App Army Assemble: Seven Scrolls - Don't judge a scroll by the quality of its parchment

The App Army give their thoughts

App Army Assemble: Seven Scrolls - Don't judge a scroll by the quality of its parchment

Seven Scrolls is a deceptive game. On the surface, it appears to be incredibly simple and its unassuming art style adds further weight to that impression. But once you've played the game a short amount of time you realise it's much more in-depth than you'd be expected. We sent our own App Army in to find out if this surprising depth makes for a good game.

Here's what they said:

Jojó Reis

A very simple and intuitive game, this is the kind of game that does its combat by turns, all very simple and is good fun for those who like this style. It has a cool soundtrack that completes the package of this game that will bring you fun in your spare time and especially when you are in line at a bank or something. The matches are fast and require a lot of thinking to pass the stages.

Paul Manchester

Simple, frustrating, addictive. If ever there is a game to illustrate that ‘just one more go’ addiction this is it. As some of the best titles, this game takes a matter of minutes to learn but will take a long time to master, with each run combing a mix of luck and skill. I do find that the game can be unnecessarily evil with the scrolls it randomly generates at first which can lead to some very short-lived runs but guess that’s the nature of the beast.

It would also be nice to see some bonus effects that can be carried from game to game rather than just over rounds to give some feeling of progression. But overall despite these small criticisms, it’s great and I’m going back for another ‘quick’ go... Recommended.

Ed Davis

A highly addictive game. You play the role of a monk (with some weird powers) in a roguelike game with randomly generated enemies. You must kill said enemies to obtain keys to move into the next room whilst collecting scrolls that trigger different things during the game.

You may be dealt with a bad hand of scrolls that hinder your gameplay or one that helps you defeat enemies. The art style is simple but is enjoyable and shows that you don’t need amazing graphics to create a game with high replayability.

Brian Wigington

At first glance, the game seems like a very simplified roguelike/lite with an easy swipe to move or attack scheme. Upon replays of the game one soon realizes that a deeper strategy is involved as you acquire scrolls with various abilities, both positive and negative. You have to adjust your playing tactics to adapt to effects such as when a monster is killed it becomes a ghost, or can travel through walls, or it shoots to the right.

Many effects can be used to your advantage such as the player healing after exiting the level. The battles and movement are turn-based and you start to think about where the monsters will move as you carefully choose your moves. Attacking a monster as it moves towards you from several squares away helps you to get hit less often. Which scroll you collected is actually in play changes the dynamic of the game and keeps it interesting as you kill monsters to obtain the key and exit the level.

The game is great for playing in short bursts as the levels are compact and the scrolls you collect keep the game fresh. Being at home with the current state of affairs makes me go to this game for many short sessions as I try to improve my score and survive through more levels. The game is worth the asking price as long as you dig a bit deeper and play a few rounds to see it's strategy.

Glenn Goldberg

Simple graphics and sounds will fool you into thinking the game itself is simple. Swipe to move, swipe to attack. Poke to use spells...what could be easier? By the 5th time you die, you realize there is a MUCH deeper game here. Equal parts addictive and frustrating, this is a strategy game at its best...garbage stripped away and the shining centre left for you to chew on.

Kill the enemies to obtain the tools to progress farther in the game. Keys, lives, and scrolls are all there taunting you...is the risk worth the reward? As the screen gets more crowded, the game gets harder to play, trying to figure out if you can grab that key and escape before something slugs you. Pac-man like tunnels add an extra layer of strategy. This game is definitely on the “just one more round” list.

Mark Abukoff

A game that is very basic and simple in its graphics and gameplay can be a winner if it’s interesting enough, and Seven Scrolls nails that effectively. The graphics are very simple and plain, and my first reaction was not enthusiastic. But the whole package is a winner. A small map, simple and workable controls. Brief and effective instructions. The different types of scrolls resulting in different results, some helpful and some just the opposite. All of this adds up to an addictive game that can be played in short spurts but still challenges your patience and creativity.

Rohit Bhatia

This game reminds me of Imbroglio because of its graphics and art. But it is a different game all in all. I wasn't expecting this game to pressure me to come back to it often but I have completely stumped by it. So it works as you are in a dungeon and you are given scrolls that will affect your gameplay, you can carry Seven at a time and the scrolls always define how you play the game.

You have kill monsters and go deeper into the dungeon and it's endless I think. You can delete the scrolls if you think they are going to hamper your chances on winning but a price will be paid. The controls are pretty simple - swipe to move and swipe to also attack, simple and works great. It's so addictive that it has that one more turn feeling because when you start playing you will die a lot and I am not even kidding.

It's frustrating at first but after a while, you see a different layer and another and another and so on.....it's very strategic and it's very deep and it will make you think before you make a move and you will fall love with it because of its high score chasing as you want to play more to break your high score. It's very hard, there are various strategies to get higher scores with. One time you can go for a high score but when monsters surround you it's gonna be bad. I will highly recommend this if you are into turn-based dungeon crawlers.

