Mar 25, 2015
ZigZag epitomizes the mobile trend of taking classic gameplay and modernizing it with more pleasing aesthetics. On both fronts, ZigZag is to the extreme — the gameplay formula dates back to carnival challenges before video games existed, while the simplistic, square look is a modern artist’s delight. Combined, it makes for a frustratingly fun experience that is an artful time waster.
The game is as simplistic as possible — players will only need to tap the screen to change the direction of the ball. With no tutorial or instructions, it can be tough to jump right in. However, it is not difficult to tell what the objective is — move a ball along an appropriately zigzagging path.
Like Mario Kart‘s infamous Rainbow Road, players must proceed carefully, as one false move or failed action will lead the ball off the course nearly instantly, but there’s no coming back in ZigZag. Instead, players will have to start all over in hopes of getting further. It is much like a well-known carnival game in which players must use a steering wheel to direct a ball down a path in order to win a prize.
The path is randomly generated and will be different with each attempt. To add flair, it changes colors, but this can also make navigating the ball more difficult. As the path zig and zags quicker, it can be tough to maintain perspective as the main path blends in with the base. Part of what makes ZigZag unique is how the brain perceives the winding path. At times, it can look like an eternally sloping stairway to nowhere, but if the brain sees it from a three-dimensional view, it is just a square sidewalk. Of course, this doesn’t change gameplay, but depending upon the player, the way it the path is perceived could make racking up a high score easier.
Simplicity and minimalism is a constant theme throughout ZigZag, and not just with the visuals. Unfortunately, that means there is little objective outside of beating your own high score. There is a shop in which players can purchase different colored balls for 100 currency each, but putting them to use does nothing to impact fundamental gameplay.
Connecting to a Play Games account will allow players to establish a leaderboard and unlock achievements. However, the mere five achievements are not nearly enough to catch the attention of even the most meticulous achievement hunters, especially considering the ease in which players can earn all five achievements. ZigZag is aware of its depth issues, but they ultimately don’t matter.
The game was not created to give players a complex experience, but rather embrace the simplicty of mobile gaming. And it achieves its goals gallantly. Anybody can pick up and play ZigZag within a matter of seconds, and that inspires old school social gaming as friends try to best each other. There is no doubt that a few added achievements and more varied unlockables would make ZigZag a better game, but even without the extra incentive to continue playing, ZigZag is visually appealing and addictive.