Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August of Games: Day 21 - Element4l

Paxton is a creepy song with a lot of variety. This is one that could blend right into Coil. It gets pretty interesting near the end too! Seriously, this is one of the best soundtracks of the year so far, easily. And that means it's beating out some masterwork stuff like The Last of Us and Now You See Me, and I didn't expect to be topping Now You See Me quite yet, but it is.

Developer: i-Illusions
Genre (Setting): Surreal, Abstract
Genre (Gameplay): 2D Physics Puzzle Platformer
What is this game: This is a game in which you play a mote of energy that can change itself between the four classical elements. Each acts very differently from each other - Air is a bubble that falls slowly and in general is just floaty (though it ISN'T lighter than the air so it doesn't fly), Water is an ice cube that slides along surfaces and easily picks up speed, Stone is a rock that allows for a sudden burst of downward speed (often used before a slope to give starting momentum), and Fire is a momentary push forward. The environment is mostly deadly (Fire and Air can't touch anything), and the puzzles are often very difficult, requiring split-second timing (though I guess that phrase is pretty common in games since things often happen faster than a second, but even then this requires a ton of precision).
It's visual style is a focused on silhouettes with a lot of colorful bloom-y backgrounds. The soundtrack, by Mind Tree, is phenomenal and was already the feature of a Sunday Songs post, which I loved so much I had first heard the soundtrack the Friday before I posted it.
What's great about it: Let's see:
* Experimental. If there's one thing I love, it's innovation. Hell, I like seeing innovation and will applaud it even if the new stuff makes the game no fun! (this is one of the reasons I have at least grudging respect for the Final Fantasy XIII team). In this game it worked out!
It's not TOTALLY innovative though. It's what you get when you take several existing indie games and make them interact with each other - in particular, Element4l is Nightsky meets LIMBO. The graphics are very obviously a blend of Nightsky's colored backgrounds with silhouettes given a makeover with LIMBO's bloom and painterly texture. The gameplay is reminiscent of Nightsky's puzzles, but makes everything really hard and more complex (in a good way!). The soundtrack pulls its inspirations from all over the place, but Coil (Edmund McMillen; I'll be talking about this before the month's out!) and FEZ, with more minor influences from soundtracks like SpaceChem.
* The graphics are fucking GORGEOUS. I just talked about it being obvious where they come from, but that doesn't mean it's not a really pretty game.
* The soundtrack is phenomenol. I already talked about it here, twice actually, but it just never gets old and is charming and haunting and exciting and an all around good time, even for independent listening.
* It is HARD! You will have your money's worth of gameplay just trying to make it all work. If you want a challenge, here it is.
How do I get it: Steam, for $10!

End Recording,

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