Zeds – Review

A review of Zeds I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

The barrier between games players and the people who make them has been growing narrower every year.

New tools, like for example Unity, make it easier to make to games whilst digital distribution makes its easier to get them into people’s hands. However, even the most basic tools need some level of creativity, but what if you could make a game literally in your sleep? This is where Zeds comes onto the scene.

Zeds is a game designed to help you explore your sleeping patterns. All you need to do is fire up the app when you go to bed, slip it in your mattress and go to sleep. Using the motion sensors and what not in the phone the app tracks your movements; it’s able to tell when you’re in a deep sleep or tossing and turning. Once you wake up the app takes this data and turns it into a game.

What kind if game? An auto run game, a genre popularised by Canabalt and Temple Run: your character runs along a platform and you have to tap the screen to jump over obstacles or swipe to take down enemies. You have three Zeds running along, which are essentially your lives. Get as far as you can, go to sleep and try again on another level. You can play restful sleeps you’ve had, short sleeps, random sleeps and even share sleeps with other people. As a hook to get you to play the game it’s a very simple idea but one that grabs your attention.

It is then the job of the game to hold this attention. Zeds is simple to control with a decent art style, even if the controls can be a little loose at times. This is specifically when it comes to killing the enemies that litter the levels; you need to swipe over them in certain directions to kill them which can’t feel a little hit of miss. The jumping, the main bull of the game, works fine which is the main thing with a game like this. Zeds also allows you to upgrade and customise your characters, it’s not exactly anything deep but it’s a nice way to keep you coming back to the game and keep you playing.

As an education tool, a way to spread knowledge about good sleep habits, Zeds is a success. It includes a good chunk of writing going into sleep and why it is important and way to improve yours. Edutainment tends to be a dirty word in games but there’s no reason for that to be the case.

On the other side of this coin Zeds, as a game, is a bit thin. It’s main calling card is the levels generated by your sleep so you shouldn’t play the same game twice. As a change to your normal alarm clock it works fine with the added bonus of a game included with it. Also, it’s free and you can never argue with a price like that.

Three stars out of five

Originally published July 17th 2013

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