It’s often said that there’s nothing new under the sun. I don’t believe that — and neither, it seems, does the development team behind Jewel Quest: Seven Seas. As the latest entry in a match-3 series that dates back more than a decade, you might think that there’s very little left to be accomplished. But thanks to the addition of a few new mechanics, the seventh game in the main Jewel Quest series ends up feeling just as fresh as the first.

Like previous entries, there’s a thin story that’s strings together a huge number of match-3 puzzles. Series protagonists Emma and Rupert Pack are back again, this time regaling their daughter with tales of the time they set off across the sea after receiving a message that the Jewel Boards were in trouble.

Jewel Quest Seven Seas Review

It’s a simple narrative told in bite-sized chunks, and while serviceable, it’s ultimately not why you’re playing Jewel Quest: Seven Seas. You’re here for the puzzles.

With 120 puzzles in all, Seven Seas won’t leave you wanting for content. Much of what fans of the series have come to expect is here, from objectives that require you to turn tiles gold, to the ability to make matches while combos are still a-bustin’. Jewel Quest’s past has clearly informed Seven Seas design, but plenty of new elements have been added to make this game very much its own.

Keeping with the nautical theme, one of the biggest additions in Seven Seas is a new power-up: the Ship Wheel. You’ll create one by matching four like-colored gems — which will happen frequently — and can use the wheel to clear the gems in any of four directions. Swipe left, the gems to the left in its row will be obliterated. Swipe up, the gems above it will disappear.

Jewel Quest Seven Seas Review

Hitting one ship wheel with another will cause it to shoot out in two directions, clearing that much more of the board. Because of this, a few well placed Wheels can make the whole screen come to live with a single swipe.

Again embracing the nautical nature of Seven Seas, we’ve also seen the addition of the Ship’s Bell. This is a new obstacle that appears on some levels, and is usually part of a level’s completion requirement. You can ring it by sending a Ship Wheel through it, and you’ll sometimes be asked to do that X number of times to proceed.

Seven Seas offers a variety of objectives that vary level by level, and can sometimes be stacked to really keep you on your toes. So while one level might ask you to ring three Ship Bells, and another might ask you to turn all of the tiles gold, a third might ask you to do both and to complete the stage in less than two minutes.

To put it politely, Jewel Quest: Seven Seas isn’t always a cake walk.

Jewel Quest Seven Seas Review

Nothing is ever unsolvable, but some levels can get really tricky, and the solution might not dawn on you until you’ve taken a few tries. In one early level, for example, I have 30 moves to turn all of the times gold — but due to the layout, I really needed to focus all of my efforts (and Ship Wheels) on clearing out the peculiar bottom row first. Had I not stepped back to think about where I was going wrong, it would have likely taken a dozen or more tries before I dumb-lucked my way into a solution.

Other new elements make their way into the game too, and some even manage to pull double duty as both obstacle and assistance. Take the Void, for example — a swirly black hole that eats any jewel that gets swiped into it. These may create a pesky barrier when trying to make a match, but they can also provide an easy way to dispose of crummy gems near it, allowing you to create matches that would have otherwise been impossible. On a level with a short time limit, Voids can be an absolute godsend.

Jewel Quest Seven Seas Review

The only real complaint to be had is that, when you need to do multiple objectives including turning all tiles gold, it can be all too easy to lose your way and not notice an unflipped tile. Jewel Quest: Seven Seas does its best to keep you informed so this won’t happen, offering a counter of remaining tiles and a way to remove gems to see board underneath — but even with these, it’s all to easy to get lost in the moment and think you only have two tiles left to flip when there are really three.

In addition to traditional match-3 puzzle boards, there are also Collapse-style puzzle boards which respond simply by tapping a tile with two or more like colored tiles connected to it. Modern mobile players may recognize this from Pet Rescue Saga, but Collapse-style matching has had a long and storied history (starting with — you guessed it — Collapse).

Jewel Quest Seven Seas Review

Jewel Quest: Seven Seas is a hard game to be critical about. It’s another entry in a well-loved franchise, but it doesn’t rest on its laurels, instead opting to add plenty of new twists to give long-time fans something fresh. And those new twists are a great fit. Yes, the story is a little feeble. And yes, I would have preferred some options in the PC version to let me select my graphics resolution (things looked a little “less than HD” on my 1920×1080 desktop), but these are ultimately nitpicks. The gameplay is what you’ll be interested in here, and it excels. This is a match-3 game for match-3 gamers. If you count yourself among them, Jewel Quest: Seven Seas is well worth a play.

Jewel Quest Seven Seas was published by iWin, who also own Gamezebo. iWin did not contribute or otherwise have any input into the content of the article.