Nick Leibbrandt

The game itself is actually very fun and addictive but it can also be very frustrating when you first start because you die a lot, but once you get used to the whole idea behind the game and how it works it becomes clear that it is a very clever game and makes you plan and think about your next move.

You move your character around with simple side swipe controls and collect scrolls which have different effects on the game, some help you out and some hamper your efforts, collecting keys to move to the next level and life tokens to survive and see how far you can progress. The game is simple but well designed and works well I recommend giving it a try if its the sort of game you're interested in.

Matt ARen

Seven Scrolls is a classic style of puzzler, in which each move you make draws obstacles closer to you. In this case, those obstacles are monsters and your monk is capable of combat when directly across from a monster. You must defeat the monster that is hiding the key in each room to advance.

Graphically the game is very simple, with minimal animation. However, the art style is very unique and the muted colour palette lends to the feeling of progressing through a dungeon. The music is catchy in a minimalist way but very enjoyable with enough sound effects to punctuate what’s happening on screen. The gameplay is handled by very simple swipe controls.

What makes Seven Scrolls stand out are the titular scrolls. Each level will present you the chance to get one or more scrolls. Each scroll has a different spell effect that is activated by the events on screen, or single forced use. The key to success in this game is utilizing these spells.

The spells add an interesting wrinkle to what could be an overly simplistic game. Overall, I’d recommend Seven Scrolls to anyone who enjoys the type of puzzle game that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. It’s good for a five-minute time waster and extended playing sessions alike.

Jt Hernandez

A simple looking turn-based dungeon crawler strategy game, along the lines of Hoplite and Auro. Controls are simple, just swipe and you'll either move or attack a monster in that direction. Monsters with 1-3 hearts appear and will, turn-by-turn, approach and attack you. When monsters die, they may randomly drop a heart to heal you, a key to unlock to the level exit, or a scroll with help or hinder you.

The unique gameplay mechanism here is the scrolls. You might get a scroll that kills a monster when the monk gets hurt, but you might get a scroll that hurts the monk every time a monster is killed. With 7 triggers and 21 effects that could be applied to either your monk or a random monster, you never know what is kind of scroll you'll end up getting.

You can collect up to 7 scrolls, and supposedly there are only seven levels of the game. The gameplay is pretty quick, challenging, and both addictive and frustrating, thanks to the randomness of the scrolls. So far, my high score is only 73, but I have to keep trying. Before long, I might be as bald as the monk.

Jt later returned with an improved high score: 

I finally beat level 7 with a new best score 129. It's on to round 2! More fun stuff to discover.

Oksana Ryan

I love this game. It makes you think through your movements and gives lots of ways to move forward and defeat enemies. The background music and sound effects are fit for purpose and the graphics are plain but adequate.

Scrolls with various objectives help you defeat enemies and navigate to the next levels, which can be very rewarding when you have several scrolls working together. It makes you concentrate on your next move but you can never predict what might come next.

There’s not a great deal to the game but there doesn’t need to be. It’s simple to play and great fun. I’d definitely recommend it.

Dries Pretorius

As you fire up Seven Scrolls, there are two credits: the sound design by Jake Almond, which is great, with soft Gregorian chanting on the menu and soft ambient sounds under footsteps on cobbles as your purple monk navigates the 5x5 grid. Be wary of the three basic enemies and four special enemies who spawn at shorter increments as you navigate to end of the level on the 7th floor.

When reaching it you keep one of 7 scroll slots for your next journey of 7 floors. Every type of enemy has a drop chance, the weakest ‘Little Demon’ has a 1/3 chance to drop health, the strongest, an angry chicken drops the key you need to exit level. Between them ‘Bear Head’ drops scrolls, every level also has a scroll on it. Scrolls consist of ‘If-Then’ functions generated from a pool of targets, conditions and effects.

A scroll can be helpful or harmful, and the sheer range of obscure effects can compound in a variety of interesting and unexpected chain reactions. The aim is to hold onto powerful effects while burning harmful scrolls in ways that minimize risk. Burning executes a scroll’s function even when the conditions for activation are not met, destroying it. When you have a powerful synergy going and the room erupts into destructive chaos every time you heal or fulfil a condition, it really feels like a powerful deity lending its power to a devout vessel.

The second credit reads ‘Inspired by Michael Brough’. The father of a genre, this grid-based chess-like abstraction of the roguelike was carved into the genre with Brough’s phenomenal 868-Hack, but the game that Seven Scrolls is really inspired by is Cinco Paus (Five Wands), the obscure follow up to Brough’s Opus: Imbroglio. Cinco Paus is a Portuguese language game (no localization for Intentional obscurity) where you have, on a similar grid of 5x5, a blue Wizzard who wields 5 wands, each with 5 secret powers which you only learn when casting the wand on the right conditions.

When you learn all the powers of all the wands, they reset with new mysterious powers. In Cinco Paus, you have at best, a brief slice of powerful magic to cast once per level. In Seven Scrolls that same magic exists, the way you draw from it is where the differences lie. Seven Scrolls is the perfect companion to Cinco Paus, they explore order and chaos through their contrasting models of magic. A terrific title and a worthy addition to one of my favourite genres in mobile gaming.

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Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.