Less than 150 games needed to reach our MobyGoal of 1,500 documented arcade titles!

4 Elements (Windows)

...
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
...
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  piltdown_man (70795)
Written on  :  May 18, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars
write a review of this game
read more reviews by piltdown_man

Summary

Simple, enjoyable, short and fun.

The Good

This is quite a polished little game. I've played it through in just a few days and it has been an enjoyable but short experience. It took around 18 hours to get all the way through and that includes playing a couple of levels twice.

The story is about how people lived in a peaceful valley governed by the magic of the four elements but they got greedy and killed all the animals and chopped down all the trees thus disturbing the balance of nature, or something like that. There's a lot of talk about fairies and dragons and such but none of it is really relevant to the game.

The number four features prominently in this game. There is one great tome of magic. This is split into for books, one for each element. Each book is split into four sections and each section contains four tile puzzles. There are four power ups, four colours for the tiles, and four hidden objects to find.


The four books must be played in order and each follows the same format. First the book must be unlocked, then each of the four cards must be released / repaired/ freed (or something like that).

Before a book can be played it must be opened. This requires a key but to get the key you first have to solve a hidden object puzzle. This consists of finding the parts to complete four objects. These objects are then used with hot-spots on the screen, so for example if the first object completed was a scythe it could be used with some long grass. When the grass is cut a missing piece for another object may be revealed. When all the objects have been found and used you're rewarded with the key that opens the book. These puzzles were neatly handled, slickly done and surprisingly challenging. I enjoyed these puzzles, they were a pleasant diversion, but there's only one such puzzle per book.

The game then gets into the tile matching puzzles which are the main part of the game. These are timed so the faster they are completed the higher the score at the end. The objective of these puzzles is to enable the flow of magic elemental energy to flow from the start point through to the end. This is done by using the mouse to construct chains of tiles of the same colour. The longer the chain the more points are scored and the bigger the explosion at the end. Chains and explosions are important because they each clear away a layer of ground from the play area enabling the energy to flow. Completing chains also charges up the power ups.

The tile puzzles got larger as I played through the levels and on occasion I lost track of where I was supposed to be heading. Having said that its not possible to get stuck in these games, should there come a point where there are no more chains to be connected the fairy helper will appear and rearrange the tiles so that play can continue. The levels are well designed and I did have to think carefully as I played them. On occasion I ran out of time but when this happened I restarted the level and completed it comfortably within the time - the levels did not seem as challenging second time around which lads be to doubt the game's re-play value. Size apart the levels also got a bit 'samey' after a while with the only real innovations coming in the last few levels.

These tile puzzles require speed and a bit of planning to complete. I did find them challenging to start with , however once I got into the right mindset by playing a couple one after the other I'd say they were 'challenging yet comfortably so'.

When four tile matching puzzles have been completed the game requires the completion of four tile puzzles and a 'Spot the Difference' puzzle to complete the process of restoring balance and harmony to that card.

The game has good music although I played the second half of the game with my headphones off because I wanted to concentrate.

This is the kind of game you could play in a coffee break. The shortest tile puzzle took under five minutes to complete and the longest was just over thirteen minutes.

The Bad

At the start of the game I was assigned a fairy guide. She flew around the screen explaining everything to me even though the game is very intuitive. It got to the point where I'd click on something and she'd appear so I had to acknowledge her comment before I could click on something else. It was disruptive but, just as I was getting worked up to shout at the screen she asked if I wanted to turn her off. I did that and the problem was solved.

There's a 'Hint' button in the hidden object puzzles that should really be called a 'Solve' button. I used it once when I was struggling and the fairy appeared, waved her wand over the missing piece changing the contrast on that part of the picture so making the missing piece was easily visible.

At the end of each tile puzzle there's a view of the current page of book, its animated and shows the picture & writing being restored as progress is made. There's a big button marked 'Continue' on screen but it doesn't actually continue to the next level it goes back to the main menu where I had to press 'Start' to get to the next level. I know its only a few extra clicks but I found this annoying.

Now that I've finished the game it won't stay on my PC because I don't see the point in replaying it.
There is a high score table but it just shows the score for the whole game not for each level. So while I could replay the game and try to score higher I'd have to complete the whole game and that takes too long.
Also,as I said earlier, the levels seemed so much easier when I had to replay them and I think this would apply to the game as a whole.
I'll probably put it away for a couple of years until I've forgotten about it because it was fun while it lasted and, who knows, it might be fun again some day..

The Bottom Line

This is fun. Its challenging but not overly so, and its well presented and easy to play. There's just sixty-four tile matching levels, sixteen 'Spot the Difference' puzzles and four 'Hidden Object' type puzzles none of which should take too long to complete.
I think this is a game that is ideally suited to playing a puzzle or two in a coffee break.