One of my favorite games of last year, Zen Koi, had no endgame. It was a meditative and beautiful game, an interactive picture aimed on taking players away into a dreamy underwater world. I spent hours lost in the gorgeous visuals, serene gameplay, and award-winning music. It soothed me like no other game; to become stressed playing this game was an impossibility. No high scores, no competition, just pure zen bliss.
When I found another game out of Singapore with a similar visual feel to it, I was immediately excited to chill out. Into the Winds – Zen Flowers from Unexpect3rd Developments hits a lot of the same notes as Zen Koi, but it doesn’t quite measure up in terms of kicking back and becoming enveloped by the beauty. Instead, its ranking system of high scores and stream of goals (in each game plus bi-daily) kept me striving to do my best in the otherwise peaceful game. It’s a bit of a tradeoff, but one I was more than happy to make.
Into the Winds is a matching line game where you must draw connections between identical flowers in order to earn points, power-ups, and “seeds,” the in-game currency. The two competitive game modes are either timed or measured by the number of moves you make, but the end goal is the same. Each goal will earn you a certain amount of XP and/or seeds (i.e. match three sets of five yellow flowers for 150 XP), and you should get through five or more in any untimed match. The power-up flowers are earned by getting matching sets of a certain number, and you choose which boost best suits your style of play and your personal targets. If you want to level up more quickly, choose the roses, which allow you to gain 40 experience each time. Others grant extra turns, change a certain number of flowers into the same variety, or help clear the board. There’s no wrong way to go, and your goals are independent of the type of power-up you prefer.
It’s a very tightly structured game, which goes a bit against the zen nature the title implies but nonetheless makes for an enjoyable experience. If your goal is to get a line of four, a line of five won’t count. One would think going above and beyond would be acceptable, but not in Into the Winds. Hit the target right on the head or find another set. It leads to a few more mess-ups and, therefore, frustrating moments than one would hope for in such an otherwise laid back game. Keeping that in mind, it helps keep the ranking system honest and adds a sense of achievement when you see your name up high enough on the leaderboards. Zen Koi succeeded in everything it attempted, but many gamers still want to feel like they accomplished something at the end of the day. Into the Winds lets them do that while still just kicking back with a meditative matching title.
The third game mode is simply and succinctly called Zen Mode. To “play” it, you simply touch the flowers to make them explode in bursts of colorful petals. It lacks subtlety and gets old rather quickly, but for the first few times one can revel in the beauty and brightness of the winds carrying away the discarded flower fragments. It truly is a soothing experience, but unlike swimming around a koi pond, it feels out of place when the other two modes encourage competition and really are the primary ways to play. It stands apart to highlight the game’s thoughtful art and allows you enjoy the soundtrack without worrying about your timer ticking away or counting down your moves. Zen Mode is a very nice little feature that did not need to be included, but I’m still happy it was. It shows a consideration for gamers who just want to kick back and watch the flowers float away.
Download Into the Winds – Zen Flowers for free on the App Store here and feel your troubles take off in the breeze.
[ Source: www.HaoGamers.com ]