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Elemental Shooter

Published by Lightworks Game Studio
Price $12.95
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Primary Genre Secondary Genre

The world of Elemental was a peaceful place once. Thirty six obelisks brought harmony through their mystical power - until the monsters came. Now the obelisks are in ruins and the planet is infested. You grab your crossbow. You won't give up this world without a fight...

Our lone hero, on a world of monsters. A melee power-up explodes outwards, damaging all monsters in the vicinity.

Elemental Shooter is a top down blaster in which you command a single brave fighter and battle an endless army of monsters, including an array of gigantic creepy crawlies. Your aim is to repair the thirty six broken obelisks, which you do by finding power stones and bringing them to the obelisks, but chiefly the aim is to blast monsters with your crossbow and four different kinds of crossbow bolt (the elements of fire, electricity, acid and ice). Killing monsters usually results in coins, which can be spent on improving your abilities, and they also sometimes drop power-ups to temporarily boost speed, accuracy, damage and so on. Destroying monsters also allows you to level up. As obelisks are restored and your character grows in strength, new enemies will appear.

Controls are fairly basic. You move with the WASD or arrow keys, and fire with the space bar. There is no manual targeting - your character will automatically target the nearest enemy in range, though accuracy (especially at first) will be less than perfect. Enemies will swarm around you, so it helps to keep moving as you fight. You can run if you need to make a quick escape, though doing so will cause you to drop coins - an unusual twist! If you take too much damage from the wildlife, you'll drop dead in a shower of coins - but don't worry. Head for the nearest obelisk (broken or otherwise) to be restored to physical form and return to the fight; all your coins, however, will be dropped where you died. If you have a fair amount of cash saved up, hit Tab to open the character screen and select skills to upgrade - though be warned that the game is not paused when you do!

Elemental effects can be very useful. Fire can do continuous damage, for instance. The ground itself explodes upwards. The wise player heads for cover.

These screenshots can't really capture the essence of the graphics, which feature lush 3D jungle. The trees and rocks are very real obstacles. Enemies are colour coded - don't bother attacking red monsters with fire, for instance - and they fade into and out of existence when spawned/killed. Obelisks fly back together when you bring them power stones, which is quite eerie when first seen. Coins and powerups somewhat blend into the background but can generally be distinguished, and there are several different kinds of monster in a range of sizes. Bigger ones obviously require more effort but reap bigger rewards. You can see the general health of enemies by the red health bar that appears above them - however, this isn't consistent. I'm not sure why some enemies didn't display this bar while others did. Five short music themes accompany the game, played fairly randomly during the game itself, and a fairly sparse range of sound effects accompany the various beasties that you encounter. There are also crossbow sounds, etc.

Elemental Shooter is deceptively sedate. Most top-down shooters are fast paced, with enemies swarming on all sides and the fire button held down most of the time, but not here. I'm not sure whether there's something awry with my system and it really *should* be fast paced, though my avatar moved quickly enough when sprinting or with a speed power-up. Yet, for me at least, sedate is a good word - you may have different results. Yet, deceptively sedate? Indeed it is - stop for too long and you'll soon be overrun. Those giant spiders move slow but they spawn in large numbers and take a fair bit of killing. A crossbow is not exactly the fully-automatic death-dealer one normally has in these games.

And herein lies one of the problems with Elemental Shooter. It doesn't let up. One can "pause" the game by pressing Escape and bringing up the game menu, but exploring your character screen does not freeze the action. Other problems - the instructions are limited. There are ingame instructions that introduce the basics, but leave everything else to the player to discover. Some instructions are even wrong - if your health bar depletes, you are told to collect some coins to continue. Yet you can't pick up coins until you've reached an obelisk and regained some physicality, and not having coins doesn't seem to impact on the game! There is also no main menu screen - on starting, you are thrown straight into the action. There IS an ingame menu that allows you to restart, adjust settings and quit, but you can only ever have one game going at a time.

The aim is to restore thirty six obelisks - this will take you some time, given that each obelisk requires three power stones and these are remarkably rare item drops by enemies. Restoring an obelisk rewards you with various goodies, including exploding butterflies (!). As obelisks are restored, new types of monster appear, but the treacly pace means this can take a long time. Since I'm not sure you can actually die in this game, you presumably will get there eventually, but it all plays as something of a grind with little sense of achievement.

Elemental Shooter is the work of a single developer. For this I have some respect - it is very hard to produce a full game at all, especially alone, and many end up going for the easy option of a matching puzzler or a clone of an old classic. Yet I can't make myself like this game - it's frustrating, because I feel it could be so much better. It feels to me more like an engine for a game rather than a finished game in itself - add some instructions, a menu screen, a plot, profile support and a bit more oomph and you've got something rather good. Please do not be discouraged, Lightworks; the lessons you learn from a first game will improve the second, and you've already done most of the hard work. I would very much like to see an Elemental Shooter 2 here at Bytten and see the difference.

Graphics 85%
Sound 70%
Playability 70%
Longevity 60%
Overall Score 70%
Bronze Star

Published on 21 May 2010
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

Keywords: elemental shooter review, lightworks game studio reviews, lightworks game studio games, elemental shooter scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.

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