Concept8.5
Graphics7
Gameplay9
Reader Rating19 Votes8
The Hooks
Very relaxing and calming
Easy to play and intuitive
For all ages
The Sinkers
Ascension to Dragon underwhelming
8.2

After a long day at work, sometimes all you want to do is just get home and relax. And If you’re anything like me, then the moment you find your spot on a bus or train, out comes the phone or iPad and you’re on a mobile game to pass the time and destress. Zen Koi, by Singapore‐based developers LandShark Games, is great for occasions where you don’t want to think too hard–you simply guide your koi and watch it feed, grow and mate.

Zen Koi takes inspiration from an ancient Asian myth about Koi ascending to dragons. You control a colourful Koi as it follows finger motions through a pond pursuing smaller fish. The slow movement of the Koi and and the tranquil music is quite relaxing. As your Koi feeds, it grows and levels up allowing you to increase its stats–speed, agility and rarity. As your Koi gets stronger, you’re introduced to different sort of prey to hunt.

The game mechanics are extremely simple and a tutorial is really not necessary. There are no complicated movements, just the tapping of a finger to guide the Koi in the direction you want it to go. For such a simple game though, it’s really quite addictive. The simple motions of guiding the Koi might seem… well, boring–I thought so at first–but it’s quite captivating… especially when other Koi start coming around.

One of my favourite features of the game is that you actually get to breed Koi! Once you receive a notification that your Koi is now an adult, you’ll find that every now and then, a random Koi might appear. Follow that Koi long, and close, enough and they’ll go into a mating dance and you’ll get an egg. Hatch the egg and you’ll find that the offspring is a combination of colours of both parents… I was hooked (pun intended)!

Suddenly from a very casual and carefree game I now wanted to see the different combinations that my Koi could make. I wanted to collect them all–apparently there are more than 300 combinations available. If that’s not enough… keep levelling up your Koi till they finally ascend and take their Dragon form.

Now one of the let-downs of the game for me is that we can’t see animated dragons… just a still image. How i’d love to control the dragons (maybe an expansion? *hint hint*).

While that did let a little wind out of my sails once my Koi finally ascended to Dragon form, I was surprised how addictive the game was. I’d find myself turning it on whenever I had the free time… even my 5-year old boy picked it up and next thing we knew, we were competing to see who got the next dragon first… so much for a relaxing game huh? Leave it to us to turn anything into a competition.

Zen Koi is available now, exclusively in Singapore on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Zen Koi will be launched globally on 23rd April 2015.