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Zen Zone

Zen Zone (Oculus Go & Gear VR)

Zen Zone

The VR Shop - Silver Award
System: Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Go
Price at Time Of Review: £3.99
Comfort Rating: Green (No Movement)
Genre: Relaxation and Meditation
Input: Touchpad
Best Playing Position: Sitting, Standing
Multi-Player: No
Age Rating: PG

Description: Zen Zone is relaxation designed specifically for Virtual Reality. It contains 3 different relaxation experiences. The first two each takes a new approach to guided relaxation with calming breath and body visualisations that are only possible in Virtual Reality. The third is your own personal Zen garden. Rake the sand, rearrange the rocks or just teleport around until you find the perfect spot to relax.

Review: It’s just what the doctor ordered. Some time for yourself. I’ve had some experience with meditation to escape the stressful life I’ve been leading occasionally. I’ve tried several methods, some useless and some very helpful. Trying out Zen Zone I believe, that VR can play an important role in the future of meditation. The app achieves that with two different approaches. Two meditation exercises and your very own Japanese rock garden.

When you enter the app you get taken in straight away by the calming ambience, created by soothing music and relaxing colours. You have a cursor that looks a bit like a fairy with tiny sparks trailing it when it moves. When you move it towards the bottom it produces rings on the water like surface. You can even dive into it and come out at another spot. Try it. It’s fun. Of course, that main menu has more features than enabling you to pretend to be a water loving fairy. Here you can choose between a Japanese zen garden and two guided relaxation exercises one focusing on muscle relaxation and the other on deep breathing. You know the two latter from RL meditation. The trick here though is visualisation.

In my opinion, the muscle relaxing exercise leaves a lot of room for improvement. The graphics are too crude and I found the visualisation of the body more distracting than helpful. The voice is soothing though and with my eyes closed, I found a decent measure of relaxation. But why would I use VR goggles then, right? The breathing exercise though is an entirely different matter. I love the way the app visualises inhaling and exhaling breaths. The exercise itself is very basic but gives us an idea of what this app will eventually be with coming updates.

The same can be said about the Japanese rock garden. The idea is brilliant. Just like in a real zen garden you are supposed to find relaxation in the work required to perfect the garden. Moving rocks and raking the white sand until you’re 100% satisfied takes some practice, but that’s the point of the exercise. I would’ve liked some more features though, like rotating the rocks into a position I like, but I’m sure those are things we can look forward to in coming updates. I quite enjoyed myself creating the perfect rock garden and even spend some considerable time afterwards just sitting there and using the place as my very own little haven to relax and meditate.

Though Zen Zone seems far from complete, it is a great indicator of things to come. Better graphics and more detailed meditation exercises would make a real difference, but I consider this app to be a great start and most certainly a brilliant idea. I know I’ll spend quite some time perfecting my rock garden (a real Japanese rock garden is never finished) and I love the breathing exercise. It’s definitely worth trying it out and I’m looking forward to finding out how the app will be developing in future updates.

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