The surprise hit puzzler of the year from Mastertronic!

The latest title from Mastertronic and Playrix comes in the form of a classic Match 3 game that will have you hooked from the moment you switch on the Nintendo DS.      

In what could well be the surprise hit of the year in the puzzler class, 4 Elements stakes its claim to the genres most loved title with its assault on the hearts and minds of gamers everywhere.  

With its familair feel and lay out 4 Elements has entered into the much fought over Puzzler genre, and, in its attempt to be crowned the year’s best, has come out with an arsenal of just plain old-fashioned cracking gameplay that shows gamers that all that graphically glistens is not necessarily gaming gold. Match 3 puzzlers are already a big hit with gamers of all ages and we are predicting that 4 Elements will not be the exception to this rule, as the game delivers on all fronts with its imaginative take on a gaming staple.

You begin with a surprising opening sequence of events that are not usually found in Match 3 titles as you hear the first class voice over acting in haunting  tones that recants, with some detail, the backstory of a kingdom under attack and siege from a Dark Force that seeks to blight the land by releasing a terrible plague that has begun to destroy the very elements that make up the realm’s existence. The tree’s are withering and dying and the sea’s turning to poison as the even the air and earth become contaminated with the unknown toxin.  It is here we learn from a wizened old mage that we are the only person who can help to save the kingdom by undertaking the dangerous and perilous task that will allow us to once again restore balance to the four elements, and in turn heal the land of this deadly blight.

So off we go in search of the legendary four book’s of elemental power that will save the world and unite the people once more as we balance nature and restore peaceful harmony to the realm.

We battle the evil plague with the standard format of the grid shaped set-up that see’s each cell of the division taken up by a shape or symbol. The way forward is to match three similar symbols, which in turn allow further symbols to fall from the top of the screen and thus repeating the formula.  Unlocking the secrets of each of the four books is by no means a simple task as you must first find the broken pieces that lie scattered around the game realm, and are indicated at the foot of the screen. Once you have all the correct pieces of the broken item you must then rebuild the broken parts to activate a mechanism which grants you  the key that will unlock the elemental book you seek. 

Book in hand you must now align the flow of the element you have unlocked back to its source as you guide the flow back to its ‘tree.’

With the magical book in your possession you are then presented with the first of your Match 3 challenges as you must now ‘Spot The Difference’ to ultimately win the round.

Each of the four books are unlocked in uniform fashion but nevertheless the imaginative take on an already saturated genre offers a much needed break from the norm in the Match 3 class. With a staggering 64 puzzles and 16 Spot-the-Difference challenges you have plenty to do in this cracking title.

The gameplay in Playrix’s game is so far in advance of the vast majority of the myriad of other Match 3 titles out there, and for that reason alone should be given serious consideration from gamers. But the way that the developer has managed to make even the basic matching of the symbols more entertaining by making some of the blocks frozen or liquid is pure genius. There are even power up’s that allow the player to utilize tools to assist them to best clear their path to the scattered objects.

All in all 4 Elements makes for an enjoyable alternative in a genre that is filled with clones and similarly styled games. Quite literally there is nothing else in the Match 3 class  like 4 Elements.

Graphics: Whilst not being the eye-popping visuals of a big budget blockbuster, the game nevertheless is pleasing to the eye and soothing to the ear with its haunting classical score that will soon leave gamers under its spell. The images are functional and the graphics dependable.  A very solid   7

Gameplay: Our favourite Match 3 title by a country mile, as the injection of a new pace to the proceedings, along with a storyline and some great voice acting, brings 4 Elements into a class of its own within its genre. Easy to understand controls and excellent additions to the format in the shape of tools and power ups see’s the game worry not about its look and more about its content than other titles in its class. If you purchase one Match 3 puzzler all year then make sure it is 4 Elements. 8

RePlay Value: You will be playing this title from now until Christmas as the gameplay and feeling that you get that you are actually playing through a storyline shine through in a sea of similar styled titles. Great gameplay equates to a great gaming experience and that is exactly what 4 Elements delivers on.           8

Presentation: As we stated at the beginning of this review. ‘All that glistens is not gold.‘ But in the case of 4 Elements it should have said something more along the lines of ‘All that does not glisten is gaming gold’ as the title takes the crown for Match 3 puzzlers. A truly enjoyable experience that will have you coming back for more time and again. Could well take the puzzler of the year title.    9

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