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Review: 4 Elements

Table of Contents

Quick Info

Gore & Brutality Magic Sex Civility Religious Objections
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Additional Notes
This game offers Achievements (or similar awards)!

Summary of major issues
The majority of this game is based on restoring power to magical altars by reconnecting them to the source of their magical energy. This in turn restores the information and powers found in the book of that element.

Screenshots


Another page completed


Some levels require you to use your power ups


One of the hidden object levels

General Information

Genre:Match 3Age Rating:Everyone (Ages 3+)
License:CommercialQuality Rating:Good
Played on:Martha
Available from: Steam
Save System:You can quit at any time by hitting the on screen button to return to the game menu. All progress, including everything you've done in the current level, will be saved for later.

Game Overview

Although this game's story has a magical cataclysm causing an end of the world scenario, 4 Elements ends up being a bright and happy game about matching gems. Most of the gameplay is based around the classic Match 3 formula, though there are some changes that make it feel more unique.

The first major difference between this game and other Match 3s like Bejeweled is that you match gems by connecting them in long chains rather than by swapping two adjacent gems. The other difference is the goal of each level. Instead of earning a set number of points or clearing a given number of gems, your only goal is to direct a river of magical energy to an altar. If you don't connect the source of the magic with its altar in time, you'll lose the level and need to try again.

As you progress through the books, you'll also gain four different abilities you can use to alter the board. These powerups are charged by clearing gems of their specific color, and you're going to need to use them to complete game. Some of the later levels are designed so that the only possible answer is to use a specific ability in a certain spot, so plan your moves ahead.

Additionally, at specific intervals you'll deal with another type of level. These alternative levels are either hidden object scenes where you assemble four objects by locating and assembling their scattered pieces, or they are simple "spot the difference" levels where you're given two copies of the same picture and need to locate what isn't the same in both copies.

Overall, 4 Elements has held up pretty well, so it's still worth a try if you like casual games.

Pros

64 levels
In order to restore order to the land, you need to first restore the knowledge from four magical books. Each book represents one of the classical elements, and features a page talking about a humanoid, knight, dragon and a magical beast of some kind that relates to the book's element. This arrangement also works well for pacing, as you can plan your breaks around restoring one page at a time.


Hidden object & Spot the difference levels
All of the books start out locked. In order to open them, you need to solve a hidden object puzzle to fix their altar. Once the altar is restored, you'll be granted the key to unlock the next book. These puzzles can be fairly tricky, as you assemble four different tools from their component parts and then use the tools to expose more of the level.

The other type of level follows restoring the text to a creature's page. Now that you've read about the creature, you're presented with two versions of its picture. Find the differences to solve the puzzle and unlock its magic.


Steam achievements
There are a handful of achievements to earn, and some of them might require you to really work for them. For example, there's an achievement for clearing any of the hidden object scenes in under 90 seconds. According to Steam's leaderboards, only 7.5% of the people playing this game have managed to do that.


Multiple profiles
For families that have multiple children sharing the computer, little things like this can go a long way. Each profile stores a different player's progress in the story, so everyone can play it without stepping on anybody's toes.


Cons

"Spot the Pixel" issues
Sometimes finding the hidden objects or differences in the pictures don't really feel fair. The hidden object scenes show you what the final tool will look like, but not the fragments you need to find. Many of these are extremely well hidden, which can sometimes feel rather cheap.

The spot the difference levels have a similar problem: the differences you're supposed to find are often small and sometimes they are rather petty. For example, in one picture the difference is the appearance (or removal) of a window in a building in the distance. This change is small enough that your cursor can cover it. Much of the time, entire sections of the landscape are radically changed, so these tiny changes are easy to overlook.


Time limit can be frustrating on later levels
All of the Match 3 stages have a time limit. If you don't get the energy to the altar in time, you lose the level and have to try again. The main problem with this is that the gems you get are randomly chosen. Keeping up a good pace might be impossible if the game isn't giving you the gems you need. It doesn't help that many of the later levels give you enough time to reach the area of the puzzle with the altar, but not enough time to connect the energy to it.


Concerns and Issues

Magical creatures, and magic in general
This is basically what happens when you have a story set in a fairytale world. You have a wizard, fairies, mermaids, dwarves, elves, dragons and so on being referenced throughout the game. That said, the most questionable aspect of the game's magic is that everything revolves around rebuilding altars. Altars are usually used to worship things, though the altars here seem to function only as a focal point for the magic of their particular element.


References to "gods"
At one point, your fairy companion mentions that the "gods of the sea" are blessing your efforts. No such deities were ever mentioned before, nor will they be mentioned again. Chances are, this quote wasn't meant to be taken literally, but in a magical world anything is possible.


Some characters show a little skin
Magical creatures tend to wear very little, regardless of the story. As usual, the main offenders are the fairies and mermaids, though it's particularly noticeable with the fairy that accompanies you. While her upper body is covered by what looks to be a little dress, she only wears a small cloth and boots below the belt. There is no actual nudity, nor is there anything suggestive in this game, but parents may be a little uncomfortable when they notice that the fairy in the game you're playing is wearing less than Tinker Bell.