4Pillars, an action adventure by an indie developer E-Lag Creations, is one of those games for Android and iOS that automatically fall into “strange” category. Of course, while a certain degree of strangeness isn’t unusual for indie game production, with 4Pillars this quality isn’t a matter of superficial detail, but a core value which defines the whole experience. You’ll play as an unnamed knight who had passed through a mysterious portal during the battle (because, why not?) and had found himself in a strange underground realm composed of dungeons filled with deadly adversaries and even deadlier traps. However, the most curious thing of all is that pretty soon, a voice of some cowled individual will start mocking you, calling you a murderer and other equally fine appellations, saying that you’re clueless about the things happening around you. It’s obvious that your quest through dungeon world is actually a journey of self-discovery and that malicious voice you’re hearing might very well be the voice of conciseness, guilt, and remorse.
The voxel-based graphics have an interesting visual style, with forbidding and bleak aesthetics enhanced by the fact that almost everything in the game is done in variations of gray, muddy, beige, ashen and other similar color tones and halftones, (with only the rarest of red accents here and there) which combined together blend in one great cheerless tarn of uniformity. However, surprisingly the graphics are in no way drab, and that particular color scheme actually contributes to the overall feeling of angst and suspense, reminding a bit on graphics of forgotten action-adventure legend from the nineties called Ecstatica. The sceneries are also spectacular, with high bridges, dragon’s maws and skeletons which serve as tunnels and particles of ash (or they are still glowing embers?) which are constantly flying around, as if carried by some unceasing breeze.
As for the gameplay itself, there aren’t that many options: you can move by sliding your floating joystick in any direction you want, which affords a welcome flexibility, especially in the game where you’ll be required to skip chasms filled with spikes or evade deadly traps. Also, you have just three action buttons: for jumping, blocking and attacking. However, if you hold your attack button until the circular scale around your character fills, you’ll perform a spinning Charge Attack which will be useful not only in combat but also to clear obstacles around you. Although knight can jump from the height of 10 meters or more and land on his feet like it’s nothing, despite all that armor he is as delicate and frail as a schoolgirl, so the lightest touch of any of those traps is enough to kill him.
On the first glance, it seems as if the fight would be pretty basic and not really engaging at all. However, when dual-wielding goblin war chief starts pounding you with his war hammers, you’ll realize that you’re still required to employ some tactic in your combat style, with regrouping, drawing and separating the enemies when they attack you in bulks, killing smaller opponents first in order to pick up potions and refill your health before you engage in the fray once more. Otherwise, you’ll be quickly overcome by more powerful enemies, especially since some of them tend to constantly spawn until you’ve killed their leader.
Overall, 4Pillars is a mobile game that deserves your attention, especially because you feel that there’s something more about it than just a simple medieval(ish) action adventure about a knight who accidentally strayed through some mystical portal in midst of battle and has to battle scores of enemies in order to return to his world. It has a unique visual style, a decent gameplay and just enough of storyline to drag you through deathly dungeon corridors to the revelation which awaits you in the end.