You Have To Use The Rope: Zen Bound 2

There’s something sinister about Zen Bound 2. I’m not really aware of how the original game came to spawn this sequel, but I’m imagining that was a bit sinister too. The reason for this is that Zen Bound is about binding things up with a rope. And the rope is very tight.

Some thoughts on this below.

Each of Zen Bound 2’s levels consists in an inanimate, angular object, which has various pins stuck in it. There is a rope attached to a point on the object, and that rope spools up from the bottom of the screen as it is stretched over the object. The taut rope has to be wrapped around the object so has to hit a minimum target of coverage, usually involving the number of pins which must be tied, but also the amount of area which is “coloured” by the rope. You control the axes across which the object turns by dragging it either with left or right click (left turns purely in the direction you are dragging, while side to side on right-click rotates the object.)

What’s interesting about this is that while on the one hand the undertones of bondage are a little disturbing, the game is actually deeply therapeutic. It’s beautifully presented with a Japanese bonsai/orchid motif, and the “feel” of the rope stretching over the objects really works. It’s quite palpable, perhaps because it was designed to work with touchscreens.

The evolving puzzle element of the game is strong, too. The escalation in difficult is entirely smooth across the various “trees” and there are 76 levels in total, and it’s without time limit or anything else that might vex you. It’s, well, zen-like. Each level pushes things up a little, making you aware of just where the object is being bound by the rope. As things get tougher you have to become more precise with your binding, finding the exact patterns that will hit your target while using a minimal amount of rope. And of course it’s about figuring out an object in 3D dimensions, and exploring how a rope might hook over its contours. A little fetishistic, yes, but at least that means the rope physics are well developed. And, on consideration, there really aren’t enough spatial puzzles out there, which is a surprise given how many decades we’ve been designing games in 3D, and this is an inventive, compelling idea, well executed.

It’s only £3.49 on Steam, which seems about right, given the limitations of the thing. That said, I don’t really see why it doesn’t have a demo. A couple of levels would be perfect to let people see that the air of sinister rope use wears off quickly. Oh, well, here’s the video.


  1. Griddle Octopus says:

    Y’know, rope isn’t *just* used for bondage?

  2. Monchberter says:

    I feel a bit of frottage coming on.

  3. Ricc says:

    This is as much a look into Jim’s psyche, as it is about the game. ;)

    I’ve heard great things about the first Zen Bound on the iPhone, but who owns such a ludicrous device? This might not be as tactile, but it still looks very nice! More physics in games please, even if they are not of the explody variety.

  4. oepn says:

    For a demo they could even just link the original, when it was Zen Bondage. Though I guess that doesn’t help Mac users.

  5. mqzpla says:

    It’s an iPhone game. The first one is iPhone only and free, the second one costs $3, but $5 on the PC.

    • Nallen says:

      Yes, played this on iPhone

    • mqzpla says:

      Oops, wrong. The first one costs $2, and according to open is on the PC, but I did not see a link from the website.

    • mqzpla says:

      No, it is free (at least for now).
      for(i=0;i<100;++i) printf("I will check my information again before commenting");

    • Vague-rant says:

      Also available on maemo for something like 4 quid, but, I ended up spending the money on angry birds level packs instead.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Looks like you’re writing in java or c,
      I’m afraid to suggest a correction to thee.
      If one hundred separate lines is desired,
      then an escaped n is certainly required.
      When programming: attention to detail is key.

    • Thants says:

      He should also probably initialize that variable.

    • LionsPhil says:

      He does initialise that variable. What he doesn’t do is declare it, but that could theoretically have been done above should he (questionably) not want to restrict its scope to the loop body (or need compatability with truly ancient C compilers).

  6. Tom Davidson says:

    That horrible “music” isn’t in the game, is it?

  7. Berzee says:



    • Berzee says:

      This game looks cool, in a would-be-boring-if-it-wasn’t-cool sort of way. Jim is an unearthly creeper.

