4 Elements


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4 Elements

MarcusOnce upon a time there was an ancient kingdom where its people lived in peace and harmony. The various magical creatures that inhabited the land kept the evil at bay along with the power of the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. But one fateful day, an evil blight came across the land and destroyed the four temples of the elements. As their protective power was taken from the land, it slowly turned from a green and verdant paradise to a cold and lifeless land full of ice and snow. It's up to you to unlock the power of the four books of elemental magic and restore power to the 4 Elements.

4elements.jpgGameplay in 4 Elements starts off as you attempt to find the key to unlock your first book. This is accomplished in a hidden object game where you must find the parts of four different objects. Each of these objects will in turn interact with something in the scene. There is a definite sequence to the events, as you will only be able to complete one of the objects. You must then use it to interact with something in the scene, which will then reveal the last part of another object. You continue until you've completed the fourth object, which will then interact with the scene to reveal the key to the book.

Your fairy guide will use the key to unlock the magic book and reveal the first entry inside. On the left page will be a rather blank-looking picture, and on the right will be a bunch of garbled text. The core of the game is played with the purpose of completing the picture and unscrambling the text.

The bulk of the gameplay is a match-3 variant made popular by the game Cradle of Rome. Starting at one end of a chain of matching runes, drag the mouse to connect them together and release to make them disappear. The goal here is not to clear the board, as it usually is in games of this sort. Your goal is to create a path for magical energy to flow from the starting location to the elemental altar at the end of the level. Clearing chains will clear the tiles below, allowing the energy to flow through. If you start a chain of five or more runes, the end of the chain will result in an explosion that will take out a number of tiles around the final tile. The longer the chain, the larger the explosion. Particularly long chains can create devastating blasts that will take out 20 or more tiles at once.

Of course, it's never quite as simple as that. You will have to guide the energy through the twists and turns of the maze-like game boards. You will run up against frozen pieces that have to be matched to thaw them out, boulders that cannot be matched, and iron blocks that cannot be moved. Luckily there are four different power-ups that can be charged by matching runes of a particular color. The first is a spade that will destroy a single tile. Very useful when you just can't seem to match that one last rune. The second is a bomb that will destroy the runes in the area of the blast. The bomb will also destroy frozen pieces and boulders, but will not destroy iron blocks or the tiles below the runes. The swap power-up allows you to swap two adjacent runes, allowing you to potentially make larger chains. You cannot use the swap power-up to swap boulders, iron blocks, or frozen runes. The final power-up allows you to shuffle every rune on the screen, giving you the chance to create more matches from a field of runes that may have grown stale. You'll also have to keep an eye out for flaming arrow launchers and other machinations that can be used to create massive chain reactions.

4elements2.jpgOnce you complete four rounds, thereby unscrambling the text and completing the picture, you are entered into another hidden object variant where you need to find the differences between two versions of the picture that you just completed. Once you locate the four differences, the section is complete, and you are on to the next entry in the book. Complete all four entries in the book and you will go on to the next element.

Analysis: This is by and far one of the best match-3 games I have played in quite some time. The gameplay is truly unique in that you are not simply trying to clear the board, trying to make a number of matches, or collect a number of particular pieces. The idea of creating paths through the game board for a flow of energy is something that I haven't come across before, and it really helps 4 Elements stand out from the crowd. The game boards are generally larger than a single screen and in later levels can become absolutely massive, making it progressively harder to complete the board before your timer runs out. The use of the flaming arrow devices turn many of the boards into puzzles where the key is flowing the energy to the next device, and not necessarily directly to the end of the board. This, too, gives the game a feeling of being much more than a simple match-3 game.

The hidden object sections of the game are well done and could easily stand on their own as a smaller game. Finding the parts of the objects in the opening sections can be quite difficult, since often the parts are small and oddly shaped. You also are never completely sure what you are looking for, so you end up searching for something that looks out of place, or that vaguely resembles a section of one of the objects you are completing. You can use a hint to locate particularly sneaky bits, but there doesn't seem to be any sort of penalty for random clicking on the screen, so sometimes the best bet is to click on anything anywhere. Locating the difference in the two pictures is a bit easier since you are only looking for four things, but I did run into a couple of differences that were pretty subtle.

The graphics in 4 Elements are quite well done. The play fields are colorful and vibrant, and the effects animation for things like explosions are spectacular. The hidden object scenes are well illustrated and hide objects well. I never got the feeling that I was pixel-hunting, but some of the items are quite difficult to locate. The fantasy theme is well executed, with nicely drawn fantasy creatures and landscapes. The sound is also quite impressive, especially the music, consisting of instrumental tracks that definitely evoke the fantasy scene that is unfolding in front of you. I never felt the need to turn the music down or off, and felt it all worked quite well, especially the opening theme and the background music during the game.

