Four Sided Fantasy

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Ludo Land for PC, Mac and PS4, originally released in 2016.
Four Sided Fantasy is a puzzle platformer featuring a man and a woman looking for one another across a world linked by the four sides of the screen. The game explores screen warping as the characters move off one side of the screen to appear on the other, alternating between the male and female protagonists with each warp. The game is largely a concept piece, with chunks of the game world occasionally rising up into existence for the sheer sake of expressing a new aspect of the game’s primary mechanic, and occasionally altering the rules of this mechanic so that passing through screen transitions reverses gravity or shifts between light and dark planes.

The stylish game world is presented in simple textured shapes, often with subdued colors, offering a number of generally relaxing areas accompanied by a similarly soothing soundtrack. Beyond this, level layouts are simple, offering only straight lines to establish an entirely gameplay-centric environment. Players are able to run and jump, and lock the screen at any time to run off of one side and appear on the other, with the effect presented as a video camera recording.

At first, obstacles are merely walls that block the player’s progress, allowing him to run back and warp ahead to skip them. Later, the player must incorporate jumping and transitioning between the floor and ceiling while avoiding pits of static that will kill him instantly. However, there is no penalty for failing a puzzle challenge; the player has infinite lives and respawns immediately before the most recent challenge.

Later, the player encounters hazy blue and yellow overlays that prevent him from using the warp effect, with a drained battery indicator appearing on the screen, indicating that the video camera effect cannot be activated. These obstacles are overcome by finding color-coded battery indicators in the environment, which cause the overlays to disappear when the player returns to them. This gets the player thinking a bit differently about spatial relationships as he backtracks to find new routes.

One such spatial challenge involves ascending a steep cliff by falling through the floor to appear at a higher point, a technique that is made apparent by the game’s lack of distractions, as the player is locked into the area with only a couple of possible options to experiment with. Another such challenge involves a moving platform that can also be warped from one side of the room to the other, allowing players a creative method to bypass obstacles that would otherwise be mundane in any other platformer setting.

Things begin to grow more complex as the game introduces gravity flipping, where each pass through the edges of the screen not only causes the characters to switch, but also causes gravity to reverse. These areas often have walls of static that must be avoided and platforming challenges that require gravity to be oriented in a specific direction. Players must perform some Portal-esque techniques in order to pass through the warp and maintain their momentum to mount high platforms, and must occasionally perform two warps in quick succession to re-flip gravity and avoid being pulled into walls of static.

The game does occasionally glitch out when the player transitions near a wall, sending him falling out of the world, dropping away from all of the platforms. But even this is a minor inconvenience as the world is lined with insta-death static that eventually kills the player and sends him back to the last challenge, rather than requiring a hard reset after an infinite fall.

Things grow more complex as players warp to move between light and dark dimensions, having to pay attention to overlapping platforms in the foreground and background… although these challenges are a bit less mind-bending than the preceding gravity flipping ones, allowing for some faster gameplay. That said, it’s only a matter of time before the player comes to a halt as he experiences a puzzle that does not have an immediately apparent solution… and this can be especially true of later puzzles where one side of the screen is locked in place.

Provided the player doesn’t find himself mentally blocked by the challenges at hand, the game can be completed in a single sitting, and players who master all of the game’s challenges can return after the credits to experience a New Game+ mode that further alters the screen warping mechanic.

Four Sided Fantasy was developed by Ludo Land, and began its life in 2011 as a student project from Logan Fieth. The final game features additional programming by David Scamehorn and art by Jason Wang, Jesse Phillips, Royce McLean, and Amalachi Zacharia. Music for the game was composed by MJ Quigley, a.k.a. Quiggles, with sound design by Ian Shores. The game's development was funded via Kickstarter.

The game was published by Serenity Forge, which also published Luna’s Wandering Stars and Pixel Galaxy.