4 Elements HD (PSN [Reviewed], iOS)
Developer: Boolat Games
Publisher: Boolat Games
Genre(s): Puzzle, Matching
Released: August 30, 2011
ESRB Rating: E – Everyone
4Elements HD is a matching game, but instead of swapping two adjoining pieces to try and put three of the same color together, 4 Elements HD requires you to look carefully and use the joysticks (or Move) to chain three or more same colored gems together. Each level as some type of liquid energy, and you’ll have to destroy the tiles by creating chains to create a path for the energy to flow to the alter at the end of each level.
That sounds easy enough, but if you’ve ever played a matching game before then you know that it can be easier said than done. 4 Elements HD has additional ways to challenge; gems frozen in ice that will need to be matched twice, gems sitting on top of multiple layers of tile crust that will have to be match a couple of times before the energy can flow, and stone walls and rocks to block paths. Factor in a time limit, and you have a puzzle game that will challenge you to be fast but require you to play smart. The end result of that is a lot fun, and the satisfaction of inevitably working your way across a huge level and reaching the end with seconds to spare.
The game does offer some stuff to help you advance the level. There are flaming arrows sprinkled around, and if the energy flows into the arrow it’ll launch the across a good ways clearing everything in its path including stone walls. In addition, there are power ups that you can use once you fill their respective meter (which is done my matching three or more of a color a certain amount of times). These include a shovel that will allow you to dig a tile up, a bomb that will explode several tiles, the ability to switch any two gems on the board, and finally the reset/panic/screwed ability which allows you to reshuffle the entire level. You’ll use all of these, and more often than not you’ll wish you could fill their meters more quickly so you can use them more and more. They are game savers, so use them wisely as it does take time to refill the meters.
4 Elements HD is certainly packed with levels to play through (or replay), 64 of them in fact and broken up into four areas visually to represent the elements. Many of these are huge maps and can take seven or eight minutes to complete (more or less depending on how lucky you get with gem placement), and some will require a restart or two. The game looks great, and plays great (at least with a controller, I don’t have a Move system), but ultimately suffers from repetitiveness. Unless you just really love matching games, this is not something you’re going to sit down to for hours on end and beat in a couple of days. Instead, you’ll play a few levels to break up something else, and then put it down for a little while. It is, however, a nice game to just sit back and relax while playing.
There’s a story to the game, but certainly not anything you’ll care about. The story is just a backdrop and nothing else. There’s also a castle that you can upgrade with the points you get at the end of each level, but this is nothing to care about either. Sure the castle looks great with its upgrades, but it’s really just a picture that you only see when in the menu. It has no effect on gameplay or anything.
Despite the fact that it, like all matching games, does get overly repetitive, I really enjoyed playing 4 Elements HD. I’m not at all a fan of matching games, but 4 Elements differentiates itself enough the chaining concept in place of swapping and the power ups and the end result a good and fun downloadable title. As I said earlier, it looks great and it’s relaxing. There are more than enough levels to keep you coming back to the game as you slowly work your way through completing it.
If you like matching games, then this is one you definitely want. If you’re like me and aren’t a big fan of the genre, there’s still plenty to enjoy about 4 Elements HD; it’s a nice relaxing break from bigger and more intense games, school, work, or whatever else. At $10 it’s also reasonably priced considering you are getting a lot of levels, trophies, and online leaderboards for those of you who care about such things. It’s cheap and it’s fun, so it’s an easy game to recommend for genre fans and non-fans alike (although genre fans should have already jumped all over it by now).
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.