Relaxing, soothing, meditative. Zen Koi 2 is a different type of game; you won't find anything frantic or adrenalin pumping here. You begin with a koi (a Japanese ornamental carp) floating in a pond, swaying gently in the current. Every aspect of the game works together to make you feel peaceful and calm – from the soothing soundtrack to the fish's meditative swimming motion.
Paul Naylor of Singapore-based LandShark Games explains how that movement was created: “Many of the other fish games out there used canned animations for swimming that don't look good when the fish turns,” he says. “I found inspiration in two sources: a research paper on the mathematic formula for the swimming motion of a robotic fish, and also the fluid turns of the creatures in the game Flow.”
Not only do the turns look good, they are a little tricky, as you will find out when you chance upon a visiting koi. As your koi swims with the pond guest, an egg might turn up, and a new pattern and colour of koi may be delivered. There are over 500 colour combinations to collect.
Like any fish, your koi needs to eat in order to grow. Be mindful – catching the various types of food within the pond is not as easy as it seems – they move differently. Catch enough and you’ll be able to unlock gems that you then need to take to different symbols located within the pond. Succeed in doing so and you'll expand the boundaries of your pond, getting that much closer to elevating your koi into a dragon.
The game doesn't end when your koi morphs into a majestic dragon though. “One of the main motivations for making Zen Koi 2 was to create playable dragons that were free to roam the cosmos. Players are able to control their dragons and connect the stars to form custom constellations, which can be shared,” says Naylor.
Plus, dragons will provide you with things that will go a long way in sprucing up your pond with the odd mossy rock.
Don’t worry if the screen starts flashing when your koi swims over a red plant – you can’t actually “die” in this game. Naylor says, “With so many games that punish you if you make a mistake, we thought there'd be a place for a game where you can take your time and just play.”
So the next time you're feeling a little stressed, take a moment with Zen Koi 2.