Indie Review: Element4l
Element4l is an immersive and heartfelt experience that not many indie games can match.
- Worth The Time?Yes, it most definitely is.
- Things LovedThe atmosphere of the game was both delightful and endearing, the visual design was beautiful, with fluid controls and an excellent soundtrack.
- Things HatedThe difficulty curve may be a problem for some. However, this is part of the game's appeal and central core mechanics.
- RecommendationIf you enjoy minimalist platformers like Limbo, this may be the game for you.
- Name: Element4l
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: None
- Platforms: PC, Mac
- Developer: I-Illusions
- Publisher: I-Illusions
- Price: R100 ($9.99)
- Reviewed On: PC
Element4l is a challenging game, but not challenging for the sake of being difficult. No it’s challenging because of the game’s premise and its aim at a unique experience. The game is all about maintaining a smooth flow and not dying in the process. It tells the story of a journey to shape life, how nature and all elements come together.
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You play as an entity which is bound together by four elements which can each be used to propel, increase the speed and flight of your character over various obstacles. The challenges in each level are dictated by nature and the sun. Simply put, to overcome challenges your character can turn into an air bubble, a rock, an ice cube and a blazing ball of fire. All of which can be used to take on different changes in the environment that the level pushes in your way such as sections of ice, rocky outcrops and steep slopes. You just have to be careful that you’re not in the wrong state, such as an air bubble heading for some spiky rocks.
Element4l is about getting to know your environment and utilising your reflexes to the maximum. When playing you don’t have the luxury of direction keys to initiate movements, movement is all up to your choices in different elemental states, demarcated to the various directions on your keyboard or gamepad. If you want to increase the speed of your character down a slippery slope you’ll have to use your ice block form, but if a high drop is required you may need to quickly change into your rock form, and time your drop, whilst quickly changing into an ice cube. Because of this challenge it is all the more satisfying when you’re successful with your run through one of the many levels. With 16 levels throughout 4 stages, you’ll be spending a great deal of time trying to finish this game.
The game, like many indie games, seems deceptively simple on the surface with a relatively easy to grasp control scheme; however, things heat up pretty quickly as your skills are tested from the outset. Element4l is about mastering the gameplay mechanics and becoming adept at adapting to quick environmental changes, such as a layer of molten lava that cascades down a wall, to all the bumps and turns in a cavernous part of the level that may burst your bubble, quite literally. Once you get to grips with this, the game is immensely enjoyable and has a charm all its own. Just remember that you will die a number of times before you become the Element4l grand master.
Element4l’s visual design is characterised by a striking combination of a pitch black foreground and a background of various light colourful hues that give the game great appeal. All the levels are beautifully crafted, and the character you play is as equally as charming. What comes across is that this game has great heart, and this is all achieved in the most minimalist of visual design schemes, that fits the game well. The quality of the visual design helps to bring to the life the journey of all these elements that are bound together by fate.
The visuals are complimented by a soundtrack composed by Mind Tree, who brings lovely ambient sound to the world of Element4l. The music truly helps create the genuine heartfelt atmosphere in the game, which is both bewitching and beautiful to listen to. The music eases you well into the game and leaves a lasting impression.