Developers 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.
[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]