There’s something counter intuitive with the idea of a relaxing game. With games you are given an objective to accomplish and then obstacles that deter you from completing that objective. After numerous failure and a healthy dose of frustration the payoff of a game comes in the sweet release of success. Due to the necessity of obstacles and even slightly frustrating or challenging the player, the idea that you can stay calm and relaxed during a game play experience seems unfounded. This however, is exactly what Zen Bound 2 attempts to accomplish, and it does have some limited effectiveness in accomplishing it.
Zen Bound 2 is a pseudo puzzle game where you wrap a string around a three dimension object to varying degrees. For each area the string touches the object a small amount of paint covers that immediate area. By effectively covering large portions of the object you are rated with up to three points which are used to unlock future levels. A relatively simple concept, but that is what Secret Exit, the developers of Zen Bound, were looking for.
The sound for Zen Bound is really where the game all comes together. The idea here is to add very relaxing music to a relatively simple gameplay mechanic in order to create an overall soothing experience. The music achieves this in strides. With slow bass lines and heavy melody the music creates an environment of harmonic sedation.
The string and controls do work a little against this. Not to say the controls aren’t great, because it is amazing how well Secret Exit implemented multi touch controls within this game. The problem is that wrapping string around some of the more complex figures is a true test of patience. The physics performance of the rope and controls do get the job done, but often achieving what you’re attempting becomes frustrating which breaks the mood Zen Bound attempts. This is the initial problem I identified with Zen Bound. In order for there to be challenge from within the game there needs to be concessions taken that reduce the feelings of relaxation. The approach I found most beneficial was to simply ignore the objectives present within the game and simply cover stuff in rope. For most figurines a two out of three score was relatively easy to accomplish and I was able to maintain that feeling that was intended for me all along.
Despite the inner struggle the game faces Zen Bound 2 still accomplishes what it set out to. This is definitely a game for just before bed, or to clear out your head for a few minutes. I would recommend it to gamers and non gamers alike that just want to kill some time, or are trying to recreate that Sunday afternoon feeling in the middle of their week.