In Pac-Man you’re able to exit one side of the screen and reemerge on the other, allowing you to escape the ghosts that eternally chase you. Four Sided Fantasy takes this concept and runs with it, creating a puzzle platformer where you can freeze the screen and use this element to complete levels. Does Four Sided Fantasy have a novel concept, or is this closer to a four-sided nightmare?
In Four Sided Fantasy, you’ll play as a pair of nameless characters. For reasons unexplained, these people have the ability to freeze areas and walk through the world to the other side. There’s no actual narrative to the game, though there is yet another weird sorta-meta ending that I’ve come to expect from indie games released in 2016. You’ll travel through the four seasons with these characters, each season opening up new ways to play the game using the same basic ideas. The basic mechanics work well, which should allow for some really creative puzzles to figure out. Later stages even caused the camera to split into two, with different events happening on the right and left side that I could switch between, freezing the events on the other side.
While this is a rather creative mechanic, the game never utilizes it in any unique ways. Every puzzle can be solved with the same basic use of the mechanic. You may have to change the angle slightly, but there’s no interesting subversion or evolution of the mechanic that caused me to change my approach. The closest the game gets to a meaningful change is that maybe twice I saw a moving platform, but both times the puzzle involving it barely felt like anything that needed the platform, simply requiring to use my screen powers to move it around a little. You’ll never have to move any boxes or redirect anything besides yourself. There’s a smart central mechanic in Four Sided Fantasy, but the problem is that is just underutilized.
This also means there’s just nothing else to Four Sided Fantasy. It took me about three hours to finish the game, solving slightly different variations of the same puzzles all the while. Sure, the later levels look different with the split screens and moving camera, but it’s still the same basic idea: use the screen teleporting mechanics to solve some very simple puzzles.
The later levels of the game also take a rather unfortunate turn. The spring levels are strangely glitchy, requiring me to constantly reset them and hope that, this time, the game will actually work. One frustrating level saw the screen split in half, each half being a different part of the level that I could move between when using my abilities. During this time I found it almost hilariously easy to use my powers to fall through the world or get platforms suck and vanishing, or even just not working at all. Because of this, I had to repeat this level several times, and the lack of checkpoints means I’d have to repeat almost the entire level just because I managed to fall through the world on a run. Since these levels are some of the last few in the game, it left a very bad closing impression. Also upon finishing the game I got the trophy for beating New Game+ rather than beating the game.
Speaking of New Game +, after you finish the game you can play again. For the most part, it changes how the cameras and screen walking work during some stages of the game, but it doesn’t change the puzzles too much otherwise. For example, in an early level, it makes it so that the screen moves to another screen when you walk through a wall, rather than just having you pop out the other side. Visually it makes the game look more interesting, but that’s about it. It feels like a sort of pointless addition, but if you’re planning a second playthrough then it’s not bad.
Graphically, the screen changing thing is interesting, especially with New Game+. Watching the screen bend and distort as my character sits on a barrier between two streams is pretty cool. Graphically, Four Sided Fantasy has some pretty hand-drawn art. The style is good for those big sweeping landscape shots, and at times the game really stood out. Yet most the time it was just empty areas of grass and rock, nothing really worth looking at. Similar to these vast empty areas, the soundtrack is totally forgettable. It’s there sometimes, and that’s really all I have to say on it.
“It’s there” is almost how I want to describe the entire game. Four Sided Fantasy is there. It does nothing to stand out from any other puzzle platformer, or really any other game. The game’s lone creative mechanic is overshadowed by not using it all that creatively and by the many glitches in the last half. If you’ve exhausted all possible puzzle platformer options then maybe give Four Sided Fantasy a look, but for anyone else, there’s plenty of better games.
Four Sided Fantasy has a fantastic central mechanic, but it doesn't do anything with the mechanic. When later levels become glitchy and the game never really impresses in any other area, there's little to keep you in this fantasy.
- Really creative central mechanic
- New Game+ makes the game look cool
- Art can lead to some nice shots
- Does nothing with mechanics
- Extremely glitchy
- Empty enviroments