7 Elements is a fast paced Match-3 type of game, developed and published by a couple of studios out of China. The biggest draw for the game is the inventive multi-touch gameplay that allows you to move as many gems as you see them in the game, not limited to two at the same time, you can do more than two if the gems are available for the moves. The graphics are very polished and music decent. It would have been a great Match-3 game with a refreshing spin on the gameplay with multi-touch if it weren't for the complete lack of game design.
At first the multi-touch gameplay will throw you off a bit if you are a long time Match-3 veterans who lived and breathed games such as Bejeweled, Montezuma or Cradle of Rome, but very quickly you'll find that the multi-touch element adds some very interesting aspects to the gameplay. First of all, you start to train your vision to see a bigger picture than just the normal three gems, using two fingers to line up at least 5 gems for the eventual power-up moves. Then you'll discover that you can use more than two fingers to move two gems, you can move three or four gems all at once, in one move, if the option is there on the board. And all of sudden, you're searching every direction for possible links of gems and the entire game board becomes your playground.
All that excitement of expanding a traditional Match-3 gameplay was stumped by the non-existent game design. Unlike traditional Match-3 games that often offer dozens if not hundreds of levels, 7 Elements essentially offers only 1 level that's timed with a very short timer. We say it's a short timer, we're only guessing as the game doesn't even offer you an actual timer so that you can keep track of your progress. There are no other game modes, difficulty levels or anything that resembles a different way of approaching the game other than playing one level over and over again without knowing how fast you need to go.
The only thing you earn when you complete a game is coins that you can use for power-ups the next time you play the game again. There are five power-ups and you can use three in the game. You need the coins to unlock power-ups, which costs a lot and that provides a great opportunity for the game to make money on IAP, and it costs a good amount of money to use the power-ups that you've already unlocked. This wouldn't be a bad design if there are many levels and different game boards with different layouts to play through and earn money, but as the game stands today, it expects you to earn coins slowly with a single level of gameplay, a Sisyphean way of approaching something that's meant to be fun.
The game does support Game Center and Facebook, but with one level of gameplay, few will actually try to play for long to beat high scores.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics in 7 Elements are well done, polished and colorful, and animations run smoothly. The game plays in a portrait mode which gives you bigger space for longer gem links. The touch control is responsive, it might take you a bit of time to get used to using two or more fingers to move the gems on the screen, but once you do, it's easy to control the game. The gem pieces look distinctly different from each other, making it easy to recognize the similar pieces. It's a shame that you get the same effect, only better scores, whether you linked 4 or 6 pieces together, but once you've done a bunch, the game offers animations that indicate the super effects, like frenzy. All these gorgeous graphics only serve as a reminder that how much you wish the game design was better.
The background music is upbeat and matches the gameplay well. Sound effects company the gem movements and successful combos. Everything you'd expect in a Match-3 game in the sound department is here and it all feels appropriate and fitting with the game. You don't get to hear a lot of the nice BGM though as the game gives you a short level.
The flash of brilliance of adding multi-touch in a Match-3 is overshadowed by the lack of design and direction in the gameplay. The 7 Elements could have been a very enjoyable or even game changing experience in the crowded genre, but it fell well short of a title that's worthy of recommendation. There are many titles that offer much richer experience and definitely longer gameplay in this genre. So save your dollar and wait for either a drastic update that adds some gameplay into this title or other titles that might take on the multi-touch approach.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Sharp, colorful and 3D looking, smooth animation. Sound: -4- Nice sound track and sound FX, but you hear so little because the gameplay is so short. Controls: -4.5- Smooth and responsive. Gameplay: -2- One level of timed game without a timer indication. Power-ups cost too much. Not a fun gaming experience.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Make sure you expand your view to more than 3 gems.