Zen Training will train you to turn a tree around really fast, and that’s about it.
I know little about zen training, Buddhism, meditation, or eastern philosophies/practices in general. When I need to relax, I tend to hug my cat and tick off the seconds until she turns from a stone-faced sourpuss into a slashing, yelling maelstrom. All that said, there’s nothing really “zen” about Zen Training for iOS. It’s not even particularly engaging or challenging, and it’s definitely not relaxing in the least.
Zen Training takes place in a Japanese garden that’s decorated by a single tree. The tree drops differently-colored stones, which makes sense after you’ve downed a lot of cough syrup. Below the tree are five colored pads that match the stones. Using one finger, you swivel the background (the tree is the axis) so that the stones fall on the corresponding pad.
You get points and combos if you catch stones, but if you don’t park a stone correctly, it shatters and the screen darkens a bit. As the levels progress, the game adds challenge by cranking up the speed and forcing you to catch multiple stones at once. You also need to tap on some stones to “repair” them before allowing them to go home. Every few levels there is a Bonus Stage that requires you to catch a number of uniformly-colored stones, or turn the screen around as quickly as possible. It’s as interesting as it sounds.
Zen Training advertises itself as a puzzle game with some blood from the rhythm genre, but there’s really nothing rhythmic or puzzling about it. The stones make musical chimes when they hit the pads, but there’s really no order or reason to the sounds, nor do you have to keep in time to a beat. At best, Zen Training is a reflex game, and not a very interesting one at that. Spinning the screen to catch stones gets old in no time, and there’s nothing to keep you going beyond getting a high score and sharing it with your pals via Facebook and Twitter.
Zen Training isn’t even a mindlessly relaxing game like, say, any number of Match-3 puzzle games out there. The action speeds up after a few levels (and levels are short) and things become frantic in a couple of minutes. The smashing of stones and the darkening of the screen is pretty stressful. When game developers talk about their titles being “zen,” they typically refer to game modes that let your body switch on cruise control while your mind drifts into a meditative state. By contrast, Zen Training hardly lets you breathe.
Skip Zen Training. You’re better off cleaning the scum off the bottom of a koi pond.