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Review: Zenge

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Slide, slide, slippity slide

Most modern puzzle games go heavy on the logic/deduction/critical thinking. Some of them are so difficult the average person can't complete them without looking up a guide. On the other end of the spectrum, zen games take a more laid-back approach. Play a game, chill for a bit, and take in the sights and sounds.

Zenge lies between the two extremes. It has puzzles to solve, but it's designed to be completed. It isn't totally mindless, but it's far from taxing.

Zenge (Android [reviewed], iPhone, PC)
Developer: Hamster on Coke Games
Publisher: Hamster on Coke Games
Released: April 13, 2016
MSRP: $0.99

Zenge is a bit like a classic sliding block puzzle, like those found in the Professor Layton games. There are blocks, there are set destinations for those blocks, and boy howdy do you slide the blocks in order to get them to their destinations. The big difference is in how the pieces move: they are attached to freeform tracks rather than confined to a grid.

It starts off simple, with clear move-this-before-that interactions, but over the course of the 70 levels it introduces new mechanics that keep it from feeling stale. Before long, Zenge introduces sticky pieces, portals, switches, and tools for reflection, rotation, and dilation of the blocks. It's like a mini-geometry lesson without any pesky numbers.

The progression is smartly implemented, with each new ability introduced wordlessly in an easy task before being put to use in more complex puzzles. However, the difficulty never ramps up past medium. I never felt superfluous to the process, but I never felt challenged either.

The reason Hamster on Coke kept the difficulty low is its desire to tell a story. Upon each completion of a puzzle, an image unlocks that acts as a textless comic book page. The artwork is on the simplistic side, but it's colorful and cute.

Zenge is at its best when the puzzle and the resultant image meet in a non-trivial way. One image shows the faceless protagonist riding on the blocks that were just used to complete the puzzle. Later, a puzzle involves opening up a gate and moving the figure through, with the picture revealing the aftermath of that action.

Other times, it isn't implemented perfectly. I often found myself blazing through puzzles so fast that I'd skip the artwork out of sheer impatience. Rather than dwelling on the story, I would just get to the next puzzle as quickly as possible so I could be doing something again. Thankfully, upon completion of the final level, the story is played as a slide show, so full attention can go to it.

All that said, the narrative is just fine. Neither the story nor the delivery is especially enthralling, but it's cute enough. The same can be said for the gameplay; it isn't bad, but a lot of the time it just feels like mildly entertaining busy work.

There are a few brief moments in Zenge that shine, but most of the time it's just a passable puzzler.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Zenge reviewed by Darren Nakamura

5

MEDIOCRE

An exercise in apathy, neither solid nor liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.
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Darren Nakamura
Darren NakamuraAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more + disclosures


 



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