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Mobile Apps

The spellbinding Zen Bound for iPhone

It may not bring you closer to Nirvana, but Zen Bound's beautiful graphics and mellow soundtrack are likely to relax you more than any other iPhone title.

Screenshot from Zen Bound (Credit: Secret Exit)

Between first-person shooters and zippy racers, playing games on your iPhone can be quite a heart-racing experience. When the thrill of competition starts taking its toll, it's time to chillax.

Zen Bound is a strange concept and is beautifully delivered. Each level finds you wrapping a piece of string around a wooden object and painting the object where the string makes contact with it. When you have painted enough of the surface of the object you are free to move on to the next challenge or push forward and try to reach the level's maximum goal — you usually have to have 99 per cent of the object painted.

The simplicity of the game is made complex by the variety of shapes these beautifully textured wooden objects come in. In the easier beginner levels the wood might be variations on a box shape, but as the difficulty rises the shapes change to be more complex carvings, for instance like animals, with tricky corners for ears, paws and snouts. You'll notice areas of the wood remain unpainted where the rope is suspended across divots and ridges or held up by rope wrapped around on your previous pass over the same area, meaning you'll likely have to start afresh and find a new approach.

This is fine, of course, because we're relaxed — we're not trying to rush through the game — we're taking our time and meditating on our next move. Plus we're listening to the game's fantastic soundtrack, a moody mix of old style wood instruments and slow, subtle hip-hop beats played under tinkling chimes. This is apparently a single, looped 22-minute track called Bound by artist Ghost Monkey and you're offered a free download of the track after you've purchased the game.

We've been captivated by this wonderful game. So often apps described as games and fun are epitomised by garish colours and shocking sound effects. Zen Bound is an escape from this into a tranquil place illustrated in stunning 3D. It comes in a free Lite version or can be purchased for AU$5.99 from the iTunes App Store.