I recently bought the game Zen Bound for my iPhone, which has been the subject of much gushing praise amongst various review sites recently, and has been collecting a few awards too. Here’s my take on the game.
The basic idea of the game is simple: You wrap various 3D wooden and metal shapes in a rope of limited length. The rope “paints” the shape where it touches it. When enough of the shape is painted you get a dot; paint even more and you get two; paint 99% of the shape and you get the full complement of three dots:
There are two trees: the Tree of Reflection (mainly animal shapes) and the Tree of Challenge (geometric shapes). Each tree has plenty of puzzles to keep you busy (I haven’t made it to the top of either tree yet), and the fact that you need to score well on early levels in order to move onto higher levels adds an element of challenge to the game.
Great use of the iPhone
Although touted by some as an original concept, it’s actually derived from the free PC game Zen Bondage (ooo-er). Having said that, it does make really nice use of the iPhone’s touch screen and tilt controls to provide a very realistic experience. For example, you can use touch gestures to rotate the object easily in all directions, and control the angle of the rope by tilting the phone. What’s more, tilting the phone in the “tree” views actually tilts the lanterns and blocks hanging from the tree, which really adds to the realism:
The game is beautiful to look at and the soundtrack – available as an MP3 download to purchasers of the game – is polished and suitably laid back.
Bound to impress
While it is beautifully executed, at the end of the day Zen Bound is a simple, meditative puzzle game. If you like the genre then you’ll love Zen Bound. If not then you’ll probably tire of the game pretty quickly once the novelty value has worn off. Personally I still find myself enjoying the odd game a few weeks after first playing it, so I’m getting my money’s worth.