When I first saw Zen, I thought it was another accelerometer maze game. You know, tilt the phone to move the ball to the exit, avoiding obstacles, blah, blah, blah. I underestimated you, didn’t I, Zen?
In Zen, you must use waves to move the ball to the exit. Start a wave by tapping on one edge of the puzzle. Tap on the right edge, and a vertical wave will slowly move across from right to left, sweeping the ball along until it meets a solid object or a wave moving in the opposite direction. Each puzzle has a limited number of waves. You must plan a strategy to move the ball around objects and to the exit before running out of waves. Traps along the way will destroy the ball and send you back to the start.
Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s where it gets tricky. The exit is just wide enough for the ball, so you must position the ball exactly in line with it to solve the puzzle. In some puzzles, you must move the ball across the field with one wave and perfectly time a wave from the opposite side to stop the ball in line with the exit. It’s more difficult than it sounds, especially with traps and obstacles added.
The first few levels are easy, but, by level eight or nine, the game gets challenging quickly. The waves move slowly, and the higher you get, the more time each puzzle takes to solve. Make one tiny mistake, and you’ll run out of waves. You may find yourself staring at the same puzzle for quite some time. And Zen doesn’t allow you to skip levels. If you’re like me, you’ll stomp your phone into dust before you finish the game.
Zen is a fun and original concept, but I’d like to see a couple of improvements. First. let me skip levels or I will kill myself and my iPhone. Second, update with more mid-level difficulty puzzles, so I have more time to wrap my mind around the whole concept, before hitting me with the really frustrating puzzles. Last, the game is a bit unstable on my 3G. It crashes on launch about 40% of the time. When it launches successfully, the loading phase seems too long for such a visually simple game.
Change those little bits about this game, and I won’t hesitate to recommend it for $.99.
Presentation & Graphics
Zen looks like a game designed by a programmer. The graphics are sparse, but effective.
Again, the sound is nothing remarkable, but it works.
Zen is a solid concept. The only controls are taps on the side bars, and that works well enough. If you find that you’re not challenged enough by other point-to-point puzzle games like Toki Tori or Crystal Cave Classic, you might really get into Zen. Otherwise, this game gets too difficult too quickly.
Zen has 32 levels, which doesn’t sound like much, until you realize that A: Super Mario Brothers blew your mind with 32 levels, and B: Some levels will take you a really long time to solve. Unless the developer plans to add more levels in an update, I can’t see any significant replay value in Zen, but, at $.99, who cares?
Zen is an original puzzle game, but it doesn’t stand out among the crowd of $.99 games with much higher production values. Unless you’ve exhausted the top shelf puzzle games in the AppStore, or you’re looking for a really challenging puzzle game, pass on Zen.
Zen – Currently FREE as of this review!