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Game Info:

Zen Bound 2
Developed by: Secret Exit Ltd.
Published by: Secret Exit Ltd.
Released: November 16, 2010
Available on: iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows
Genre: Puzzle
Number of players: 1
Price: $4.99
(Humble Store Link) 

There is a song in the Sound of Music called "My Favorite Things." One of the singer's favorite things is "brown paper packages tied up with string." If Maria von Trapp enjoyed tying other things up with string, then perhaps Secret Exit Ltd. would have just the game for her.

Zen Bound 2 is an interesting conglomeration of ideas. The focus of this cross-platform game is to tie things up. This is done in a soothing atmosphere designed to help the user relax. As bizarre as it sounds, somehow it works well.

The player is presented with a variety of wooden blocks carved into different shapes, such as elephants, birds, or even laser guns. Some of the objects pay tribute to other things, such as the Energizer Bunny or the first level of Donkey Kong. One end of a piece of string is tied to a nail hammered into the block of wood. The player needs to move the mouse – or rotate the tablet, if on a portable device – in order to wind the string around the wooden block. As the string touches the block, the surface will be painted. Once 70% of the shape is covered, the player can touch the string to another nail to complete the minimum requirements and earn a flower. However, additional flowers can be earned if the player continues to wind the string around the shape until 85% to 99% of the block is painted. These earn two and three flowers, respectively. This is easier said than done, since the physics in the game are pretty slick, too. The string will slide along slopes depending on the angle of the wooden block, so careful thinking about how to manipulate the object is crucial, especially near the later challenges. 

Zen Bound 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Great graphics; soothing music; many objects to tie up; original gameplay
Weak Points: Can get repetitious
Moral Warnings: Yoga references

The more flowers are earned, the more puzzles are unlocked. There are more than 100 puzzles in the game, and 11 achievements on Steam, so the game provides plenty of longevity. The graphics are sharply detailed and interesting, with a reflective sheen as the player turns the block. There is an occasional issue with clipping, where it appears that the string actually cuts into the block. Fortunately, this rarely affects the gameplay. 

The music is soothing and fits the overall atmosphere. The sound effects also are pleasant, with the occasional creak as the string is pulled taut against the wooden shape. They also provide audible cues, including little pops as paint balls burst, or gentle chimes when certain goals are achieved. Although the game can get frustrating at times, the atmosphere helps to take the edge off the irritation. The soundtrack could be a good addition to anyone who likes calming electronica. 

Zen Bound 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 98%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The only real problem is that, before long, the gameplay could feel repetitive. Zen Bound 2 is best played in short doses of time, perhaps while trying to relax or calm down from a more exciting or frightening game. Some of the achievements are very difficult, such as obtaining 100% completion for every object. 

There is little to be concerned about on the moral front. One collection of puzzles features a variety of humanoid figures in various yoga poses. That's about the extent of anything that might be of concern to parents or Christians (and most probably wouldn't mind at all). 

Zen Bound 2 is an interesting puzzle experience in small doses. It can provide a nice challenge and exercise your thinking skills while presenting a soothing atmosphere. The $4.99 price is reasonable for the amount of content it offers, and if it can be obtained as part of a sale or a bundle, it's an even better bargain.

About the Author

J. Todd Cumming

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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