“But it is a pipe.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. It’s a drawing of a pipe. Get it? All representations of a thing are inherently abstract. It’s very clever.” – John Green
Magnus Imago is a visually unique, abstract point-and-click puzzle game with elements of exploration and adventure. It takes the player on an atmospheric journey through a mysterious world full of strange scenes and ambiguous events. It is a sequel to the 2021 release Magnus Failure, but it is not necessary to play the first game in order to understand the second.
Developer: Sons of Welder
Released: 2nd February 2022
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Available on: Steam
Magnus Imago uses point-and-click mechanics to steer the player through a series of puzzles, mostly inventory based. However, there is a selection of more logic focused and environmental puzzles to provide some variety. These provide a nice level of challenge and require the player to think and recall previous scenes and objects without getting frustrating or requiring a lot of back and forth between scenes.
There are two available modes for Magnus Imago, normal and easy, in normal mode, the cursor does not change to indicate when an object is interactable. Given the relative uniformity of the visuals and the obscurity and seeming randomness of a few of the required items playing in normal would pose much more of a challenge and it could be argued that it would be more appropriate as a difficult mode.
Narrative and Styling
Magnum Imago has an intentionally vague narrative, there is no explicit story and progression throughout the experience is quite abstract. This is entirely fitting for the style and intention of the game and it leaves a lot of scope for each player to interpret the game in their own way.
The game begins with eerie echo-like sounds playing, ethereal throbs and hums that continue to populate the game’s audio environment as it progresses, creating a real sense of atmosphere in the slightly surreal settings. A few well-implemented sound effects also help to bring the environment to life.
The imagery and scenery in Magnum Imago range from phantasmagorical to macabre to surprisingly charming and it is depicted in a uniquely sketchy black and white art style that is a stand out feature of the game overall. The pops of colour, mostly as part of the UI, add an extra layer to the aesthetic and emphasise the overall moodiness of the aesthetic. There is some deviation from the main art style in the form of video interludes consisting mainly of 3D models and real-life video recordings. These are triggered by finding scraps of paper and are simultaneously trippy, mesmerising and somewhat relaxing to watch.
Magnus Imago is a short game that will require one to two hours of playtime depending on the mode selected. Its blend of abstract aesthetic elements and ambiguous narrative work well together and despite a somewhat abrupt ending the game provides a very satisfying experience overall.
Fancy playing some more slightly surreal games in black and white? How about these:
Stilstand: An Insightful Portrayal of Loneliness – The Bridge – A Surreal Escher-Inspired Puzzle Game – Bee Gaming for Free with BirdGut