Elemental is already going for a lot of different things. I really like how the RPG elements are being added into play. Families are a nice, intuitive addition. As for building my cities and the different structures, this requires a good deal of thinking in a good way; there is a noticeable pattern which will most likely become clearer as the game gets polished. With the critters that spam all over the map, most of them need to get nerfed 'cause it really sucks for my Sovereign and quests getting botched due to frequent critter encounters at the early stages.
Research is what really got my spider sense tingling. Mind you that I haven't been that immersed into the BETA tests and don't particularly like to dig deep into stats and number crunching. Being more of a casual gamer, I am more or less in the role of a noob that buys the game and gets to play it for the first time.
Research as it is doesn't feel 'right' to me. I don't mind different but I do mind about being confusing, counter-intuitive, frustrating... I've been reading a lot of talk and a lot of effort from testers into this area of the game. I like the ideas of a clearer tech tree, allowing multiple research, and simplify research for similar resources. But maybe this is simply something that could use a more conventional approach.