May 31th, 2013. That’s the date Eagre Games decided to take a shot and put ZED on Kickstarter. They quickly became one of Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love” and easily reached their goal. ZED is a game that immediately grabbed my attention because of its visuals. If you look at the screenshots on Steam that are used to showcase the game, you’ll get what I’m talking about! Described as ‘an adventurous puzzle journey into beautiful and unpredictable dreamworlds’, I’m ready to go in!

Rooms were usually in color but I enjoyed the black and white one very much!
  • Visuals: The graphical aspect is definitely where ZED shines. And when I say it shines, it really sparkles big time! So you enter all kinds of ‘rooms’ on your journey, including your house, the sewers, a garden around Halloween, and the streets of your neighborhood. Since the game includes a lot of walking around, looking around at the artwork is definitely what I enjoyed most about this game. Attention was brought to detail and really finishing all the different scenarios. This game is truly a masterpiece when it comes to the visuals.
  • Music and voice-acting: Together with the visuals, the music and voice-acting are also exquisite. The soundtrack that the game provides, fits in with the atmosphere of the game and with the various scenarios. The combination of these graphics and music is something you will highly enjoy! When entering a new room, the protagonist talks about memories that are coming back to him and his voice sounds soft and calming. Again, this fits in with the rest of the game perfectly.
  • Journal: The items you collect in every room will be drawn in your journal, along with some extra information. This gives a little more insight into the memories of the protagonist and is a nice touch to the game. It again shows that the developers put a lot of thought and work into the details of ZED and that’s something I greatly appreciate.
Reading into the journal a little.
  • Story: The game is mostly story-driven since it lacks challenge (as you’ll read in my what is bad section). Centering a game around a story can be great but I wasn’t always feeling the story. Sure, it’s a touching narrative of an aging artist suffering from dementia and trying to recover some lost memories for one final project: an artwork for his daughter. The story resolves greatly around regret and not having been a good parent and sometimes it just sounded like whining to me. Maybe it just felt like an old man wanting to be loved after he’s gone and people should just forget his mistakes. It feels a bit forced.
One of the oh-so-difficult puzzles
  • So easy: The gameplay is overwhelmingly easy. You basically enter a new room, collect a few items and when you’ve found them all, you’ll hear a specific tune that’ll indicate that a puzzle has appeared on the door to the next room. Now, this sounds fun and it could be. But as it is now, the items are super easy to find, they’re not even hidden?! And on top of that, they’re sparkling, making it even easier to find them. There is zero challenge here. Now, for the puzzle that appears on the door. It’s a slide puzzle that only has a few tiles. Thing is, it’s not so much an intelligence test as it is a memory test. Somewhere in every room, there’s a fluor drawing of the puzzle that will appear, so you basically just have to remember the picture and boom, you’ll be out of the room in two minutes. I guess the idea of memory not only playing an important part in the story but in the gameplay as well, is a nice touch but it also takes away any challenge.
  • Quick playthrough: Since the game is so easy to play, you’ll get through it in no time. And if I’m being honest, I could’ve probably finished this game very quickly, but after a while, I just got bored with walking around and clicking. The lack of challenge prevented me from having fun. So even though it’s a quick playthrough, you might take breaks sometimes because ZED can start feeling boring. I mean, if I’m paying 15 Euros, I want a little more.

Score: 65%
ZED is a game that feels more like an audiobook that allows you to interact with the story, but just barely. The concept is great, the visuals are amazing and highly detailed, and the music and voice acting stood out as well. The gameplay is where ZED failed, but honestly, if you look at the Steam page, the developers do mention that this game is all about the story. So my tip is that you take a good look at the description of this game. If you want to enjoy a touching story with some easy puzzling, go for it. If you’re looking for actual challenging puzzles and exciting gameplay, don’t bother. Oh, by the way, ZED also offers VR if you’re into that!

Developer: Eagre Games Publisher: Cyan Ventures
Played on: PC
Time to beat: 3 hours
Perfect for: story-driven game fans
Steam Game Store link: Click here