Zen Bound review: A relaxing iPhone puzzle game

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:

The number of dots you get determines how many flowers will open on the tree you’re currently moving up. You need a certain number of open flowers to move up to the next level of the tree.

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.

Rating: 4/5

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11 Responses to “Zen Bound review: A relaxing iPhone puzzle game”

  1. f01re Says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this. What an excellent game. Definitely feels like the next generation of iphone games.

    btw there’s a free lite demo of it now in case anyone is still unsure…

  2. Matt Says:

    So there is – good find!

    It’s a cool game – glad you like it 🙂

  3. A!e% Says:

    Great thing! Thanks for the tip.
    My own last-and-most impressive app was Appl-o-Meter. There’s so many interesting things in App Store… I simply don’t have so much time to look through them all.

  4. Matt Says:

    @A!e%: Appl-o-Meter looks interesting – is it accurate?

  5. A!e% Says:

    Well, depends on your experience. Authors tell us about less than 5% inaccuracy. I tried to measure apple keyboard. I’ve got 11.1 in. Then I look in the internet and find out that it is precisely 11.1 inches.

    But another time I’ve got an inch error on 10 inches measurement.

    If the surface is slick — accuracy may be bad. But if it’s kind of normal (paper, not polished wood) or you’ve trained a little — it is rather accurate.

    But it’s fun isn’t it? I’ve a kid, he measured every thing in the house just to get that little man walk, run, slide…

  6. Matt Says:

    @A!e%: That does sound fun, I might give it a go. I’m always looking for apps to entertain the toddler too. Thanks!

  7. A!e% Says:

    Hope you’ll like it. I’ve sent a message to authors with some thoughts about it. They promised, that there’d be more even more things in several weeks. Can’t wait.

  8. Okey Oyunu Says:

    thank you for this article. i like puzzle games 🙂 very good 🙂

  9. Dan Russell-Pinson Says:

    Another very relaxing puzzle game for the iPhone is Block Drop. It has beautiful graphics and quiet, peaceful music. You can download Block Drop Lite for free.

  10. Matt Says:

    @Dan: I like your game! Very relaxing, and the dynamic music is really nicely done. Good work. 🙂

  11. Adam Says:

    There is an app called Kyumi Puzzle which is also quite relaxing.