Zen Bound 2 Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • Over 100 levels
  • (3 more, see all...)

Zen Bound 2 is a game that is hard to explain to other people. You can’t really describe the gameplay mechanism without sounding a little sadistic. Nevertheless, Zen Bound 2 is one of the most interesting games to be found on the Linux platform and probably on any other platform, for that matter. 

Zen Bound 2 is the very definition of an indie game. Secret Exit, the developers of Zen Bound 2, initially released the game through the App Store, for the Mac OS X platform, back in 2009. A year later, it became available through the Ovi Store and for the PC platforms.

A Linux port was done with the occasion of Humble Bundle for Android 2, a collection of games that encompass a lot of interesting other titles: Cogs, Avadon: The Black Fortress, Swords and Soldiers, and Canabalt.

Installation

We have acquired Zen Bound 2 with the latest Humble Bundle, more precisely Humble Bundle for Android 2. To our surprise, the developers were kind enough to provide binaries, .deb, and .sh files, for both 32 and 64-bit architectures.

Users will have no problem installing the game, but keep in mind that they are not providing the source package, so you cannot compile it.

Gameplay

A game promoting a concept that was never used before, usually spawns an entire new genre, but I highly doubt that there will be many wooden piece rope binding variants waiting to be released.

The principle is simple. The player must wrap around a wooden piece with a small rope, in certain conditions. The rope will color the wooden piece, to a certain degree and the final object of a level is to pass a certain percentage of the piece covered.

There are some requirements though. Firstly, the rope has a finite length, so the players must use what is available wisely and not squander it with complicated contortions and strategies. The simpler the binding, the better it will be.

Many gamers will think that the first levels are way too simple, but there will be some serious challenges once they get to the intermediate stages.

The game also provides some levels of variation. Every puzzle must end with wrapping the rope around a final iron nail. The players need to be careful, to avoid it, until it’s necessary. A single touch of that nail and the rope snaps, and you will have to start all over again.

Also, every piece can be unbound if players feel they could have done something different,and there is no penalty for doing so. Some pieces will even present multiple nails, which have at their top an ample reserve of paint, which will spread over a bigger surface, if used, or the rope already comes with paint and helps the player to get a bigger covered percentage.

Every puzzle solved will yield a certain number of flowers, and the total number of flowers the player earns will help unlock the later levels and consequently the harder ones.

The Bad

The game has only two problems and one of them is inherent to all 3D games that will require a control interface in two dimensions. Maybe the game controls better on a touch surface where players can use multiple finger and not just a mouse, but I doubt that.

It will be practically impossible sometimes to get the rope in certain angles because of this control problem. We can’t really hold it against them, but it’s a problem nonetheless. I can see the game running just fine with Falcon Haptic Arm.

The second problem I would like to mention here is the lack of variability. The shapes are really different and interesting, I grant them that, but there is little variation to speak of. A timer could have been most interesting, adding a secondary level of difficulty and competitiveness.

The Good

Zen Bound 2 is not a usual game and there are no comparisons that can be made. The only exceptions could be made with other weird and interesting indie type games, but it’s refreshing to experience something completely new from time to time.

Conclusion

I don't have a problem with new game types, although many of them are just rehashing of old concepts with a new coat of paint. We rarely see these days something truly innovating or something that is not standing on the shoulder of other giants.

Zen Bound 2 is a monument to the human imagination and expresses the hope of people who understand that entertainment is much more than a casual occupation.

user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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