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The Keeper Of 4 Elements

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: Strategy
Developer: CharStudio (EU), SPL (US)
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PS4 Review - 'The Keeper of 4 Elements'

by Brian Dumlao on April 28, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The Keeper Of 4 Elements is a tower defense game, in which you have to protect the picturesque island from the invading army of darkness.

The Keeper of 4 Elements tries to help the tower defense genre gain more of a presence on the PS4. It's also a port of a mobile title, a designation that isn't necessarily a negative since we've seen titles like Badlands and Oceanhorn originate in the mobile space and become very solid console and PC games. It would be great to say the same of this title but, unfortunately, that's not the case.

If you're familiar with the classic tower defense formula, you'll already know what to expect from The Keeper of 4 Elements. There are 15 battlefields to go through in the campaign, each with fixed lanes and tower placement areas. You'll fight off a variety of enemies with towers that are based on the four elements (earth, fire, water and wind). All of the towers can be upgraded to different levels to increase their firing range, strength, and firing tempo. The towers can also be upgraded later to add extra elements, like temporarily freezing an enemy in place or adding burning damage to hits. In addition to the towers, you have powers of your own, which include throwing down a meteor or causing an earthquake to occur anywhere on the map. Should a foe make it past all of the towers, there's still a monk at the very end, who will unleash attacks until the enemy gets past and saps away at your overall health.

As in any tower defense game, you're given stars for completing each stage, but you gain them for completing the stage in different difficulty levels. The easy difficulty gives you one star, normal gives you two, and you'll get three stars if you complete the stage on hard. Secondly, the game lets you use the stars to perform upgrades that include decreasing tower costs, increasing the monk attack range, and adding power to your elemental attacks. The good news is that the upgrades aren't permanent, so you can reset and reassign the upgrades if you need to make adjustments.

You're going to notice something about The Keeper of 4 Elements after a few rounds: It's very difficult. Even if you're sticking to the easy difficulty level, the game loves to introduce new enemy types in quick succession, often three or four new enemies in one level alone. Meanwhile, you only get one new tower upgrade level and elemental power per level, so while you aren't terribly underpowered for a fight, you're not on even ground, either. It doesn't help that some of the enemies, like the ninjas and riders, don't seem to be affected by your attacks, so you're guaranteed to lose health no matter what. The challenges can be overcome eventually, but that usually means replaying old stages on harder difficulty levels just to eke out some kind of advantage.

For those expecting a hook for the game, prepare for disappointment. Aside from the game being overly difficult, this is as vanilla as can be. It would make more sense if the game were being billed as some sort of throwback to older tower defense titles. The Keeper of 4 Elements is also available on the Vita, but this is neither a Cross-Buy nor Cross-Save title. At the very least, for a straight port of a mobile game, it's available at a fairly reasonable price ($4).

Sound-wise, the game is a bit mixed. The music is good, and while it's louder than normal, it's good enough to convey the feeling of how epic the battles are going to become. That feeling permeates the game and gets the job done, even if it can feel slightly over-the-top. The effects, on the other hand, are pretty terrible, as nothing played sounds like it would realistically match up. An attack from the air tower, for example, sounds like a hollow laser beam shot. It's made worse by the fact that the sound effects are muffled, making you wish the music overpowered the effects so you wouldn't notice their lack of quality.

There's something to be said for a simple look, but The Keeper of 4 Elements takes that idea too far. You can forego the larger-than-needed buttons when playing the game and the liberal use of what appears to be the Comic Sans font. What can't be overlooked is the backgrounds, which appear rather garish and are only slightly better than a Flash animation project. The various enemies you face fare even worse, as they look like blobs of color with overall shapes that resemble children's drawings. A game doesn't always need to be a showcase of graphics, but it says something when your title looks worse than free games on the internet.

The Keeper of 4 Elements handles the basics of a tower defense game well enough. It may be too difficult for most people, but it's not done in the pleasing way that other titles can get away with. Without a strong presentation and no real defining factors, however, there's not much of a reason to pay attention to this game when there are far more exciting offerings in the same genre and on the same platform. Unless you really like cheap games, you should pass on this.

Score: 5.0/10

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