It might be easy to say all it takes to make a good game is a good idea. Magnetic by Nature: Awakening by Tripleslash Studios is a magnetism-based momentum platformer available through Xbox Live Indie Games, wherein you dodge saw blades, glide from magnetic conduit to another, reinforcing that it takes more than just an idea. This simple puzzle platformer clocks in at about an hour and a half, and while some moments are clever enough to surprise you, it is mostly a frustrating, unpolished game with slippery controls, bland level design, and a frustrating difficulty spike.
Throughout the entire game, you mainly use the L and R triggers. R will emit an orange glow, repelling you from all orange magnets in the world, and L will attract you to all blue magnets. Using these, you go from one end of the stage to the other using momentum, and quick timing. Eventually you run into constantly changing magnets, allowing you to both attract to and repel from them. Often, these magnets will be mobile, thus creating puzzles in which you bring them to certain destinations that unlock doors allowing you to progress. Saw blades become more prevalent, but other than that it doesn’t become much more clever, which is disappointing since there’s so much potential inside this creative idea. Most of the time, the visual cues indicating which trigger you should hold to change the magnetism pass by you so fast, it’s impossible to predict it without dying first, thus becoming more of a trial and error process. It quickly becomes more muscle memory than puzzle based.
Seeing as the focal point of this game is essentially platforming, it’s sad how poorly it’s done. The sprint mechanic is introduced in the tutorial, and there you have to jump a fairly large gap, but that’s literally the only time sprinting is necessary to complete a level. Most of the game won’t even involve walking, as the magnets are basically the only form of transportation you’ll need. Maybe for the better, since the platforming is, as I stated, quite slippery. Just the slightest nudge of the control stick will send your character walking swiftly in the direction, yet while mid jump, it’s difficult to move at all. This recipe of controls creates quite the awful mix, and trying to make some of the more demanding gaps later in the game is simply infuriating. It’s one thing when the controls are tight enough that you have only yourself to blame, but when the game is at fault, it becomes old quick.
The first two worlds are a walk in the park, featuring the same basic sections, mostly including squeezing through tight corridors, dodging saw blades, and lunging yourself atop high obstacles. The third world is no different, using the same basic sections, only there are more saw blades, tighter corridors, and higher obstacles. It doesn’t make the game anymore fun, and the challenge present is hindered from being fun due to the poor platforming. Not to mention the inconsistency of the magnetism controls make certain sections involving moving the magnets incredibly egregious. In these last worlds also exists a horrible drop in framerate, making some sections absolute torture to get through. It’s worth noting that some puzzles are quite interesting, and utilize the magnetism mechanic quite well.
The world is adorned in three different color schemes with silhouettes of futuristic metropolitan cities. The game isn’t exactly eye-candy, but it doesn’t look terrible. Most of the sounds are very harsh, most notably the sound the protagonist makes when he dies, who is just kind of robot-looking little guy with a single eye. There’s a “Gender” option in the menu, but it doesn’t seem to affect anything visually. It’s questionable why it was included, but hey, maybe that’s the point. The looping backtrack is pretty cool for a short stint, but hearing it loop constantly throughout the world becomes very annoying. It’s a shame more care didn’t go into sprucing the environments up a bit, but it would not have saved the gameplay.
Magnetic by Nature: Awakening is quite an interesting idea, yet just shy of successful. It’s fun for a little while, but when you realize all you’re really doing is holding a trigger and a direction on your stick, relying on either luck or a quicker-than-possible reaction time. I just think a well designed game will make you feel in control. They are currently holding a Kickstarter campaign for an enhanced version for PC, Mac, and Linux, but for now, your dollar may be spent better elsewhere.
[+Clever idea][-Very inconsistent physics][-Drastic framerate drop towards the end][-Bland environments][-Lacks variation]