One of the best games for 2009 was definitely Zen Bound. It brought a tactile, tranquil and unique gaming experience to the iPhone. I have been waiting for clones of Zen Bound since the release but there has been none so far. Perhaps it is harder to follow in the footsteps of Zen Bound than say doing another space shooter, tower defence game or an awful fart application. Now finally something comes along that has the same translucent and tactile feel as Zen Bound. It doesn’t in any way try to copy Zen Bound, and thankfully it can stand on its own even without you knowing anything about Zen Bound.
That game is Swirn, and just looking at the gameplay video found at www.zwirn-game.com blew me away. Sure a part of my first impression of the game was the excellent music found in the gameplay video, and sadly that music is not part of the released game. Actually I want that music on my iPod now, and if it could be included in the game that would really rocket the game towards the top of the App Store.
Zwirn is the German word for twine, and that is what the game is all about. You have to guide a twine to the goal while at the same time making sure it covers certain spots. Pins lets you make intricate knots, and these pins are movable. It might seem like a simple game but it really isn’t. Once you manage to connect the twine to the end, and cover the dark spots the game counts down for a couple of seconds. If your twine manages to cover the spots during the countdown you complete the level.
The controls are great, and it is easy to guide the twine with precision. At times it is hard to get the game to understand that I want to place a pin instead of moving the twine once it gets crowded. Other than that the game is really tactile, and a great way to spend your time. To get to the level selection screen you pinch out with your fingers. Already completed levels are available for replay. Other than that there is no real menu letting you adjust any aspect of the game. To me that is a big no no, and I hope a proper pause menu is included in future updates.
The sound effects are really sparse, and music is missing completely. You can play your own music while keeping the sound effects. Sound effects are really useful as the countdown is primarily made by clicking sounds that are easier to hear than seeing the darkening of the screen that is the visual hint. When I played Zwirn in muted mode I had a much harder time completing levels.
The graphics are top notch, and just like that other twine/rope game starting with a Z Zwirn goes for a realistic approach. The variety of surfaces used all look great no matter if it is wood, metal or stone. The twine itself looks like the real deal, and behaves in a truly amazing manner. If you play around too hard with the twine it will knot itself just like a real twine if you give it to a playful cat.
25 levels of increasingly hard challenges cater for hours of twining, and hopefully there is more to come. Zwirn would be a great game to let users create new levels in my opinion. There is no online functionality, high scores, achievements or unlockables. At the price asked I think it still gives you ample value for the two dollars.
Zwirn is a must have for any fan of tactile puzzles in the vein of Zen Bound. It is suitable both for the quick break, and the long train ride. It is the kind of game you can give to you grandma to play as it is so easy to understand. With updates such as time trial modes, online functionality, a proper menu, achievements and music Zwirn might become a five-star game. It took me by complete surprise, and blew my mind. Now I hope that it gains the recognition it deserves in the iPhone/iPod Touch community. Just buy it.
Seller: Bruno Meilick