Screen-wrapping is almost as old as gaming itself (think Asteroids, Pac-Man and even 1962's Spacewar!). Four Sided Fantasy builds its puzzles around this concept, allowing you to "lock" the screen at any moment and screen-wrap to another side of it.
It's a novel and interesting way to employ such an oft-used mechanic and it results in a lot of situations that are hard to wrap your head around (no pun intended). Things start off fairly simply. You only have two controls to learn, X to jump and R2 to screen lock. When you lock the screen, its four sides essentially become teleport lines that transport you to the opposite side of the screen if you touch one of them. So, if you come up against an impassable vertical barrier, you'll have to lock the screen and run left, reappearing on the right edge of the screen on the other side of the barrier. Each time you screen-wrap, you'll switch character from male to female, but this has no effect on the actual gameplay, just the aesthetics.
Despite the apparent simplicity of many of the puzzles, they can often be fiendishly difficult to solve. It can be quite maddening to see your goal so close but be unable to figure out how to reach it because the screen-wrapping mechanic is so mind-bending. To complicate matters further, each of Four Sided Fantasy's five worlds introduces a new rule set. The second world flips your character upside-down when you wrap so he or she walks on the ceiling. This is necessary for getting past some of the hazards, but it also adds an extra layer of consequence to consider whenever you wrap. Later levels add foreground-background switching and screen-splitting, the latter of which being the most challenging of all.
As well as changing things up gameplay-wise, each world also brings with it a new graphical theme, each one designed around one of the seasons. Though the visuals are understandably simplistic for an indie release, they have an attractive, brightly coloured appeal. There's also a serene and atmospheric soundtrack, complete with ambient tones and nature sounds.
However, with essentially only five levels, a couple of which are divided into two sub-levels, Four Sided Fantasy is a short experience that will probably take most gamers only two to three hours to beat. Furthermore, quite a lot of its puzzles can be solved by randomly jumping around rather than figuring out the proper way to progress (a few times I got past a screen without even realising what I'd done). This isn't helped by the fact that Four Sided Fantasy can be quite glitchy, too. Sometimes, you're able to run through solid walls or fall through the floor which leads to confusion as to the exact rules of how to solve its puzzles. I also had to restart the whole level occasionally when an item disappeared or a tunnel was blocked off that shouldn't have been. This made me clear the previous puzzles again to reattempt the one it glitched out on. There's also persistent screen tearing and occasions when you get blocked by invisible objects.
Once you beat the game, there's a new game plus option that adds extra permanent wrap lines. I thought this would make things more challenging, but surprisingly it has no apparent effect on the difficulty level thus making it essentially the same as the regular game.
Four Sided Fantasy is pretty to look at and listen to and many of its puzzles are cleverly put together and tough to solve. However, it's very short and afflicted by many technical problems. It's a smart and original addition to the puzzle-platformer genre, but there are several better examples of it out there on PlayStation 4.
- + Some cleverly designed mind-bending puzzles
- + Changes up mechanics with each world
- + Attractive graphical style and music
- - Many technical problems and glitches
- - Some puzzles can be solved by random jumping rather than brainpower
- - Rules are confusing and inconsistent