Jewel Epic is a new Facebook game published by 6waves. It’s available now to play for free on the social network, and is presently showing up in the “Trending” section of Facebook’s App Center.
Jewel Epic is a “match-3″ puzzler of the Bejeweled school in which players work their way through a linear series of levels completing various objectives along the way. The game takes particularly heavy cues from King.com’s enormously successful Candy Crush Saga in terms of its structure by gradually introducing various different tasks for the player to complete in each level. Early levels simply require the player to attain at least one star’s worth of points by the time they have used all their moves; later levels have more challenging objectives such as clearing specific spaces on the level grid by matching gems atop them.
While Jewel Epic is a mostly very conventional match-3 experience, it does at least provide a few small twists on the formula that help distinguish it from its numerous imitators in the social and mobile gaming sectors. Chief among these is the “color combo” system in which making consecutive matches of the same color rewards the player with various powerups that are dropped onto the grid and generally make clearing large areas much easier. Other variations include the “magic ball” system, in which matching gems with special markers on them fill the aforementioned globe, which may be used to eliminate a large number of gems on the grid when filled. The usual match-3 mechanic of creating powerups by matching four or more gems at once has been replaced by the creation of jewels that fill the magic ball more quickly, since powerups are generated by color combos.
The game’s levels are split into a number of themed “areas,” each of which has its own mascot character. These mascots each have their own selection of powerups to provide the player with upon the creation of color combos, and can be leveled up by collecting particular numbers of stars. Each mascot has three possible levels, increasing the player’s score multiplier and allowing them to attain higher scores each time. The mascots appear while the player is challenging a level, and start dancing on the screen when the magic ball is full, drawing attention to this rather easy-to-forget mechanic.
Social features for the game include the usual leaderboards for each level as well as a friend gate (optionally bypassable with hard currency) at the end of each area. Players are also incentivized to invite friends with soft and hard currency rewards for up to 15 successful referrals.
The game monetizes through the sale of hard and soft currency. Soft currency is used to activate various boosters before the level begins such as packages of additional moves or score boosters, while hard currency is used to restore the player’s lives stock, increase its maximum, or activate various borderline game-breakingly powerful powerups during a level. Not all of these powerups are available immediately — they are introduced at various predefined points in the game, and the player always has the opportunity to try them out once for free. One thing worth noting about both the soft and hard currency powerups is that the game never asks for confirmation when taking payment from the player’s stock of currency — and there does not seem to be a way of cancelling a purchase once it has been made. This means that careless or accidental clicks can easily result in the player depleting their stocks of in-game currency much more quickly than they intend, which feels like rather poor design from a player-friendliness perspective.
This issue aside, Jewel Epic is a decent quality match-3 puzzler, but therein also lies part of the problem with it — it’s yet another entry in a crowded genre that does relatively little to distinguish itself from its numerous rivals. It may have good presentation and a few twists on the usual formula, but ultimately it’s still yet another Bejeweled-inspired puzzle game in a marketplace already saturated with Bejeweled-inspired puzzle games. It’s time social games moved on to some new formulas rather than endlessly recycling the same ones. While at present it seems players are still happy to play these numerous almost-identical experiences, there will come a point when the audience tires of constantly being confronted with the same old mechanics — and when that day comes, developers had better ensure they have some original ideas ready to roll out.
Jewel Epic currently occupies the 1,000,000+ MAU tier with a rank of 349 and an estimated MAU figure of 1,036,182, and the 100,000+ DAU tier with a rank of 320 and an estimated DAU figure of 164,919. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
It’s a good match-3 puzzler growing in popularity… but it’s still just another match-3 puzzler.