  8. Bioptic says:

    Does it count as bondage if the thing being tied up can’t move anyway?

    It’s ridiculous – £3.50 is hardly a princely sum, but something recoils in my mind from the concept of paying twice what the iPhone/iPad version costs. Which I haven’t bought because of all the 59p games. Zen Bound 1 was definitely worth experiencing though, and this is considerably more shiny.

  9. Bhazor says:

    One of my favourite iThing apps. So it’s good to see it’s now playable without getting streaky finger prints on everything.

  10. Bald Space Marine says:

    I like the developers name…….It suits the whole theme really well. If you catch my drift.

  11. clive dunn says:

    Been waiting for someone to mention iphones. Anyone tried the RAGE iphone game which was quietly released today?

  12. Στέλιος says:

    Hmm.. I have the first one on my Nokia N900. I don’t know if this really would lend itself to a full PC game.

  13. ZIGS says:

    I find this game disturbing

  14. Matzerath says:

    I love this concept! Let’s just hope the PC version isn’t moddable.

  15. terry says:

    Bought this earlier, it’s a very pleasing experience which feels like a well-crafted toy a carpenter would give a poor sobbing child (John Walker for example) for Christmas.

  16. Shadrach says:

    I really like this concept, and if I had an iPhone this would be the first game I’d get. Hopefully they can make an Android version too.

    These guys made the classic ROFL-games “Stair Dismount” and “Truck Dismount”. Crazy Finns :)

  17. iLOVEthewashingtonmonument says:

    Finally, a bondage game for Objectum Sexuals.

  18. Brumisator says:

    Apart from all the jokes… what is this game exactly? a model viewer where you can string rope around an object? To what end?

    Is this is a game, a toy, a tech demo, what?

    • terry says:

      It’s a puzzler. You wrap the rope around the object to paint it, only areas that are tightly bound will paint, so you have to use the ridges and structure of the object. There are 3 ratings for how well you complete the puzzle, which unlock other objects.

      It’s more of a toy than a game, but given its by the guys that made the Stair/Truck/etc. Dismount, its more experimental than most games and the depth comes from wanting to 100% each object :-)

    • Brumisator says:

      I guess that kind of clears it up.

      Danke my hard-hatted friend.

  19. Morris says:

    I like bondage…oh, and this game too :)

  20. gͣ̇̃͏͖͈̦͙͓͕̫̼̱o̰̬̮̺̾̑͗͘l̴̲͇̗̬̓͑̑ͪ͊d̽̀ͧ̂͋ͣ̃̍͏͎̹̹͕͈͔̰͝ě̺̻̦̳̞͓͓ͬ͜͜͡ņ̶̪̲̤̬̻̠̤̟ͩ̌̇ͩͫͯ̆͟_̣̻̩͉̬̮̪̥͑̅̍͋̀w̩̼̤͆̍ͦ͐̒ͥȯ̮̻̠̠̯͕̖̮ͨ͌͐͐ͭ̍̚̚ͅr̢̼̼̼̖̦ says:

    Yea! Zipstick @0:36

    Clickity Clickity memories.

  21. Ziv says:

    Totally gonna try it. Should I get it on the pc or iPhone?

  22. zipdrive says:

    Talking of rope games, I totally recommend you try (the Beta of) Rope Racket.
    here: link to

  23. Eddy9000 says:

    I loved the first one on my iPhone. Totally original mechanic and great presentation, and nailed the whole ‘easy to get through, difficult to score full points on’ thing.
    Also there was a nostalgia mode and a reflection mode where the models were titled with appropriate concepts relating to childhood, like a joystick titled ‘control’, and I found myself reflecting on the themes, facilitated by the plinky plinky music and mellow gameplay.
    Nearest thing I could compare it to is osmos, in feel rather than gameplay.

    Although the best thing about the iPhone was that you span and rotated it with your fingers and the object felt real, not sure if it’ll be the same on pc…

  24. a says:

    I want to lovingly/erotically tie up a spambot. Where is my game?