There are so many potential avenues for puzzle games to take, and it’s nice to see some that don’t rely on repetitive physics puzzlers with three star scoring systems. Color Zen is one such puzzle game that is all about filling the screen with one uniform color after starting with an array of multiple colors. It’s a bit like Paint Buckets, as you pick one color to begin with to meld with the same color throughout the scene. You continue that process of selecting colors to meld with until you fill the screen with just a single color. Color Zen doesn’t have score, timers, or anything other than just focusing on solving the puzzle at hand.
There are 120 puzzles to colorize, and there are six level packs with each one introducing new elements to contend with. In each level, you toss a colored shape into a matching color to cover the available area. Soon, you’ll come across white orbs that can match with anything, and black orbs that can clear away any other shape. There’s just some nice variation, although most levels are still a bit easy. Through the first three level packs, there was only one level that took me more than one replay. The game seems a lot more complex on the surface, but once you actually play it, you realize how simplistic the game mechanic actually is.
The game does feature outstanding level design with each one offering little works of art to transform. The main problem though, is that despite the colorful array and new elements, the levels blend together relatively quickly. There’s not much reward in completing such obvious puzzles, and it becomes a passive movement from puzzle to puzzle. There’s no doubt, the game is well designed, but the actual puzzles leave too much to be desired. There are a number of other recent puzzle games like Go Round and Quell Memento that do walk the tight rope in offering the balance of challenge and friendly nature. Sadly, Color Zen isn’t one of them, and there’s not the great incentive to keep powering through the monotony. This ultimately be due to the overly simplistic nature of the game with not much room for depth or intricacies, especially with such few colors on screen at once.
Color Zen ($0.99, Universal) look promising on the surface, but below the colorful outer shell, there just isn’t much. It ends up blending in with the plethora of other puzzle games in the App Store making it one to skip.