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Life can be stressful, no matter how old you are or what you do. Everyone deals with a bit of stress here and there, some more so than others. Being stressed can be harmful to your health and obviously we want to do our best to eliminate it from our life. Zen Bound 2 can do just that for you.
Its a meditative puzzle game that can help you feel the true Zen power, or at least make you more relaxed. Hit the more button to learn about this fun game.
From the get go you’ll see that there’s very little about this app that is native. The design is very custom and fitting for an app that hopes to relax you. There is a list of different “Trees,” which are essentially the different level groups, and behind that you have a large tree with some foliage (just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, this app has a fair amount of nature in it).
Tapping on the Tree of Introduction will take you to your first levels. You’re presented with wooden tags hanging from this so called introduction tree. At first, it’s not immediately obvious what to do, so I tried tapping the biggest thing I could see — a lantern — and was promptly informed of my mistake. Once you’ve realised what’s going on, you can then notice how tranquil the setting is — butterflies fluttering around your tree and the leaves floating in the wind. You can manipulate the tree and move up and down it, but the first level starts at the bottom and you make your way up, unlocking new Tags as you complete the levels.
Playing this game is unlike any app I’ve ever played on my iPad. The idea is to cover your wooden doll in paint, and you do this by wrapping it in rope — sounds crazy right? The rope is attached to the doll and you have to cover as much of it in paint as you can with a limited amount of rope, the less you use the better. The rope acts as a paintbrush, so if it comes in contact with wood, it splashes some paint on it. There are sometimes special features that can be found on nails or sometimes the rope itself, such as blobs of paint that will explode upon impact. There’s also the relief that if something goes wrong you can always unwind the rope and try another way.
The gameplay is physics based and done very well. You can move the doll around 360 degrees and by doing so you can aim to get the rope to wrap around as much of the doll as possible, using the shape of the doll and sometimes nails that protrude out of it to your advantage. Something that I didn’t immediately discover was that you can tilt your iPad to adjust where the rope comes from, which is very helpful when it comes to tricky situations.
There are a maximum of three flowers that can be obtained during the level, each represent a certain amount of the doll covered in paint. You get notified once you’ve reached one of these flowers, and once you have reached the first flower you can then finish the level by touching the rope on the glowing white nail, or you can continue and try to reach that third flower.
A feature that helps you maintain a relaxed state while playing is that there’s no time limit, meaning this game allows you to think about the best strategy rather than frantically spinning rope around a doll. Throughout the app there is also a very mellow soundtrack in the background that is soothing to the ear, once again adding to the calmness found from playing the game. You can change the music or mute it as you would expect, but I certainly don’t have any music this peaceful in my iTunes library.
As you would expect, the more flowers you get, the more trees you unlock, and you can keep going until you have completed all ten trees with three flowers on each level. The levels get more challenging as you progress, with more difficult shapes and less rope, but overall the game changes little as you advance from tree to tree. Throughout the game you can collect achievements as well, which act as another reward scheme to encourage you to not only play more, but to use logic in order to get them.
Room for improvement
As I previously mentioned, there is not really much change between the 10 different trees and ultimately you may find yourself, like I did, tired of doing the same things over and over. However, you have to consider what the app is meant to do, and it’s primarily aimed to provide a peaceful and stress-free way to play a game and take some time off. If you think about it like that, then it’s unlikely to be an app you’ll be playing with for hours at an end, but one you play for fifteen minutes perhaps and then put it down for a few more hours. This could make the repetitive nature much less of a problem.
Another issue I have with the app is it’s navigation — it sucks. As I pointed out previously, it’s not inherently obvious within the trees how to get to the levels, but fortunately there are hints for when you get it wrong. My main navigational concern is that it seems to often require more taps than necessary. You always have to tap the Menu tab to bring up the option of where you want to go, making two steps out of a potential one — not to mention the fact that the button is quite small. I often missed it and ended up opening a new level — often!
Overall, Zen Bound 2 is a nice app with some decent graphics and a totally new idea. It’s effective — for the most part — at relaxing you while you play some games, and the whole experience is pretty soothing. However, gameplay can get repeitive and you’ll likely find yourself desperate to reach three flowers on all the levels, like you might with Angry Birds.
If you think you might enjoy a game where you have time to think and plan about your move, then I would recommend this game to you. At $2.99, even if you’re not sure, it’s unlikely that you will regret buying it. It really shows the great creativity of iOS developers and it pushes what you can expect from your iPad.