable one as well. To reach the game's many collectable items, players are often required to devise entirely new solutions to familiar puzzles. This results in a more sophisticated difficulty scale than traditional “easy” or “hard” modes, as players can choose their difficulty mid-level. That said, some of the later levels are mind-boggling. But a good challenge is healthy, and in a market saturated with mindless button-mashers, it is good to see a game that encourages thoughtfulness.
TL;DR -- Cool concept with a haunting aesthetic; smart puzzles that award creative solutions.