Earth! Air! Fire! Water! Some old guy with a stick! By their power combined, they are... The Keeper of 4 Elements, a strategic defense game from Char Studio! When an evil dark lord sets his sights on the mystical scrolls that reside on a distant island, allowing their owner to wield the power of the four elements, he thinks they'll be easy pickin's. After all, their guardian is some old dude with a funny hat. How hard could it be? Well, when that old dude has the ability to construct magical towers to rain destruction down on you, summon torrents of magical elemental energy, and straight up lightning-bolt your keister, pretty hard indeed. Luckily for you, that's the side you're on!
The goal in each stage is to prevent the enemies from reaching the other end of the winding path, since doing so takes health from you, and once all twenty health points are gone it's game over. Along the path you'll find dirt mounds you can click to build one of four different elemental tower types, each with their own strengths and abilities. Once the stage begins, enemies will begin flooding through in waves, and your towers will attack anything within range (as will your monk, stationed at the end of the path), earning cash you can spend to build more or upgrade the ones you've got. (Cash doesn't carry over between levels, so don't be stingy!)
Initially, the enemy forces are a bit of a joke, but each level brings new enemy types to contend with, from shamans who heal those around them to swordsmen who can dash and more. Moreover, many enemies are only weak against specific elements, and deal varying amounts of damage to your health, so getting cocky is a bad idea. Fortunately for you, you'll not only gain access to more powerful tower forms and magical spells, but you'll also earn stars for successfully completing a level that you can spend on permanent upgrades. Each stage has multiple modes of difficulty and thus multiple chances to earn stars, and you can reset spent stars at any time to shuffle your upgrades about as you wish. Make sure to view the Keeperpedia for in-depth information on everything from enemies to spells and towers!
Analysis: Chances are if you're a defense fan, The Keeper of 4 Elements will remind you of both Cursed Treasure and, to an extent, Incursion 2, which is hardly a bad thing. The game looks great, though there are a few issues, such as text descriptions of towers and spells being cut off. Having an enemy's description appear in a small text box at the bottom of the screen is mostly fine, though it is potentially a strain on the eyes. Having a pop-up might have been been better, especially since the in-game text doesn't detail an enemy's elemental weaknesses the way the Keeperpedia does, which can be frustrating when you're dealing with a new type of foe for the first time.
These complaints all largely come down to streamlining the experience, however, and apart from a few rough edges, The Keeper of 4 Elements is largely a very solid and enjoyable defense game. Like Cursed Treasure, the four towers initially seem limiting, but when placed so that they support one another and use their strengths to their best advantage, display a potential for remarkably clever strategy. Which, incidentally, is important since you'll want to replay each level's difficulty tiers to make sure you get the maximum amount of stars for upgrades. It's an extremely addictive little game, if not necessarily original, and enough of a satisfying challenge to keep you hammering away at each level's difficulty tiers until you complete them all. Though it doesn't really bring much new to the genre, there's a lot to be said for doing something very well, and with careful balance and appealing strategy, The Keeper of 4 Elements does just that.