Everyone gets stressed out, and sometimes the best way to unwind is to play a game that has no real goal. Lately, I’ve been going through a lot of stressful situations, and my favorite way to detox is just pick up my iPhone and launch a game. However, sometimes games frustrate me because I end up trying to overachieve and failing, which does nothing but add more stress in that moment. That’s why I was interested in ZenDots when I first heard of it, because it looked like a soothing game to just get immersed in and forget about the real world for a bit.
ZenDots features a minimalistic look and feel to it, as it is pretty much just a black background with colored dots sitting on top of it. While it may not sound like much, once things are set in motion, it’s a pleasant sight to see. The layout of the dots will always remain the same, but the colors change once you move on to the next level, so there is something to look forward to. The animation in ZenDots is buttery smooth and fluid, and there is a tranquil, upbeat, and atmospheric soundtrack that is just what a person needs after a long day.
ZenDots only has one game mode, but there are an infinite amount of “levels” for players, which just means a new color palette once all of the dots are cleared out. Each round gives players three white balls that can be hit with the flippers at the bottom of the screen, and only the white balls can knock down the colored ones.
However, the game promises that the falling colored dots are “designed to make your worries melt away.” If you run out of white dots before all of the colored ones are gone, there is the option to purchase more through in-app purchases. Even though that options is available, each stage can be cleared eventually without the need for more than three dots. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the total number of colored dots that you’ve managed to free during your entire time with the game.
The controls in ZenDots are simple and easy to learn, but can be difficult to master when you have a lot of activity happening at once on the screen. The white ball shows up in the center of the screen, and all you have to do is tap on it to launch it. Once gravity takes its toll, just tap on the appropriate side of the screen to use the flipper. When the white ball hits a colored one, it knocks it loose from the cluster, just like in Brick Breaker games. While it’s fun to watch the colored dots fall and bounce around, remember to keep an eye on the white one, because that’s the ball that really matters. If the white one falls to the bottom and you failed to hit it, then you lose it and have to use the next ball. When you’ve used up three, you’ll have to end it or buy more.
So far, I’m enjoying ZenDots, but I found that the mechanic can be a bit stressful at times, which is not what I was expecting from a game that promises to help you relax. I thought that the colored balls would also be able to knock the others down, and personally I think that would have been more relaxing. Maybe this could be added as a separate game mode in the future. The flippers also got stuck a few times, which I found annoying, and hopefully this can be fixed. Regardless, the game itself is still fun and challenging, and the minimalistic aesthetics are still sharp. Plus, the music is upbeat and fun to hear.
I recommend downloading ZenDots if you are looking for a simple, fun game to unwind with after a long day. It can get frustrating when you’re so close to clearing a level, but the overall experience is still zen. ZenDots is available on the App Store as a universal download for free with in-app purchases.