Color Zen Review
Okay, so I'm a sucker for any game that's well conceived, easy to pick up and play, and full of lots of colors and great music. That's pretty much exactly what Color Zen gives you. The game is nothing I haven't seen here and there in other titles, but it's very focused and well executed in what it wants to do.
The point of Color Zen is to change the color of the screen to match the color of the border. That's it. But in order to do this, you have to combine shapes of different colors in an increasingly layered and complex series of puzzles.
Whenever you bring two shapes of the same color together, it will change the whole screen to that color in a nice, smooth animation that feels satisfying every time you do it. At first, the levels are really basic to get you on board with the concept. But as you continue, the shapes will multiply and arrange themselves all over the place.
After you've carved your way in a decent amount, you will have to plan your way through a level in order to eventually have the final pieces on the screen that will lead to the right color matching the border.
Some levels, even ones that seem really dense with patterns and colors, will come together easier than you might think at first glance and you will get in a rhythm of solving levels that feels like you're kind of a puzzle orchestra conductor. But there are roadblocks as well, where all of a sudden that retry screen will pop up out of nowhere. The trickier levels will take some chess-like planning ahead in order to get through to the next one.
Color Zen is divided up into six different chunks, each with 20 levels to solve your way through. The different stages will introduce new puzzle challenges, beyond the basic border matching premise that the game is based around. Things get tougher as you move along, but nothing gets too crazy.
The puzzle solving in Color Zen is more about calmly zoning out, rather than really pushing your synapses. The game is equal parts mood setting as it is puzzle solving. Personally, I really enjoyed this blending together. But some hardcore puzzle gaming enthusiasts might not be so high on this casual aspect.
Added to that is the fact that the game finishes up rather quickly. But to anyone that blows through it and then derides it because of that, I would say that you wouldn't have plowed through everything if you didn't like it in the first place. I don't want to knock it too much for that fact and it seems like the kind of game that can easily be added to, with new levels and other gameplay elements. For instance, a mode that incorporated some more geometry and fitting together of shapes could be a lot of fun.
Any kind of game can come to mobile and work, more or less. Even for titles that were designed for other systems, most can be ported over and there are ways to get them to work. While some games will turn out better than others, there's no hard and fast rules for what kind of game works best in mobile gaming.
In terms of a pure experience that defines the idea of mobile gaming, I'm often drawn to titles that try to make it as simple as possible. There are a number of artful indie puzzle games out there with this philosophy, such as Hexagon, Eliss, ColorShift and Hundreds to name a few. The latest title that belongs in this company is the super slick puzzler Color Zen, which offers a unique and relaxing new look at the mobile puzzle game.