ZHED (Switch) Review
Simple visual presentation
Easy to grasp gameplay after a 2-3 level learning curve
Soundtrack ain’t so bad
Difficulty kicks in rather quickly
Cannot earn additional hints
Limited to one stage at a time
ZHED is labeled as a chill puzzler as there are no time limits, no score, and no gimmicks. The soundtrack is also laid back, gameplay is very simple, and the presentation is minimalistic. Be warned, despite the casual appearance ZHED features some dastard puzzles that could have you pulling out your hair.
The goal is to move blocks in one of the four cardinal directions in a specific amount of tiles indicated in order to reach the one stage-ending white tile. It actually takes a few levels to fully grasp since there is no indication or tutorial on how to play but easy to understand once the initial learning curve is overcome. There are dozens of stages available, each getting progressively more difficult. Personally, I was cruising at a decent pace until I hit level 13. This is right around the time where the player is challenged to move multiple spaced squares around a large board. Since puzzles can only be solved one specific way, this is where frustration can set in.
There is a hint system in place but it doesn’t really help alleviate frustration. Each time a level is completed, one hint is earned. Tapping the Y button provides the player with the next move that should be taken which is a helpful feature. However, there is no way to earn additional hints, even if you replay previous stages. Making matters worse, the player can only progress to the next stage if the current puzzle is completed. Since there is no option to simply play any of the game’s 100 stages at will, the experience quickly transitions from casual to annoying. Limiting the player to complete a difficult and frustrating stage causes rage quitting. It did for me. A shame because most stages will probably never be seen by the player as they get stuck on one particular level.
ZHED is a contradictory title. It initially offers a casual atmosphere with a minimalistic approach thanks to a complete lack of score/time system but then the difficulty ramps up without mercy, forcing the player to play the game how it wants to be played. It only costs a few bucks and puzzle fans might get a kick out of it, but be warned of the high challenge.
Also available on Steam, iOS, and Android.
Also Try: Tiles (Xbox One)
Not As Charming As: Inbento (Switch)
Wait For It: Active Neurons (Xbox One)