I was intrigued by Color Zen since first reporting on it back in October. Part of my curiosity stemmed from not knowing what this puzzle game would be about – the launch trailer simply added fuel to my inquiring mind. Descriptions such as “completely engrossing” and “timeless and beautiful” are exciting yet equivocal. Turns out they are spot on though, as Color Zen fires on all cylinders – it’s great!
In Color Zen you’re aiming to ultimately fill the entire screen with whatever color happens to be the border. Admittedly the concept isn’t the shortest to explain (and there’s no digital manual) but it’s quite easily grasped once play begins. Indeed, the first chapter might actually make it seem too simple – think of it as a tutorial. Things swiftly ramp up however, as layouts get more complex and crowded, new mechanics are introduced (like colors moving in sync), and levels start bursting at the seams with all sorts of varied and colorful geometric patterns.
The visuals look like they were inspired by Color Field abstract art, with a distinctive 60’s aesthetic to them. Groovy graphics – I think they’re great! They give the game a very exclusive, eye-catching look. Simple yet striking, vivid but not gaudy, I can see why the game’s advertised as “timeless and beautiful”.
Encouragement to wear headphones is given, and you may want to give it heed – Color Zen showcases exceptionally strong audio. The music is mesmerizing, the sound effects germane, and the overall package is one of very high quality. As my wife played on the GamePad at one end of the room, I swore I heard the music coming from a window at the other end. I’ve never heard pseudo surround sound quite like that from the Wii U GamePad, and I think it’s excellent. This game has an official soundtrack, and understandably so. I’ve been putting the game on simply to enjoy the eclectic tunes! My only regret is that no sound plays through the TV itself, just the GamePad – that’s an unfortunate misstep.
Control is simple and almost spot-on. Everything is handled via the GamePad. You drag the colored shapes with the stylus, and that’s pretty much it. Sometimes it’s fun just to fling them about, watching them bounce around the screen. Double tapping (for pausing, to pull up the menu, or toggle the shield) is the only area lacking in consistent responsiveness. Thankfully it’s fairly minor.
The game has nearly 500 levels to puzzle through, and more coming via DLC. At just $3.99 that’s a heck of a value! Should you desire to skip certain levels, there’s a limited means to do so. The first chapters in each theme (Classic, Reflection, Serenity, and Nature) are also unlocked automatically so you can jump around to a degree if unable to wrap your head around a particular level. Even with the challenge however, it still has a relaxed feel to it.
Don’t be turned off by the name. Color Zen is an absorbing and addictive puzzle game that hits the mark! Versions will also be arriving on the 3DS sometime soon, and I’m looking forward to that. I appreciate that Cyrponia and Large Animal have delivered a top-notch Wii U game, and I hope it finds the eShop success it deserves.