Akin to many of the other recent titles that have players managing their own unique real estate, Zen Garden however takes a more realistic-looking approach. Users are able to create their own gardens atop rooftops or backyards and tailor them to the themes of their choosing. Currently, the game has over 75 forms of flora and decorations coming from all over the world, with more to be added in time.
Each day, players receive in-game currency, Zennies, to spend within the game’s market. Other game items can be purchased for anywhere from $0.10 to $1.00. Furthermore, the game has added social features allowing players to acquire what are called “birthstones” from their friends and trade those in for various garden products.
As the game is also connected to Komen, donations are also highly encouraged. Players that donate are granted a pink ribbon, which in time will be redeemable for weekly rewards. For now, players are simply featured as Top Contributors.
Thus far, the game has acquired $5,000 from donations towards its $10,000 goal, so it looks like they are off to a good start. Hive7 producer Rob Carroll says Hive7 and Socialsoft “will donate 10% of the retail price of all in-game money sold, with a guaranteed minimum donation of $25,000.00.”
However, we do have a few minor complaints. The placement of items is often awkward, and it can be difficult to select smaller objects when larger ones are about (especially floor tiles next to hedges), as you constantly select and move the bigger ones. A simple locking mechanism would be ideal in this case. Also, you can’t really place items all the way to the edge of the screen, so you end up with some unwanted empty space, but this too is an easy change.
Beyond these usability gripes, the only other issue we found is load time. Every single time you select an item to place it takes a few seconds to have it become movable. In a decorating themed app like this, it should be instant. In an app in which you place dozens, if not hundreds, of items for a design, even three seconds is too long. If you look at the image above, that garden is probably close to 100 items.
Nonetheless, the issues with Zen Garden as a game are more or less nitpicks. It is actually a pretty good looking game. It certainly has a lot of room to grow, but Hive7 and Socialsoft are off to a great start.