Zen Puzzle Garden is a unique and superb shareware puzzle games from Lexaloffle Games, an independent game developer. As a Zen Buddhist monk, your objective is to rake through all the sand in the sand garden (creating designs not unlike real-life Zen gardens in the process), ending up outside it at the end (i.e. without 'trapping' the monk inside). The monk enters the sand where you want, and he will keep walking in that same direction until he either runs into an object in the sand, or a spot he has already raked. In both instances, the only thing you can do is turn and find a way to keep moving to one of the edges, so that the monk can exit the garden and find a new spot to enter. Since the monk cannot stop or make a turn while he is raking and there is no obstacle in his path, Zen Puzzle Garden requires a lot of planning and visualization of the sand patterns. |
The game is challenging even on the first few levels, especially since the designer astutely place rocks and other obstacles in your way. The higher levels makes it even tougher by adding stone ornaments (which you can push on to empty sand), and colored leaves you must 'collect' by stepping on them in the right order (yellow, then orange, then red). With a nice, mellow soundtrack, no time limit, and excellent graphics (I love the background animations that include leaves falling off sakura trees), Zen Puzzle Garden is both fun and soothing, as a Zen game ought to be. After getting the hang of gameplay mechanics, you will enjoy replaying the levels you already beat, just to make the sand patterns you create more artistic than the last time. Whether or not you enjoy unique puzzle games or just a relaxing brainteaser, Zen Puzzle Garden is well worth the price tag for the registered version, which contains over 60 levels. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs