Published on October 8th, 2016 | by Craig Forshey0
The word ‘meditative’ gets thrown around a lot when it comes to video game terminology, usually being mistakenly used in place of other more descriptive adjectives such as ‘chaotic’ or ‘engrossing’ so it’s refreshing to see that a deceptively simple new arcade dodge ’em up by the name of Zohm has arrived on the scene as one of the most fitting embodiments of the ‘meditative’ nomenclature in quite some time. Created by indie developer Hyroglyphik Games, on first glance Zohm could be confused for one of thousands of banal ‘Pop the balloon’ shovelware apps due to its basic minimalist art style but to do so would be a mistake as this highly engaging arcade mashup makes clever use of the most rudimentary of assets in both visually stunning and mechanically impressive ways.
The basic concept behind Zohm is simple; In order to complete each level players must guide an orb representing the soul around the screen and collect gems using 1 to 1 touch controls while razor sharp lines fly about causing instant death. However the many impressively varied ways that Zohm manages to continually keep expanding on this premise give it both a great deal of engaging gameplay and a real sense of identity. Representing a wide range of human emotions, these killer lines are constantly shifting and dancing around the screen in mesmerizing patterns that do a surprisingly good job of being emotive despite being constrained to the medium of colorful lines. Collecting enough gems allows players to unlock new abilities that help tip the balance in their favor in subtle ways such as increasing the size of each gem’s hit box. Gems are also obtainable with real world money but thankfully in-game unlock progression happens at a plentiful enough rate that this is not an issue.
In addition to dragging their orb around the screen in order to avoid the shifting artistic death lines players are also able to simply lift up and touch another portion of the screen to instantly teleport there. At first you’d think that would make Zohm too easy but the stages have seemingly been designed around this fact as the rapidly undulating arena never provides a safe haven for more than a moment no matter where players are camping out on the screen. Over the course of an intense 100 levels the line patterns start to take on an almost Undertale esque feel as at times the pure reflexes demanded to survive can rival that of a tough boss battle from the hit indie rpg. This attention to detail and ability to take things to the next level mechanically are what separate Zohm from the many arcade tapping games out there and propel it into truly artistic territory, earning its ‘meditative’ moniker.
Zohm is available for $.99 on Google Play and contains optional micro-transactions. While it is disappointing to see micro-transactions in any game with an up front sticker the rate at which new unlocks were earned made any currency concerns feel largely superfluous to progression. It is also available for iOS.
Summary: Zohm provides a masterclass in minimalist design with engaging gameplay and striking visuals.