Developer: CoacoaChina
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When I first started up 7 Elements I had the same basic thought a lot of new players have probably had: “Oh, look, another match-3 game.” It took all of two steps through the tutorial for my brain to shift to “Huh. That’s actually pretty cool.” Several rounds and a high score I’m fairly proud of – but will most likely be trounced easily – later and I’m ready to sing its praises. Don’t bother waiting for a “but,” because there isn’t one.

On the surface 7 Elements is very similar to most match-3 games. Players match three of a given element (water, trees, air, etc) and score points. Then they keep doing it until time runs out and then do it all over again to try and beat their last score. Or possibly get a top spot on the leaderboards. Where things get different is in the combination of four or more of the same element. Matching more than three of a kind creates absorbs the pieces and creates a single powerful element that will have various effects on the board once matched with any of their buddies whether they’re basic or fellow specials. It also uses multitouch, which does a shockingly good job of changing up the typical formula. Instead of simply swiping one element, players can swipe two at the same time anywhere on the board. It’s a method that can create a row of five where there was originally two, complete two separate groups on different sides of the board, and more.

The individual powers each “level two” element possesses can really make a difference during a game. Earth’s perimeter explosion can take out eight surrounding pieces at once, fire can clear out an entire column by burning vertically along the board, water performs similarly only it cascades down, etc. But by and large gold is the most important. It doesn’t clear many pieces when it starts dropping coins all over the place, but those coins can be used in between playthorughs to purchase special temporary modifiers that can do all manner of things from slow down time at the end of a game to boosting the payout for acquired gold.

The multitouch can be spotty on occasion but aside from moving the wrong piece every once in a while it never becomes much of an issue. A larger but still overall minor issue is that there’s no clear indication of when the game will end. There’s obviously a clock of some sort as well as an audio cue when it’s getting down to the wire, but I’ve yet to find any way to tell how much time I have left at a glance.

I was honestly shocked when I started playing 7 Elements. It’s a very overall polished match-3 game with enough twists to make it feel unique and keep it entertaining. Very entertaining, in fact.

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