‘Find Your Way’ promises this simple, but addictive puzzler for the WiiU as you load it up. And you will, over the course 460 little puzzles designed around the GamePad in mind.
So what’s the concept behind ‘Color Zen’. Well, it’s a very simple package of a game, so simple in fact that it does feel more like a bus-journey-friendly mobile phone game that has just happened to wander onto a home console. Well, that is in fact, what happened! If you’ve played games along the lines of ‘Flow Free’ or any such quick pick-up and put-down game, you’ll be familiar with this. Small, straight forward mini-games with minimal graphical pow and an addictive quality.
In the case of ‘Color Zen’ you have a screen with a border round it of a particular colour, with your aim being to clear the screen of the objects and shapes until the screen is one solid block of colour, i.e. that of the border. To clear the objects, or individual elements of objects, you have to touch shapes together of the same colour which fills the screen with that colour, absorbing anything that matches. Imagine if the screen was paint and you were using the fill tool and it covered up areas of the same colour, and it’s like a gamefied version of that.
But there are a few caveats. Some shapes are held within other colours, sometimes dartboard-like, and you have to peel them away like a flat pass-the-parcel, so you have to be careful in your actions to remove certain colours first to ensure the screen isn’t left with one immovable object. You will also, as you progress find special objects, such as white items that absorb whatever colour you match them with, and black objects that destroy whatever touches them, after which they disappear. Plus, not all objects can move. Some are stuck, whereas others you can drag around on the touchscreen or fling around like snookerballs, a metaphor that comes into being on one cleverly designed mini-game relatively early on.
You will also find later on some pieces with shields on them that can be removed with a double click, which adds another level of trickery to an already very tactical game.
The above might sound confusing but trust me; it’s very simple to pick up and play and there’s a straight forward instruction page at the start if you are still stuck. Like all the best puzzle games it’s easy to play, difficult to master.
There are plenty of games to keep you going, with four sections each containing six chapters of twenty games, aside from the latter which just contains five of twenty. Firstly there is ‘classic’ gameplay as outlined above with its variety of random shapes to remove. There’s also ‘reflection’, the most satisfying of the modes, which creates an invisible line across the screen and your actions in one half affect, or reflect, in the other half, which leads to more tactical solutions, especially when objects but not colours are mirrored across and momentum makes a difference. With elements of a physics sandbox here, there are some very clever puzzles in this section involving momentum, control and mazes but it’s not my job to spoil them here.
The other two modes are ‘serenity’ and ‘nature’, but I’m not sure, aside from new shapes and styles, whether these differ much from the ‘classic’ mode as I don’t notice anything myself, other than a ramping up of the difficulty and some new concept spins on the established formula.
If you do get stuck you can double-click the background to retry or skip ahead to the next level if you can’t beat the current one, but bear in mind you can only do this five times. There aren’t really any major penalties in the game for failure, so it is quite a zen-based experience.
Overall, I enjoyed playing ‘Color Zen’. It’s a refreshingly gentle game with bitesize chunks of game play that can be played for a while or just for a quick five minutes. It’s not an overly taxing game though it does ease you in and then becomes quite taxing and cleverly set-up, with some very inventive stages, though they’re not that difficult to beat.
You’re never going to get over the fact that it feels like a mobile phone game thrust onto the big screen. The graphics are never more than simple and, unlike many WiiU games that don’t use the GamePad enough, this one is designed to play solely on the GamePad with no music going through the television only through the GamePad speakers, so make sure you have the slider over else you’ll have a very muted experience like I did for the first five minutes. In fact I’d recommend having the television switched off or on mute to cut out the incredible loud ‘beep’ you get when selecting menu options. The lack of music through the television does seem a bit of a missed opportunity.
The electronic music is also simple but calming, and certainly fits the zen of the title, rounding off a package that’s simple but addictive and enjoyable to play and is refreshingly challenging and fun to play at times. It never quite escapes the feeling of a smart phone game and it’s something ideally for short bursts of gameplay, but it’s something to play on the GamePad whilst someone uses the television, and for £2.99 you can’t really complain.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Wii U code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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