Early last year Rocky Hong published his flash game Magnetized across the web. In it, players use variants of magnet-like attraction to direct a tiny cube through maze-like puzzles. The game was popular enough to become subject to a plagiarizing case only a few months later, and today Hong’s official port of Magnetized to iOS and Android has become a welcome addition to the mobile puzzle family.
Right out of the gate, Magnetized is minimalist eye candy; clean, neon menus are complemented by a calm, chiming menu track. It’s an aesthetic carried throughout and works to keep the game accessible, as games such as Super Hexagon have before it. The lingering death counter is a nice touch, showing deaths in each section, each level, and a total counter that pops up with every touch during gameplay. Also appreciated is the “auto-rotate” setting that not only looks slick but also caters to the player’s style as they approach each level at a different angle. Along with its single-touch gameplay and manageable mechanics, Magnetized remains comfortable to play as things get tough.
For its first half, Magnetized can be a breeze. Each level is a maze with the objective of guiding a small black cube to the exit. Players do not directly control the cube– it moves straight forward on its own– but instead manipulate it using a combination of fixed-position magnet types. With a single touch, the nearest magnet will activate and begin its effect on the cube. Split into four sections (Cyan, Pink, Yellow, and Black) of 20 levels apiece, the coloured segments introduce new mechanics while the newly introduced Black levels consist of ultra-difficult test-your-skill puzzles. Cyan has players magnetizing the cube with a gravitational-type pull, requiring timing and skill to obtain perfect rotational angles. In the Pink levels magnets will directly attract the cube, and in Yellow magnetization will suspend and then teleport the cube to a mirrored position. It isn’t until these three mechanics come together that the game takes a turn for the better– at the cost of an enormous difficulty spike.
In the later half of the game, players will have to combine all their knowledge to solve complex puzzles which feel rewarding when they finally click. Like before, the cube will be effected by the nearest magnet, but levels begin to make use of multitudes of each magnet type in clever ways. Unlike the flash version, Magnetized on mobile has three cubes to collect on each level. Early on these cubes will be in the linear pathway of solving a puzzle, but later the cubes are in curious places that require reflex and a mastering of the three magnets to obtain. Collecting more cubes will unlock further levels, but progression never feels hindered by overly difficult challenges. In fact, despite the game’s later difficulty, it is not frustrating. The controls and game mechanics are easy to learn, and errors are almost entirely human. It’s just a shame that there’s not more variation.
Magnetized offers 80 levels, many of which players will blast through with little-to-no deaths. Occasionally however, players will rocket upwards of 100. In one case, I finished a level with five deaths, but the next one took nearly 60. Although each level has three cubes, once collected there’s not much reason to go back. Moreover, each level tracks total deaths instead of lowest record, so there are no personal bests to go back and conquer. Collecting all the cubes in the first 60 levels will unlock the secret Black section, so there’s at least some reward for the effort.
The lack of depth is made up for by polish; it’s clear that the twenty-one year-old Rocky Hong put thought and effort into the game. The art-style is an old-school look combined with a minimalist color scheme that looks flashy but never obnoxious. Each coloured section has a different chip-tune track that gets changed up enough not to become repetitive. There’s even a heart-warming narrative surprise in the game’s credits that’s so charming that the occasional English spelling mistakes (by the young Taiwanese developer) are forgiven.
Magnetized is a game with a lot of charm, and enough new and interesting ideas in it to keep players entertained. It warrants itself for release on mobile with fitting visuals, controls, and more content than found in the flash version. As for its $3 price-tag (competitive with many other indie puzzlers) it’s not a steal, but it will support a passionate developer and keep players busy as they tackle each level. Magnetized is sure to delight any puzzle game fan.
- Attractive, minimalist graphics
- Solid soundtrack
- Feels polished
- Limited variations in mechanics