Ever notice how most great movie villains have foreign accents? Russian, German, British… it usually depends on when it was made, but the common thread is there. Animated films are particularly notorious for this. You will find plenty of Russian villains in Elias the Mighty, but also some Russian heroes too – in fact, the game is based on a Russian folk legend.
When the story opens we learn that Russia is full of scoundrels, and I don’t mean communist spies. These guys make Stalin look like Santa Claus. The Nightingale Robber lurks near the river at Smorodina, and no one can get past him. What’s a country to do? Well, luckily for the citizens, Russia is also full of heroes like you, Elias the Mighty. Being absolutely flipping enormous has its advantages, as you’ll see when the bad guys go flying across the story screen.
How to beat these fiends? You must match a variety of symbols to their correspondingly shaped gaps. These shapes are varied each round, and include horses, bulls, feathers, jugs, and all manner of other objects. At later levels, there are even changing symbols, which stop their shape shifting once you’ve grabbed them.
You gain bonus points for placing shapes of the same color next to each other, so it really pays to have rows of all blue, green, or yellow in order to bring up the score. In order to beat each level, you need to beat the target score. If you don’t make the cut, you lose one of your lives. You’re only given 3 lives to live, after which you must start again, so the pressure is on.
Elias loses power gradually throughout the game, which lowers the number of points that he earns when the round is over. Flowers, donuts, and honey are all food items which can boost your power. An army marches on its stomach – remember that. It’s good to keep plenty of food handy. Discarding unwanted tiles also boosts Elias’ power.
There are several special gaps to take notice of, giving you certain temporary powers. The wand lets you fill any shaped gap with the current color. Bonus symbols give additional points, and hourglasses will “pause” the game, preventing Elias from losing power while its activated. Scrolls give you hints on where to place symbols, and gems can be used to buy food and equipment.
Of course, to be a good hero you need some equipment. Equipment boosts your points, relative to Elias power level (so the more power he has, the more all of his items are worth). You can purchase items and food using the gems you’ve earned, which you pick up by matching pieces to gem tiles. To start you get a scoop, sword, and barrel. As you gain riches, you can buy thirteen different upgrades, including chain mail, a shield, an axe, a helm, and even a steely rose.
Elias the Mighty has high quality 2D graphics, which look like what you’d find in a good animated children’s movie. The music is suitable, and the general atmosphere is fun. While it’s not completely unique, it’s not a clichÃ©d genre either, so its something different than what you see a lot of in casual games.
Unfortunately, Elias the Mighty also suffers from some mighty notable flaws. The story premise is engaging, but ends up poorly executed. The story screens are shown in between each level. Quite a number of these story screens include no text captions, so you’re left to imagine what is happening. For example, you might be shown a scene of bandits flying through the air, but its up to you to figure out if they are jumping to attack, or being thrown off by Elias. When you are given story, it is generally very short, maybe a sentence or too, and feels awkward. The whole plot is generally hard to follow.
While the notion of Elias’ power and how it relates to score points is interesting, it can become frustrating to constantly have to feed the big guy. It’s nearly impossible to get past levels four and five without resorting to constant feedings. I suppose if I ate nothing but honey and donuts and flowers I’d be hungry all the time too, but still…it puts a lot of pressure on the player to try and fill his gullet while focusing on the matches.
Also, despite a number of upgrades, the game dynamics don’t change much from level to level, so it becomes very repetitive after a short while. There aren’t any mini-games, nor many powerups that drastically affect the game play.
Elias the Mighty is a mighty good attempt, but it falls mighty short. It would be great to see a sequel which has a stronger story, and more variety from level to level to keep the players more engaged.