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Meticulous is the perfect word to describe Element4l, and playing it for the first time is like learning how to run before you walk. The learning curve is steep, but the further I progressed the more competent I felt. If you fancy yourself a master of the platforming genre then buy this game. Element4l will either affirm your opinions, or you will find it quite the humbling experience.

elemental concept

Element4l is hard, like, really hard. It is played by transforming between four different forms: ice, fire, rock and bubble — each sporting an adorable smiley face. Transforming is the only way to move in Element4l, which makes it a pretty odd and original platformer. The key to playing Element4l is to build momentum and act fast. The ice form helps you slide, fire propels you to the right, stone forces you down and bubble gently lifts you up. It’s drastic deviation from the run and jump mechanics found in most platformers, and it takes time to adjust.

The goal of each level is to come in contact with a glowing orb. It sounds easy, but in your way are steep cliffs, lava and hazardous green goo. It actually bears a striking resemblance to Limbo, but if it were splashed with color. And honestly, I like Element4l’s world a lot better. It doesn’t succeed in creating the same eerie feeling that Limbo did, but the colors make it more aesthetically pleasing. More affects add to it, such as dying as the fire element, creates a mini firework show, which is much more dynamic than anything seen in Limbo. Additionally, Element4l features a very pleasing soundtrack that pairs well with its looks.

elemental screen

The real difficulty comes from not being able to transform, since Element4l only allows a certain number of them before you need to recharge; though it is always possible to switch into the ice form. Even after familiarizing myself with the system, I frequently fell short of clearing an obstacle. Having to go back to try again or respawn was demoralizing at the time, but it got me all the more fired up to clear it, since I was so close.

Element4l does, unfortunately, lack a certain level of polish, and occasionally requires an unwieldy amount of precision. I frequently found myself unsuccessfully attempting to redo sections that I knew how to do, but was just barely missing. Element4l is like a game of darts where you’re expected to hit the bull’s-eye over and over again.

[quote_right]Element4l is like a game of darts where you’re expected to hit the bull’s-eye over and over again[/quote_right]

 

The race mode in Element4l allows you to both race your own ghost, and that of another player who has a faster time. I’m usually not big on iterating to improve my time, but there is so much satisfaction in completely destroying my old scores. Especially when it’s not just seconds I’m taking back, but minutes. Early levels that had taken me over 150 lives and 30 minutes to complete – yes, I really was that bad – are easy to me now, and can be done easily in less than 90 seconds. I finished Element4l in about 7 hours, but a speed run – now that I know what I’m doing – would be significantly faster.

Wrap Up

Element4l is the perfect game for those looking for a challenge or leaderboard eminence. I usually don’t go back to a game after I finish it, but I keep looking at my screen and have an itch to play it. If, for nothing else, to beat my old, embarrassing times. Going through it for a second time is completely different than my first run, but still challenging and enjoyable.

score of 7

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