In this hectic world we live in, many times work and appointments must come before the fun and joys in our lives, including that of getting to play videogames whenever we want. Gone are the days when we could fire up a game of our choice and spend hours toiling away â€“ now we seem to game in stolen moments here and there. With that in mind, perhaps it is no wonder that casual games have become such a popular gaming choice (especially with women who make up the vast majority of casual game players), as casual games allow us to either jump in and get those quick fixes of gaming bliss or either play them for as long as we want when we do have the time. In honor of the casual game, we’ll be bringing you a new Casual Game of the Week every Monday to help you find that fix you might be needing in your life, and this week we have: Zenerchi.
I’m sure you’ve all had those days where nothing seems to go right. You get up, you go to work or school, and nothing works out right. The whole time there you are stressed, angry, easily frustrated and infuriated, and all you want to do is get home and just disappear, relax and not have a single care or worry on your mind. But of course, rarely does that happen either, as you’ll get numerous telemarketing calls, someone will always be pestering you about doing something, and the only relaxation you find is when sleep finally comes. And heck, even then a state of peace is not always prevalent, as nightmares can creep in. Enter the world of Zenerchi, a game that seeks to put you into a state of zen, leaving all thoughts behind, and entering a tranquil state of consciousness. I’m not quite sure the game accurately does that, but it is a fun time to be had, which will at least distract you from all the world’s problems for a short time.
Zenerchi follows the “match three of a kind” formula of many casual puzzle games, but instead of the relatively flat perspective, Zenerchi incorporates a 3D-esque descent down, as if by chipping away at the puzzle pieces, we’ll manage to fall into ourselves, and find that state of peace we’ve been looking for.
The way the game works is that you have an inward spiraling well of cascading colors, and each part of the well is made up into a slice of rings. By left clicking on any of the rings with your mouse, you’ll be able to turn the rings either to the left or right, all so that you can make a match of at least three of the same colors. Once a match is made, those blocks disappear, and more pieces fall into place, often leading to the possibility of several chain combos in a row. At the heart of the well lies several color representations, such as red, green, blue, etc. In order to beat any given level, you must match up enough of whatever colors are down there, to properly fill your meter, thus creating part of your crystal. If you complete all the parts of the crystal before you either run out of available moves or before time runs out (indicated by a small sphere that travels around the perimeter of the well) then you win and move to the next level.
Like all puzzle games, things start off easy, but get hard within a matter of levels. In the case of Zenerchi, you’ve got reverse spinners that will turn the two rows it is touching into different directions, blockers that won’t let you move that ring till you make a match with that color blocker, and other such dastardly contraptions. Thankfully, to help you combat these situations, you’ve got power bombs that will eliminate all pieces on each of its four sizes, pieces that will turn that whole area a specific color, and others. In order to get one of these pieces â€“ such as the power bombs â€“ you’ll need to create a match of five colors. All of the above gameplay mechanics play into the Journey Mode of the game, but they are also prevalent in others as well. For example, the unlocked Zen Mode follows the same rules, only you have counter pieces, where it counts down for every ring you spin; should you spin too many times and not eliminate that piece yet, it seals itself up and makes itself a blocker.
Like many puzzle games, there is an expert point total you should be shooting for, but in most games I’ve never bothered. Oh, a casual game is calling me an expert, and yet I’m not rewarded for my accomplishment in the slightest. Unlike those games, however, I actually found myself shooting for the expert totals, as they give you what I personally think is a pretty cool thing â€“ quotes. I know, you might not be into quotes, but I always enjoy a good one, especially enlightening ones detailing the personal journeys we go through in life, and the steps we take to make ourselves something more than what we are. You’ll find some very enlightening quotes from some very famous people, such as ones detailing that it isn’t about looking back or forward on the journey, but rather looking inside ourselves, or ones detailing that we make ourselves what we believe ourselves to be. Not sure why, but they hit home to me, and made me really try hard to unlock them so I could read the next pearl of wisdom.
The graphics aren’t spectacular or ground-breaking or anything of the sort, but they are simple, quaint, colorful, and bright so you definitely feel yourself in a bit more of an uplifted mood, just by even looking at the game. The sound of the cascading bricks and them crunching or blowing up when destroyed are also nice sounding, though never too loud or jarring to take you out of that peaceful state of mind. The music is also soothing, only ever quickening and fraying your nerves a bit when you get down to the end, and that timer is only moments away from reaching zero and costing you your game.
Though the game didn’t put me in an absolute state of zen while I was playing, everything still was top quality, from the gameplay to the graphics to the sound work. I also really enjoyed the incentive to complete the levels with the expert goal reached, as I particularly dug being able to read some of these favorite quotes meant to better yourself. In the end, I had a really nice time while playing the game, and found it both challenging and soothing.