7
Our overall verdict "bronze"

The trouble with magic is … it’s always trouble. Same with Tribbles. In fact it’s caused so many problems, it’s been hidden away on a remote island away from the clutches of evil (the magic, not the Tribbles). Wait, let me start again. The Dark Lord wants the secret of the 4 Elements and an old bearded monk dude isn’t going to let him have it. The Keeper of 4 Elements is a tower defence game and your job is to build and adapt towers to stop the Dark Lord’s invading armies from marching inland and stealing the magic.

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As tower defence games go, The Keeper of 4 Elements is of the more simplistic variety. It is a solid game, however, and offers a pretty decent challenge. As you kill the enemies you’ll earn coin to spend either buying new towers or upgrading your current ones. It really is a race to build up your force before, one by one, the opposing army march right past your old monk. I mentioned the monk, right? He’s your last stand and will blast with his magic stick any enemies who make it past your towers. Don’t rely too much on him, though. He really is your last resort.

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You have four different types of towers to choose from, each representing one of the four elements. There’s a fire tower, air, earth which spits rocks and water which, erm, gives your enemies a good soaking. As you progress through the levels, you unlock the ability to upgrade each tower quite drastically. For example your wet weekend of a well will eventually become a huge tower capable of freezing your enemies in place, and believe me you’re going to find that very handy.

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As you successfully complete levels you will earn stars, the quantity of which will depend on the difficulty you’ve selected for each stage. You can then spend your stars on perks in the upgrade screen. These perks range from cheaper costs to higher damage and faster firing. There are even upgrades for your monk dude. Progression will depend on these perks, so spend your stars as soon as you’ve got them.

Helping you along are the elements themselves. Unleash tornados, storms, earthquakes and flaming boulders from the sky to damage and slow down the oncoming forces. Each one takes forever and a day to recharge, so using tactically is a must. A tornado is great to damage a whole line of marching nasties, while with expert timing the flaming boulder will take the sneaking ninja down a peg or two so that your last towers and your monk actually stand a chance of bringing him down before he completes his journey.

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You’ve got lots of enemy types to deal with and it takes a while to work out what works best. Ninjas periodically disappear, Riders on horses are speedy and Shamans heal nearby enemies. The art style reminds me a lot of Tiny Troopers. It’s diddy and colourful, although it does lack any sort of real humour which is a shame. Making up for that is the music. Loud and dramatic, it is at odds with the cartoonish graphics but all the same gives the game a nice theatrical edge.

As I said earlier, The Keeper of 4 Elements offers up challenge. It’s not as easy as you think it’s going to be and you’ll need to replay some levels many times until you twig which tactics you need to use. Life certainly becomes easier with the perks, but unlocking them in the first place is where the fun is.

Conclusion

Although nice on the PS4, with its mobile game feel The Keeper of 4 Elements is more at home on the Vita with its touch screen controls. Cute and colourful and surprisingly challenging, this is a terrific little pocket tower defence game.

S J Hollis Rating – 7/10 

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S J Hollis

S J Hollis has been a keen gamer since the Atari 2600. She freely admits she thought E.T. was a good game but would like to stress her tastes have since dramatically improved. She is also an author, a morning person and thinks Elf ears are sexy. Follow her on twitter @SJHollis_