Element4l Still Looks Delightful, Releases This Week


Yes, there’s a four in Element4l‘s title. John already went over that, and lo didest a pun thread of the mightiest proportions congeal beneath his article. Goodness, though, what an enchanting little game we have hiding behind that oppressively silly numeral. It’s a beautifully minimal thing, but with lights, shadows, and glimmers of mystery in just the right places. You, meanwhile, are an adorably amorphous elemental blobthing, and rapidly bouncing back and forth between your various natures is the only way to survive each level. Warning: the launch trailer after the break contains dangerous quantities of wonderment. You will probably swoon until your lungs crumble into confetti. Proceed cautiously.

Awwwwwwww. Don’t let this one’s looks fool you, though. Developer I-Illusions claims it’s actually quite tough. “Think quick or die” seems to be the prevailing message, at which point it turns into “think quick and then die, because we’re not letting you get comfortable”. Here’s the gist:

“In Element4l, you control the state of your character to find your way through a dreamy underworld. Your only hindrances are nature and the sun. It takes a different, experimental approach to classic platform games and challenges you to rearrange your reflexes. The state-changing, physics-based gameplay invites all ages to think logically, and reveals that pressing the right button at the right time, is often more rewarding than mashing buttons. Just when you thought pressing the left button would make your character go left, Element4l crushes this doctrine.”

Obviously, this sort of game always risks stomping too far over the line between challenge and frustration, but I’d definitely like to see Element4l strike a good balance. It’s coming to Steam on May 24th, so we won’t have to wait long to see where it lands.


  1. SominiTheCommenter says:

    3 1 3 |\/| 3 |\| -|- /\ |_

    • Ross Angus says:

      Oh, stop it, you!

    • AlwaysRight says:


      (I can never seem to get the hang of these things)

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      But… the four can’t be meant to be a replacement for an a. Look at how the name of the game is written in the trailer. There’s no way that can be read as an a.

      Oh, and the comment thread for John’s linked article has old spam in it (from November).

      • MacTheGeek says:

        If the four has to be a four, then the name of the game is “Element 4L”. Clearly “4L” must be some sort of large-base notation, as no element in the periodic table sounds close to “four-ell”.

        So if our base is large enough to encompass the numerals 0-9 and the letters A-L (and throw out the letter “I” to avoid confusion with “1”), then it has to be base-24 or larger. In base-24 notation, “Element 4L” would refer to base-10 element 119, also known as ununennium. Larger bases would push the “element 4L” out even further into the realms of hypothetical synthetic elements.

        I guess the developers just wanted gamers to think about the words of Marty McFly when discussing Element 4L: “Whoa, this is heavy.”

  2. NotToBeLiked says:

    I’ve been playing this for a week or so now. And indeed it’s hard, but not Super Meat Boy fun hard. Most of the time it’s annoying hard. It’s fun and cool to watch when everything works, but if it doesn’t, you get to watch a 4-5 second dying & respawning animation. And that happens a lot.
    There’s also a far to great element of randomness in which the exact same actions do not reproduce the exact same results. It’s also very easy to get ‘stuck’ in a level because you didn’t approach an obstacle in the correct form or at the correct speed. So a level tends to become a chore restarting over and over again until you memorize the correct sequence of actions.

    Don’t play it too long either, because after a while, the framerate tanks completely.

    If anyone can give me a hint on the other recent indie game with a very similar background art (especially the trees), it’s driving me crazy!

    • teethreaper says:

      Well, I don’t agree… I’ve been playing the early access as well and I must say I had a great time. OK, it’s indeed hard, but I liked it. Also… I’ve not experienced the frame rate issue. If you do, you should contact the developer, I’m sure he would try to solve it as quickly as possible…

    • Brainstrain91 says:

      The game you’re thinking of is NightSky – same aesthetic, same genre. This does look good though. I’ll be waiting most anxiously for the sale.

    • zelgaris says:

      Also one of the “early access” players and also I can’t agree with you. Only really valid point I see in your comment is the long respawn and I also find it longer than it could be, but you are in no way dying as often as in Super Meat Boy.

      Whether the game is actually “annoying hard” or not pretty much depends on your skill – take into account a fact, that there were people, who found even Super Meat Boy frustrating, yet the game is well designed – sadly with lack of player’s skill the frustration comes.

      I think Mr. Van Welden did a good job to prevent the possible frustration, while not making the game too easy/simple. You have unlimited lives, plenty of checkpoints, camera showing you area in front of you (so you have a time to react), hint system with a ghost showing you the way and what to do, lot of places to experiment with transformation combos, etc.

      Considering the randomness you are talking about, since it is a physics based game, there will always be some kind of randomness, but in case of element4l, it is hardly “far to great” – not only the levels are designed in a way you can do a lot of mistakes and don’t have to be accurate, yet still being able to finish them without dieing (there is far more space for error than in Super Meat Boy, for example), but in case your efforts don’t reproduce the same (or almost the same) results, maybe it is not really the problem with the game.

      Saying that, this game is not for everyone the same way Super Meat Boy is not for everyone.

    • Xepter says:

      Nightsky or Knytt Underground, both made by nifflas, might resemble the aesthetics of this game ^^