For the most part, Cradle of Rome looks like a Bejeweled or Jewel Quest clone. You will have a wide variety of pieces that you will flip around the board and, for the most part, they look unique enough to keep you from getting confused. There are a few pieces that look close enough alike to waste the occasional second by switching the wrong tiles. Between levels, you have the opportunity to buy various structures for your growing civilization, and the artwork for those purchases also works pretty well.
While sound isn't always a vital part of puzzle games, Cradle of Rome does an adequate job with its own mix of swooshing sounds when swapping tiles and low-key background music. But the sound does just that, it stays in the background and doesn't get in the way. Cradle of Rome can be played just as well with the volume turned off or it blaring in your ear phones.