If you think fairies and other supernatural critters have it easy, it’s obvious you haven’t played Intenium’s latest brain-boggling puzzler Elven MIsts, wherein the inhabitants of Elvenland lie trapped in magical slumber. The trick to freeing them: Using your noggin to create linked pathways between magical nodes that overlap with the enchanted buds in which these poor sprites are imprisoned.
Sporting attractive sound and visuals, as well as a catchy play mechanic, it’s the sort of title gamers of all ages and genders will be drawn to. The only question we have is how long they’ll choose to stick around, given the overall laid-back pace at which the outing operates.
Two play modes – Arcade and Relaxed (which removes all time limits) – greet you at the start, with the former being by far the most engaging choice. No matter which you pick, you’ll move along a board game-style map attempting to successfully complete individual scenarios, traversing additional squares as you beat each challenge. All levels are, of course, self-contained, and begin with shimmering, gossamer-winged pixies flying onto the board and nestling within flowering blossoms. Your goal is, of course, to rescue every one. How to do so? Simply lay down pieces of varying shape and size, which look similar to Tetris blocks (left-click to place, right-click to rotate), in such a manner as to cover the squares on which they’re located, while also connecting two magical portals. Do so, and these blocks dissolve while sprites fly free amidst an eye-catching sprinkle of faerie dust.
The catch being as follows: The squares from which each block is formed can’t overlap one another, and each shape boasts different coloring. Therefore, you’ll have to take care to create pathways composed of similarly-hued shapes slowly but surely, placing down blocks while being mindful of the fact one can only tell what one single shape is coming next. (Upcoming shapes/colors are completely randomized.) And, of course, the fact that rocks, blocks and other predefined obstacles limit the amount of space that you have to operate in to start with. The trick then is to slowly, but surely make useful connections. Still, you’ll constantly have to decide whether to play it slow and low with smaller links, or try for big payouts stretching across much of the playfield, at the risk of potentially walling off escape routes and painting yourself into a corner.
As such, the game will leave your brow constantly scrunched, if not drenched in sweat. Although it sports 92 individual levels, and you’ve only got 5 lives to complete all (in a nice touch, it’s actually possible to skip certain stages by sacrificing a life), excitement rides shotgun to aggravation here. Certainly, the more colors and obstacles – e.g. brambles, which burn down when adjacent squares are successfully used to link two nodes – added, the more tense the action gets. But while bound to engage existing fans of the puzzle game category, it’s hardly the sort of mouse-mashing affair liable to attract newcomers to the genre.
Nonetheless, the presence of various bonus items, which randomly appear for a limited time and can be collected by placing a block over them, does help keep things hopping. (Think magic wands that let you remove colored blocks, universal bricks, etc.) And, of course, even closet geniuses will need several days to complete the adventure. This being the case, those who just can’t get enough slow-to-simmer brainteasers can’t go wrong adding Elven Mists to their collection. Enthusiasts who prefer their cranium-crushing outings a little more lively or capable of inducing cardiac arrest, though, are encouraged to instead sit this one out.