If Zen Bound for iPhone and iPod touch was foreplay, then Zen Bound 2 for iPad is the full act.
The sequel to 2009's most innovative iPhone game is concerned less with further invention than with realising its full potential, unbound by the larger iPad screen. While the lack of new gameplay elements makes Zen Bound 2 a predictable follow up, the phenomenal design inherited from the original demands little change.
Scores of new levels and alluring high definition visuals are enough to make a worthy sequel, even if there's little new when it comes to gameplay. Zen Bound 2 is an evolution that focuses on improving its subtle charm rather than layering new elements and features.
A taut rope, a couple of nails, and your fingers - these are the tools with which you paint an array of unfinished wooden objects. Like the first game, Zen Bound 2 asks you to cover various wooden shapes with paint by wrapping them with rope. Splashes of colour appear wherever the rope meets a surface and fully shading each item is your objective.
Sliding a finger across the screen adjusts the position of the object, which enables you to position the rope around crevices, notches, and flat planes. Multi-touch allows you to manipulate the object at any angle, twisting and turning it to find the optimal angle in which to draw the rope.
The expansive iPad screen provides greater manoeuvrability, allowing you to weave the rope through tighter spaces thanks to the larger scope of the objects and ability to exert more control over movement.
This is particularly helpful when tackling stages with paint bombs, which require precision control. These globules of paint sit atop nails hammered into the wood and can be touched for an explosion of colour. Since triggering a paint bomb enables you to quickly and easily cover a larger area with paint, winding the rope so as to touch them is a wise tactic.
Of course, they're often situated in tricky spots such as jutting out from a corner or deep within a notch. Increased control over the rope means you're able to twist it around paint bombs with greater ease.
Each level comes with three goals relating to how much of the object's surface area has been covered with paint: 70 per cent, 85 per cent, and 99 per cent, each rewarded with a flower. It's never an issue covering the minimum 70 per cent and coating another 15 per cent to reach the medium goal is usually easy.
In cases where you're unable to reach the medium or maximum goals, you're still awarded a flower for achieving the minimum. Earning flowers is crucial for unlocking new levels, but you're free to tackle any available level and acquire flowers at your own pace.
Miles and miles of rope
The levels designed specifically for iPad are more difficult than those brought over from the original iPhone and iPod touch game, yet the huge number of levels ensures that you can warm up on easier stages before wrestling with the new angular objects.
More generally, the huge number of levels in Zen Bound 2 offers extraordinary value, even if you're best advised to play them in small chunks.
While objects differ from one to the next, the gameplay remains the same. Without compelling new mechanics or modes, Zen Bound 2 succumbs to repetition. Playing more than a handful of levels at a time becomes challenging due to the creeping monotony. To be fair, the repeated work of winding the rope speaks directly to the game's contemplative spirit.
It's this vibe, this sense of simplicity, that makes Zen Bound 2 such an appealing game. Added levels and high-definition graphics polish up the original, though new gameplay elements or modes would have truly taken the game to the next level.
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