You could be forgiven in thinking that Zen Bound 2 is a copy of the Treasure Chest mini-game from Nintendo’s 1-2-Switch just released as a standalone game but that isn’t true at all. In Nintendo’s the mini-game players frantically rotate the Joy-Con in an attempt to unravel chains surrounding a treasure chest in the quickest time possible, it was relatively fun and helped to showcase the versatility of the new hybrid console. Of course, though this isn’t always as simple as you might think and that brings me neatly back to Zen Bound 2. Sequel of the 2009 cult indie hit by Secret Exit in-which the aim of the game is to paint a variety of objects by wrapping them up.
Zen Bound 2 is more of the same which is perfectly OK with me, it features over 100 levels each of which contains a different size and shaped object to overcome. The game mechanic is simple yet pure genius, making you rotate a rope around the given object and subsequently painting the surrounding area that comes into contact with it. Many of the levels are quick and easy to beat but the real fun comes in the challenge of getting the required target score using a limited length of rope. Each level has three target scores to achieve – minimum, medium and maximum, which can bring a surprising amount of complexity to the game. To its credit, Zen Bound 2 is a game you can play for a moment and make decent progress or get lost in its tranquillity for hours on end without even realising.
Visuals are beautifully crafted, from the menu screens which offer a level select in the form of paper lanterns on trees to the realistic, tactile, wooden objects which wait in each area. It was always a pretty looking title even on mobile but thanks to the Switch’s screen it looks even better in handheld mode and just as nice when docked. The game runs smoothly and the inclusion of motion control really adds and lifts the whole experience. I soon found this became my preferred input method and although the touchscreen works perfectly well I just felt the physical buttons were a little too cumbersome. This already great package is backed up with a sublime, enveloping soundtrack which is in keeping with the games aura. For this new release, it has been exclusively mixed in 5.1 splendidness by the electronic artist Ghost Monkey.
Zen Bound 2 is a great title that continues the solid foundation set out by its predecessor. The Nintendo Switch release is undoubtedly the best version available all thanks to the Joy-Con’s ability to double up as a handy little motion control which, for once, adds a new depth to the game without simply being another gimmick. It is almost a shame that it has taken this long for technology to catch up with the idea behind the game but I’m glad it got there in the end. With lots to do and good replay value in trying to get 100% coverage on each level, Zen Bound 2 is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.
Beard Score: 8/10
Genre: Puzzle, Lifestyle
Publisher: Secret Exit
Release: 24/04/2018 (Switch)
Format: Nintendo Switch, Mobile