Zen Bound 2

Our Review by Kevin Stout on May 4th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: PLEASANT
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Great music and slow-paced gameplay in this meditative game.

Developer: Secret Exit
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 2.2.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

When I saw the first iteration of this game, I scanned through the pictures and reviews and wondered why it was so popular. It’s just wrapping a rope around various wooden sculptures, right? That’s what I decided, and so I never got around to playing it. When Zen Bound 2 was released and I decided to discover what was going on.

My first reaction of the game wasn’t far off; it really does consist of wrapping a rope around various wooden objects. But I found out that it’s impossible to judge the gameplay experience of these apps just by their pictures.

So what are the specifics of this rope wrapping game? The rope is actually “painting” the wooden object. When the rope is in contact with the object, paint shows up in an area a bit bigger than the rope itself. The goal now becomes clear: attempt to paint as much of the object as possible. Similar to the repetitive and frustrating experience of attempting to get three stars on all of the levels in Angry Birds, I found myself attempting to reach 99% painted on every level before I went on to the next. I just NEEDED to. While Angry Birds has three stars, Zen Bound has three benchmarks to reach: 70%, 85%, and 99%. Thankfully, the developers don’t expect perfection from us and give us that 1% relief!

There are other various ways to paint the object other than covering it with a rope. These techniques are introduced in the first “tree” (which is what a set of levels are called). First introduced are nail bombs, which look like pins with little balls on the ends of them. Nail bombs are placed on some of the objects and their function is to explode the surrounding area with paint when they are contacted by a rope. The other feature is rope bombs, which serve a similar function to the nail bombs. Instead of the whole rope painting the object, only small balls of paint attached to the rope can paint by exploding when in contact with the object.

The feature of the game that I’m most impressed with is the music. The music is so entrancing that I found myself wondering if I could buy the soundtrack (to play before sleeping). At Zenbound.com I discovered that it was possible to get the soundtrack from both games, for free! The only requirement to receive the two complimentary soundtracks is to sign up for their newsletter. So check out the soundtrack ahead of time at the price of an occasional email.

While the game is relaxing, it isn't something I'm likely to play again. There's no obvious flaw with Zen Bound 2, but there's something that turns me off from a game that's in between something passive (like Crosswords or Scrabble) and something active (like Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja). Games with more action than Zen Bound hold my attention better, but that doesn't mean that Zen Bound 2 isn't a great game. If a change of pace from the fast-paced gamer lifestyle is in order, Zen Bound 2 is the way to go.

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