Zen Training Review

By , on January 18, 2013
Last modified 11 years, 1 month ago

Zen Training
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • A fun little reflex color-matching game.
  • Great music.
  • The bonus rounds are varied and interesting.


  • Turning the tree is quite sensitive.
  • Not a zen experience.


Zen Training is a chaotic reflex game trying to pass itself off as peaceful and relaxing.

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One of the ways to think about zen is that it is the path towards enlightenment. It is training your mind to relax and be at peace. Anyone who meditates or has unsuccessfully tried to meditate will know how difficult shutting your brain off can be. That's why it's been so interesting to see games capitalize on this concept. In the news post for this game on our site, I mentioned Tetris as a game you can play without any brain power whatsoever. In fact, games like Tetris, Zen Bound, Pathpix, and others have this ability to relax the player as they mindlessly explore the mechanics at hand, and it can be a glorious experience. Zen Training seems to offer a similar play style but sadly it is just superficially masking a color matching game with a hearty dash of chaos thrown in. It doesn't mean it's bad, it's just not what you expect.

You control the camera around a tree with gems falling from it. On the ground are different colored stones and you need to turn the camera so that the gems hit the stones of the same color. Now when this starts it seems slow and relaxing enough, but soon what we'll call chaos gems start to appear. These are vibrating versions of their color counterparts, and they must to tapped to dispel them before they hit their respective stones. Their presence is foretold by a helicopter whirl and as you hit level milestones, not only does the matching become more chaotic, but the chaos stones fall with alarming regularity. Each gem that misses its stone, hits the wrong color or isn't dispelled hits with an alarming crunch, and three of these in succession will annihilate the tree and end what was supposed to be peaceful.

The game tries to alleviate this bombardment with level checkpoints and bonus games (which are interesting variations on the core game), and the more you play, the more these checkpoints feel like a proper test of your skill, but this game is not only at odds with its name, but with its presentation. The music is serene and reminiscent of a koi pond, which just makes the increase in difficulty more stressful instead of relaxing. The tree and stones have an innate beauty to them, but that is shattered upon game over, replacing this beauty with a burned husk. As a test of your reflexes, the game is quite fun as the more you play, the more you see an improvement in your skill, but those expecting anything close to zen should seek enlightenment in another game.


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