Color Zen: Take Time to Meditate in This Gorgeous Game

I’m pretty tired of flinging birds across my iPad screen and becoming frustrated or annoyed at the results. I’m tired of playing those addictive little games that are only addictive because I’m trying to accomplish a meaningless goal. I really need less of that in my life.

What I could use more of is a game that’s about taking a few breaths and calming down just a little bit. Color Zen is just such a game — one that gives me space to relax while still engaging my mind. Can a meditative puzzler like that hold my attention for more than a few minutes?

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Color Me Zen

You’ll start with shapes of different sizes and color. Combine the shapes until you’ve filled the screen with a single color. It’s a pretty simple concept, but you’ll have to be constantly aware of the different colors left on the board. You’re trying to match everything up to whatever border color you start off with, and that can’t be changed, so if you end up with a blue screen surrounded by an orange band, you’ve lost the round.

Combine the colored shapes to fill the screen.

Combine the colored shapes to fill the screen.

Pay close attention to all of the shapes you’re moving around the screen, too. Even if you finish up with a matching pink field and border, a stray orange block careening around the board is going to ruin your win. It’s easy enough to get stuck, as shapes will be locked inside larger shapes. Free interior blocks by flinging them into shapes of similar exterior color.

Not all blocks can be moved, though. It’s fairly intuitive to begin, as you’ll find you can move the smaller shapes but larger objects are stationary. Shift the big guys by changing the color of the board and consuming them, but it’s not long before you realize you can’t so easily combine even smaller shapes. Some will slide across the screen easily enough, and you’ll be able to tell these by a sort of pulsing movement, but others will just sit there in your way. Now your objective is not only to combine shapes, but also to prevent shapes from bumping into each other too soon while you create a path for your triangle, circles, and squares.

Unlock new levels as you move through the chapters.

Unlock new levels as you move through the chapters.

As you move further into Color Zen, the game starts throwing new colors at you. I’m not just talking lots more colors on the board, though that certainly happens. No, I mean that you get entirely new colors that behave in new and weird ways. White shapes are sort of like wild cards: they’ll match up with any other color. Black shapes, on the other hand, destroy anything they touch, handy for a shape or color that’s in your way. Double-tap on dotted objects to freeze them in place, but make sure that’s what you want, because there’s no undo.

You’re a Natural

There are a fair number of levels in Color Zen, but it’s not hard to power through them pretty quickly, especially in a game as addictive as this one. There’s some challenge as you move ahead, though, so you may be in shape-flinging fun for a while. If you’re not, there are 100 additional levels to download. They’re not free, but that’s a nice chunk of extra play time.

The nature levels are particularly striking.

The nature levels are particularly striking.

The in-app purchase levels are themed. They’re all supposed to be reminiscent of nature, but this is a really abstract interpretation of nature. Still, they’re pretty to look at, and they give you a bit of a change from the standard levels that come with Color Zen. If you really dig the game, it may be worth it to go ahead and spring for the extra levels even before you run out of stuff to do, just to mix things up a bit.

It’s About the Look

Color Zen is a game for the senses, and that’s not incredibly surprising given its name. It’s easy to get lost in the colors and sounds, and the experience is almost meditative. I found that as I moved further into Color Zen and got into the harder levels, I actually made fewer mistakes and passed through each round more quickly. I attributed this to the, yes, zen-like feel of Color Zen.

Later levels are more complex and more beautiful.

Later levels are more complex and more beautiful.

The colors and shapes are hypnotic, and the more I played, the less I thought about each move. Sliding the shapes around the screen became second nature. All the while, Color Zen’s soothing music played in the background, lulling me deeping into the game’s world. The music is reminiscent of water dripping, and has a soothing quality. While it’s not required, this is a game best played with headphones, so as to shut out all distractions.

Final Thoughts

It’s down to the smooth graphics and sound in Color Zen, and it’s incredibly satisfying to watch as your final color consumes the board. The bonus levels may be even better-looking, but those are only available through an in-app purchase. While I wanted to get into those nature levels early, you can certainly happily slide around in the included levels for a long time to come.

Color Zen is a great game for relaxing. There’s not a whole lot of challenge, even as you get to more difficult levels and find yourself trying to puzzle out exactly how to get the screen to turn the correct color, but that’s okay. Sometimes it’s okay for a game to be less than frustrating, for a game to calm rather than confound.


Summary

Soothing color puzzler with a hypnotic soundtrack.

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