Zengence: Take Aim With Every Breath Is A Meditation Rail-Shooter For Good Vibes

Zengence: Take Aim With Every Breath is a relaxation action game that’s close to serenity, provided it refines its breath detection.

When I first learned about Zengence, I could hardly believe the premise. Combining one of the most rapid-paced, reflex-heavy genres, born from the heyday of arcades, with the art of meditative deep breathing? It’s a wild prospect—one perfect for the world of VR. In my time with the game thus far, I’ve enjoyed the overall execution, with its EDM beats, minimalist aesthetic, and rapid-fire elemental hand blasts, yet there are a few hurdles it needs to surmount with updates.

The core gameplay centers around inhaling silently, then exhaling audibly, with each exhale revealing hidden enemies across each level as you gently slide forward. You can only reveal enemies by exhaling, so there’s an incentive to take long exhales, slowing your breath while emphasizing taking aim.

Dodging incoming fire is as simple as ducking and moving – though the game is Room Scale, you can feasibly play it sitting or standing still. The environment also becomes clearer during exhales. The shooting is fairly simple – just point and fire, with no ammo to manage, and only the wrinkle of various magical spells that change based on each level.

It’s all intuitive, letting the minimalist environments and soothing electronica soundtrack wash over you. For those who are deaf, there are visual and vibrational prompts. Zengence truly makes a compelling argument that it’s ready to be an effective means of cathartic, immersive meditation. It’s sitting somewhere between Flower on the PS3 and Pistol Whip, which is an incredible combination!

Well, except for one hitch.

You see, I’m fairly congested at the best of times, and well… that seems to very easily throw off the microphone detection used to register if you are or aren’t taking deep breaths. So instead of just exhaling naturally? I had to start bellowing Inception-like “Whaaaaaam” noises to reveal enemies. To be perfectly fair, I was laughing afterwards, so it still functions as a release mechanism, but I was scared a family member might walk past my office door when I started bellowing.

If you’re living alone, this obviously isn’t an issue, but I’d say the calibration needs a touch more attuning. Whatever the case may be, I still enjoyed my time with Zengence but it needs further updates to hone it properly. There’s a Zen Garden mode where you can practice your deep breathing, daily challenge maps that remix the enemy locations across the 30 included stages, and some good replay value. If this sounds up your alley, I’d recommend giving it a whirl, but be prepared to test your lung capacity if you plan on hitting 100% on each stage.

Zengence: Take Aim With Every Breath is available now on the Meta Quest platform.

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