Closure review: Go into the light

Light is a fundamental part of existence. It pulls forms out of the dark, giving them shape, distance and color. Without light, everything we know would perish, leaving behind a barren, invisible world. Closure takes the fundamental nature of light one step further: where there is no light, there is oblivion.

It's actually easier to describe than it is to experience. Shuffled into a world of near complete darkness, players assume the role of an inhuman thing, a vaguely spider-like creature with four legs, two arms and horns. Picking up a small, glowing orb -- the creature's only source of light -- it makes its way across the shadowed landscape. Before long, however, it becomes clear that this is more than just darkness. It is nonexistence.

The world only exists where light shines upon it. Should the creature wander more than a few feet from its ball of light, it will simply fall into the void. After learning the ropes of this strange place, the creature ventures into a series of doors, transmogrifying into other characters and solving dozens of light-based challenges.

This is where description becomes tricky. At its most basic level, manipulating light manipulates existence itself. For example, should a wall block your path, all you have to do is darken it and it will cease to be, allowing you to pass through the space it once occupied. Some doors can only be unlocked with keys, but keys don't generate any light, so you'll have to come up with a way to transport the key without letting it (or yourself) fall into blackness.

There are numerous devices to help you do this, ranging from crates and wheels to orb-powered machinery. Some orb receptacles will create more orbs across a level, while others may simply move an orb from one location to another. It sounds simple, but remember that your character must be in the light at all times or it will fall away. This essentially turns an orb into a bridge as it moves along a predetermined path to reveal solid ground. In some cases, an orb moving vertically essentially becomes an elevator, letting you ride the light as it travels up a wall. Again, it's tough to describe but quickly becomes a familiar (and frankly brilliant) mechanic.

Closure slowly introduces other mechanics, including moveable spotlights, switches, translucent surfaces and areas that forbid you from dropping items. Translucent surfaces are particularly interesting, allowing you to create a cloudy platform of light as it passes through a block of ice.

As great as the mechanics are, however, I felt like I'd seen them all about halfway through. To be fair, there were a few surprises late in the game, but at some point many levels felt like variations on a theme. Each level is certainly different from the last, but some left me with a feeling of déjà vu -- another light elevator, another crate-stacking challenge, etc. There are silver moths hidden in some levels, requiring you to solve puzzles in different ways or explore areas you might have overlooked. These little secrets really add some spice to Closure. You'll have to find all 30 moths to see the real ending, so I recommend you search them out when you hear the distinctive twinkling sound.

Beyond the occasional bout of déjà vu, my only quibble with Closure is that it's very easy to fail a puzzle. Thanks to the ephemeral nature of solid ground, it's simply a matter of moving light to the wrong place at the wrong time. I can't tell you how often I've jumped, only to watch a vital crate fall into the ether because I was holding the light that created the very ground it sat upon. That was my own fault -- a lesson that took some time to learn -- and restarting a level is as easy as pressing select, but some levels require a rather lengthy setup. Failing just as you're about to perform the last step can be crushing. An undo or rewind option would be nice, but suffice it to say you can save a few headaches by paying close attention at all times.

Closure offers up a unique puzzle experience set in a wonderfully moody environment caught somewhere between the designs of Dan Paladin and Edward Gorey. The curious properties of its light add a distinct twist to the traditional logic puzzle genre -- specifically by infusing it with a heavy dose of illogic. It loses a bit of steam in the middle, but dedicated puzzle fans will want to see it through to the end.

This review is based on review code of Closure for PlayStation 3, provided by Eyebrow Interactive. It's available now on PSN for $15.

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