For a game, Zen Koi 2 is surprisingly relaxing. You begin with a koi floating in the pond, swaying gently in the current. Every aspect of the game works together to keep you calm: from the soothing soundtrack to the meditative swimming motion of the fish.
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 mathematics 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 well as you will find out when you chance upon a visiting koi. As your koi swims with the pond guest, an egg which might turn up a new pattern and colour of koi is delivered. We hear that there are over 500 colour combinations to collect.
Like any other fish, your koi has to eat to grow. But careful now, catching the different types of prey within the pond is not as easy as it seems as they move differently. Catch enough and you’ll be able to unlock gems that you then bring to symbols located within the pond. Succeed in doing so and you'll expand the boundaries of your pond, getting that much closer to ascending 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 essence that will go a long way in sprucing up your pond with the odd mossy rock.
Don’t freak out 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.