In a crowded genre, 4 Elements has the qualities to stand out from the crowd and make it not only worth your time to download, but worth your hard earned gold coins to purchase. Take up the challenge and restore the power of the four elements to an ancient land. You won't regret it.

WindowsWindows:
Download the demo
Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Download the demo
Get the full version

4 Elements is available to download from these affiliates:
Arcade TownBig Fish Games

15 Comments

samalakar Author Profile Page March 15, 2009 4:07 AM

60 minutes was too addictive... bought the game!
About 3/4 through it and still enjoying it.
A nice twist on the Match theme (god I love these games... the last one I bought was Puzzle Quest 2).
Really smooth graphics, but I could easily do without the Spot the Differences and collect the pieces stages.

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This game is actually rather good (although I disliked the paste-on hidden object and find-the-mistake bits).

However it has one problem. The game is initially rather easy, but about 75% into the game the difficulty ramps up with the last few levels being truly hard. Now I didn't mind this, but the difficulty will probably be a little bit too extreme for the "casual" players.

A little strategy advice - always look for groups of 5 or more and don't be scared of using the "shuffle" power-up as often as you need. If at first you don't succeed, try and try and try again, not solely because you'll acquire more skill, but also because sometimes the jewels be stacked in such a way that what was hard the first try can be laughably easy the second time around.

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Hey, I remember playing this.

Anyway, if you didn't know, you can still match things while the screen is moving, if you're some kinda point junkie.

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Columbina March 18, 2009 11:01 AM

75% into the game, baba? I admire your superhuman reflexes. I personally suspect them of pulling a fast one. The levels which someone could be expected to normally play during Big Fish's free-trial period were all relaxing and sane; then as soon as I plunked down cash, the game got impossible. I'm stuck now with a game I absolutely can't play. I'm waiting for someone to come up with a hack for this thing that kills the timer, or slows it down dramatically.

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Mandy Huggins May 27, 2009 5:59 AM

I have found that on the last level that as the energy is flowing along the botton just concentrate on getting the red & green icons for the spade & bomb power ups, as the energy does not flow through this you do not need a continuous channel, you can then use the bomb to clear the ice and the spade to remove the icon, the game then progresses as normal. I am 52 years old and I managed it - twice!
When you get to the final part it is quite spectacular leading up to the finsh......Good Luck

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LaserLady May 1, 2010 8:28 PM

I bought the full version after getting hooked playing online. The full version is quite a bit different than the online version - but I have kind of flown through the first 62 levels. Now I am on the last two boards, and level 63 has got me stumped. I can't figure out what and where I am supposed to go and the timer on this particular level is very short. I've already tried it four times, getting a bit further each time, but nowhere near where I need to be to finish it! Anyone have any hints on Level 63??

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Anonymous May 8, 2010 7:33 PM

On level 63, at the start, concentrate on making chains of runes in a straight dash to get the energy to flow as far as you can horizontally across the board before the rocks fall and block you. If you can't get all the way across before getting blocked, use long chains and/or the spade power up to clear blocked spaces. I finally made it through 63, but am still battling 64. Great game, if you don't mind a little frustration.

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gilles gilles May 31, 2010 12:40 AM

I play level 63 in 4 element the game is begin fat all along you need catch a long serial of chain you run fast more fast motor you arrived after you see a tonn of stone more stone 6 or 8 is block the liquid you match bomb and bomm on the stone you need broke the square on the right top for run the liquid the final is very near but stone block liquid after you match color and arrived autel level 64 begin is long long long you need red and yellow full I run an broke square with red and yellow after long long road more problem stone stone etc I am no finish tank you

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I have played this game many times. I've run out of time on some levels and had to restart level 63 several times, but I've always gotten through the game. Now, however, I find I absolutely *cannot* get through level 61! I desperately need the 'switch' tool (yellow), and there never are any! I've literally restarted the level 20+ times and I just can't get through it! Any suggestions?

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Hi Everyone:

My comment is I am on level 63 for about two weeks now and I can not figure out how to get rid of the block??? I used the bomb it does not work. I have everything cleared to go the end of the arrow and finish the level but I can not remove the block. I am really confused about this? They do not tell you how to do this. Can someone help me? If so please email me. It is driving me crazy trying to figure out how to get rid of it.

Thank you
Renee

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Ina Crossley March 2, 2011 7:47 PM

I am 73 and with Marcus spoiler, got through the 63rd level, now for level 64. May use a wired mouse instead of the wireless one as I think the wired one is faster. I hope so! 4 Elements is a marvellous game. Some of the levels I had to do twice or three times, before I worked out what I had to do to get through them.

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Anonymous April 8, 2011 3:00 PM


I can't figure out how to get past level 16! I clear the board and nothing happens, so then what?

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Fennyariel August 3, 2011 12:48 PM

Could somebody please help me with the block puzzle on level 64? What I'd really like is a screenshot of it already solved.

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I got stuck in Level 63. No matter what I do I can not get rid of the steel plate. Any suggestions?????

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