Developer: Secret Exit Ltd.
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Categorized as a puzzle game, Zen Bound is unlike any puzzle game I’ve played on the iPhone, or any other platform for that matter. Developed by Secret Exit and published by Chillingo Ltd., Zen Bound unveils one of the most unique apps I have run across. It is a game, or rather an interactive experience, that involves virtual wood, stone, and rope while elegantly encompassing all the iPhone/iPod Touch is really capable of.
The user experience of Zen Bound is difficult to describe. Simply stating that the purpose of the game is to wrap wooden blocks shaped like animals with a length of rope understates the experience, but essentially that’s what you do. Various shaped animals including an elephant, snake, dog, bird, and so on, are attached to a specific length of rope. As you wrap the rope around the animal, the surface of the shape begins to fill in with color. Your objective is to wrap the shape and achieve a completeness of at least 70% in terms of how much coloring is accomplished.
As you achieve different levels of completeness, 70%, 85%, and 99%, you earn flowers — one for each objective. The more flowers you earn, the more shapes that become available. There is no pressure or frustration with the objectives, but the puzzle aspect stems from deciding how to wrap the shape in order to achieve the highest percentage of completion.
As for the technical aspects of Zen Bound, they completely hit the mark. The 3D graphics are top notch and the music, which is a 22-minute ambient, down-beat track compiled by Ghost Monkey, aptly suits the Zen part of the name. In fact, Zen Bound would still be intriguing without the music, but it complements it so well it would be a shame to play without stereo headphones. Lastly, the controls are impressive, intuitive, and natural. The touch interface, as well as the tilt, makes manipulating the shapes smooth and effortless.
If I had one complaint, it would be the way the level ends prematurely once the minimum 70% completion is achieved and your rope accidentally touches the end-level nail, a glowing nail that acts as your exit level button. However, the developer has already submitted an update to correct this very issue, which I assume will make it easier to continue wrapping towards 99% completion.
In all, Zen Bound provides a relaxing, intuitive, almost meditative game that is not only intriguing, but also intelligent, simple, and visually remarkable.
Watch the video of Zen Bound, or visit zenbound.comfor more information.