ZedRay


PsychotronicZedRayDevelopers Kenji Sihan and Bela von Hoffman say their new reflex/puzzle game is inspired by the classic Snake Game, by Missile Command, and by color-matching games. I would add in the light cycles from Tron, and maybe a pinch of ChuChu Rocket. Then I would put the whole thing inside of a chicken fryer, insert the chicken into a turkey, and stuff the whole mess inside… oh, let's say a pelican. Roast at 325 degrees for 5 hours, sprinkle oregano, and you've got yourself one tasty monstrosity. Mmm… turpelicken.

ZedRay is kind of a tasty monstrosity itself, an exciting and original game that can't quite decide how to present its ideas.

Your goal is to destroy all the neon light beams by directing them into each other. Beams of two different colors will stop cold, waiting to be freed, while beams of the same color will vaporize. Depending on your personality type, you can either think of it as pairing beams of heavenly light in blessed eternal union, or as bashing deadly missiles together. Either way, if you let one hit the ground, you lose.

Control is with the mouse. Beams travel downward at a constant rate, but you can decide whether they go left or right. To change a beam's direction, click near its tip. Click on a beam's body to accelerate it into one further down the screen. Oh, and if it's a beam that isn't moving yet, click on its tip to jump-start it, which is the same gesture you use for changing direction.

Hit the interactive tutorial as your first stop, and after that, try the Beginner levels in the Puzzle section. There's another set right below that, labeled "Easy", but I think that got mis-translated from "Yikes". The ones marked "Insane" probably don't exist. The Arcade Mode will also spank you and serve you your mouse hand on a platter, at least until you develop some unique skills.

Analysis: ZedRay is a simple game, but it makes you flex unusual brain muscles. It's like untangling a living, angular ball of laser yarn. If you go in expecting a pure thinking game, you'll be surprised at how some levels force you to click quickly and flawlessly. We're talking split-second timing, here.

The mouse control is a valiant attempt to keep the control system accessible, but it's hard to find the right spot to click when several lasers are traveling close together. The little arrows that serve as visual cues for this are clear, but there's an attention disconnect between pointing with the cursor and watching the little white indicator arrow pop up. A sound effect would have helped.

One more gripe. You have a chance to look at each puzzle before clicking Start, in order to figure out an attack plan. However, some beams aren't moving when a level begins, but they look identical to the ones that are. Which means you often can't make a plan, and you will definitely fail on the first attempt.

Gosh, that sounds unplayable! you must be thinking. Well, it's not. It's great, actually. Zedray is a highly inventive game with just a few interface hiccups. You get plenty of puzzles to solve, an unlimited arcade mode, a level editor, and an attractive spartan presentation. You can't go wrong with neon primaries on black stone.

Play ZedRay

[Note: Since this article was published, the authors of the game have made several updates to the interface. These changes have improved the play experience quite a bit. - Psychotronic]

8 Comments

Thanks for your kind and in-depth review, I really appreciate it. However, from the review I get the impression that this is my idea and that I worked on this game alone but this is not true. Bela von Hoffman helped a lot with testing and commenting on many details, like those arrows. This game is also his idea. So this game was really a two man project. :)

[No problem, Kenji. Review is updated. Thanks for letting me know. - Psychotronic]

I've just beaten the Hard levels (on a touchpad, no less =P), and I'm really enjoying this one. Hard 8 was killer. The timing was so precise I'm wondering if I was doing it wrong. XD

Interestingly, I'm finding that as I get used to the rules, the puzzles are really rather simple and it's more about mouse acrobatics. Not to say that that's a bad thing, though. Now that I think about it, it's kind of comparable with Popopop's execution. Except that this game's a lot more fair. =)

Two gripes about this game:

Warning: this game is not colourblind-friendly.

Sometimes the start and restart buttons don't work when Game Over, so then I have to go back to the level select screen and click on the level again.

Other than that, it is a nifty game. Currently playing through the Easy levels.

Mmm… turpelicken.

I like the idea very much. Just wish the puzzles were not based on timing and reflexes.

Fixed some issues with the game

1. It is now possible to see difference between moving and non-moving beams before start. Non-moving beams are now pulsating.
(The issue was pointed out by the Editor)

2. It is always possible to restart a puzzle.
(Before: If a beam was hitting ground, restart didn't work - this bug was introduced when fixing 1 above)

3. The background in Level editor is now black and the buttons are displayed correctly.
(Before: When the game was launched from this site the background was white and the buttons where not seen)

A response to the comment about that the puzzles are based on timing/reflexes: We have some puzzles where beams are non-moving from start. Like for example Beginner 6. Maybe we should add more levels of this kind.

As much as I'd like to say it is, this game is simply not apealling to me. Poor graphics and overly difficult puzzles... I'll pass.

We have done some small updates to increase the distinction between bend and fast commands. This update adresses (at least part of-) the mouse-over pointer issue that was pointed out by the Editor.

- A sound is now played when the mouse-over arrow is changed between bend/fast for a beam.
- The dead zone between bend and fast click-areas is removed.

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