When it rains, it pours. The number of wannabe match-three puzzlers is enough to make anyone's disposition soggy, but Drop7 casts a ray of sunshine on a flooded genre.
You start with a 7x7 grid onto which you place discs numbered 1 to 7. Like in any block-dropping puzzler, the goal is to clear discs from the board by matching the number on the discs with the number of discs in the column or row in which you place it.
For example, clearing a disc with the number '6' emblazoned upon it means putting it on top of a column containing five other discs. Alternatively, you can position it to make a row of 6. As long as the number of discs in the line that the discs is in matches the stated number, it disappears from the grid.
This is where Drop7 gains depth, since a simple disc drop can lead to a clearance cascade with discs disappearing from the board as the number quotas are met.
You're not pressured by time: there's no clock and each new disc sits at the top of the screen, patiently awaiting placement. This ensures ample time to plan each move carefully.
There's a cloud, though. Aptly-coloured gray discs cannot be cleared from the board. While they help clear other discs by adding to the total number of discs on the grid, the number inside has to be cracked before the disc itself can be cleared.
Clearing an adjacent disc cracks a gray disc once, so doing this succession is necessary. Learning how to place these troublemakers is among the game's primary lessons.
Drop7 doesn't just throw softballs, though: it increases the difficulty with each passing level.
Lining the bottom of the grid is a gauge counting down the number of discs to be played until the next level. When enough discs have been placed on the board, you go up a level and a line of gray discs pushes up from the bottom of the grid. Game over if any disc tops the grid.
The game's three modes - Normal, Hardcore, and Sequence - follow these basic rules albeit with variation. Hardcore eliminates the appearance of gray disc at the top of the screen, while Sequence always provides the same order of discs.
The differences are negligible. Drop7 therefore runs into a problem with its value given the similarities of its three modes. Online scoreboards or even some form of multiplayer (players could take turns placing discs to earn points) would extend its appeal.
Everything else about Drop7 has been carefully conceived, resulting in an appropriate mix of chance and skill. While you can't predict what discs will be thrown your way, you can always manipulate them with sheer cleverness to survive.
This is among the most innovative puzzle games and it introduces its new gameplay in a surprisingly digestible way. It isn't bizarre or complex; instead, it's highly accessible and fun to play.
It helps that the presentation embodies this same slick spirit. The solid colours marking each number combine with a layered electronic soundtrack for a soothing vibe.Drop7 would play just as well without it, but the quality of its presentation underlines the game's superb design. While it could stand enhancement in the realm of value, this is a game worth dropping some money on.