Zen Koi Review: a koi’s life is very relaxing


Beautiful visuals, smooth controls, and a deep rooted desire to “collect them all” turns raising these Koi into an incredibly satisfying passtime.


Developer: LandShark Games
Available for: iOS, Android


After spending way too much time raising (and repeatedly killing) my Mola Mola I had gotten the feel for fish rearing. Abandoning my own real fish I decided to fill the void the Mola Mola left in my heart when it stopped dying often enough to be fun.

Zen Koi is a completely different feel and style from Survive! Mola Mola but it’s a very well made game that manages to be both exciting and calming at the same time. In Zen Koi, you raise a koi fish from a young fish into an adult. As you grow you meet other fish, create offspring, and expand your pond.

If that were all there was to the game, it would stop being interesting within an hour. But LandShark Games has done an excellent job of merging open gameplay with goals that nudge you along.

One of the biggest draws of the game is collecting all the different koi colors and patterns. Once you reach adulthood, you can mate with other koi that wander into your pond. Mating consists of swimming close to them, keeping them inside a certain circle, until enough time has passed. The eggs you get from mating have a chance to hatch into a number of different colors and styles of koi, some more rare than others.

Hatching a koi gives you the option to play as that koi. Your baby koi have an advantage over the original – they already have some stats. Yes, your koi has stats that you can level up by eating the small fish and critters swimming in the pond. Each koi has three possible stats – Agility, Speed, and Rarity (which influences how rare its offspring will be) – that you can level up to a maximum of eight points.

Your koi also has quests, in a way. When you first start out, your pond is fairly small with only about two water dwelling wildlife available for you to much on. By collecting a specific number of certain critters you can create a rune which you can then use to expand the pond.

Zen Koi runs on microtransactions, but they are incredible non-intrusive. You can use in game currency (pearls) to make eggs hatch faster, to buy more space for your eggs, to get limited time speed or agility boosts, or to acquire a random koi of common or rare coloring. None of these things are essential to play and enjoy the game, which is a nice change from the usual recipe for microtransactions.

In fact, the limited number of koi you can have at any time make the game even more interesting – which colors and stats will you keep? It adds a small level of strategy to an already excellent game.

Above all though, Zen Koi is absolutely beautiful. The minimalistic and calming visuals are a pleasure to interact with and the simple controls (hold to move, tap on a fish to chase and gobble it up) make this one very appealing game in every way.