A stress-busting puzzle title
Price: $0.99 / £0.79
Size: 140 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Michal Pawlowski
The developers of Zenge have said the game’s less about challenging its users – you won’t find any star ratings or time-challenges here – and more about relaxing them, and it really is a shrewd assessment of the title. Its music, the ease and familiarity of its puzzles, really do lull you into a sense of calm. Though, at times, we did question whether we’d accidentally slipped into boredom during some of the easier levels.
So, what do you have to do in Zenge? It largely revolves around geometric shapes and having to slide them along ‘tracks’ in order to assemble them and move them to their final resting place, indicated by a kind of wireframe on the screen. It’s pretty simple stuff, but gets a little more interesting when other dynamics are introduced, like rotation, flipping and teleportation. Essentially, Zenge plays very much like one of those mini-games you might find in a point and click adventure, so if you were ever frustrated that characters and story got in the way of these, then Zenge will be a good title to go for.
However, there is little narrative to the game, though it’s largely inconsequential. It supposedly tells the story of Eon – a lonely journeyman who’s stuck between the worlds and time. Despite each level being intercut with a beautifully artistic image that embodies part of the puzzle you just completed, it’s mostly just a nice interstitial before the next puzzle. In regards to styling the design and faceless nature to the hero isn’t dissimilar to award-winning titles like Monument Valley.
On the face of it, if you’re a big puzzle game fan then Zenge won’t be for you. If you’re a casual player but don’t want to play traditional platformers or adventure games either then Zenge probably is for you – it’s pure take-your-time puzzles, not dissimilar to sitting round the dining table getting stuck into a 1000-piece analogue jigsaw. Old school. However, Zenge is far less challenging… so maybe we’re only talking a 250-piece jigsaw.
There’s really only one or two true head-scratchers across Zeng’s 70 levels. And despite not being puzzle-experts, we still would have like to have had a few more. In reality, the game only comes into its own in the last 15 or so levels. Which is a shame, because once the dynamics are all introduced, the combination of them all makes for a great final stretch.
It’s all fluid and bug-free and is a genuinely pleasant experience to play, though we were occasionally amused by the music’s ability to change tact frequently moving from a bad hypnosis record, to massage compilation-style, to a kind of haunted house entryway music. The art’s good though, pleasant in its varying colors.
Essentially Zenge isn’t going to gain any kind of mass following but for $1 it’s a nice and relaxing way to play through a bunch of levels. Though some have complained it’s a little too short, it’s really not. Seventy levels and the effort that’s gone in to constructing these puzzles, complete with the low price makes it easily worthwhile. You could finish this in one long session of a couple of hours. But who wants to sit and play the same thing on their iPhone for two hours? Zenge is pretty spot on in its approach to irregular gamers.
Overall, it is calming, but not very challenging so we’d say that on the relaxation level, it succeeds, but on a game-playing level, it largely passes by without a huge impact. But again, we’ll point you at the price and say “why not, ey?”