Do you think putting together broken bits of pottery sounds like fun? No, me neither. And I’d never imagine something that’s so tedious in real life would make a good basis for a game. However, that’s the theme behind this free Android app which draws upon an ancient Japanese philosophy and, after reading some reviews, I was convinced that I had to give it a go myself.

Kintsukuroi is a free game for Android devices made by British game developer Chelsea Saunders (also known as pixelatedcrown) and billed as “an Android experiment”. It’s been garnering some good reviews, and this one in particular intrigued me enough to try something that I’d usually pass over. While such artsy, Zen-inspired games are fashionable with the hipster crowd who pride themselves on always being one step ahead of digital trends, the concept of kintsukuroi has been around since way before smartphones and mobile gaming.

In Japanese philosophy and art there is a long-standing worldview and aesthetic called wabisabi, which celebrates the imperfect and accepts change. Compare that to the modern world, where we tend to look for perfection in products and throw things away as soon as we deem them worn out, and especially if they’re broken. Looking into Japan’s past traditions can offer an antithesis to this throw-away culture. Kintsukuroi, or kintsugi, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a kind of lacquer mixed with a precious metal such as gold. This makes the seams visible and incorporates the repair work into the design, showing that something broken can be remade as something beautiful.


Moving on from the lesson in Japanese aesthetics, the premise of the game is just as its name suggests; you put together the broken shards of the bowls, cups and vases to remake them into a whole again. To summarise it in just a few words, it’s a 3D, Zen-like jigsaw puzzle. You can rotate the outline of the object you’re putting together 360 degrees to inspect it, then rotate each piece a set number of ways and drag it to work out where it fits. When you hover over the right area it will highlight your piece, and when you let go it drops into place with a satisfying clink. The visual design is clean and minimalistic with white backgrounds so that you can focus completely on the task at hand.


There are 20 levels with both a timed and an untimed mode for each. The untimed mode is perfect for relaxation as you take your time while enjoying the lovely music and satisfying sound effects when rotating the pieces or fitting them into place. The timed mode’s music is slightly more invigorating, and the timer counting down can be quite nerve-wracking. The levels get more challenging as you go along, but never to the point of frustration. It’s not too difficult once you get the hang of rotating things, and since the piece lights up when you’re holding it in the right place you’ll never find yourself stuck for long. This means that it’s a very short game, but there is replay value in trying to get your times down as low as possible.


▼ The gameplay examples in this promotional video will give you a good idea of what it’s all about.

From its name to the ceramic designs, the game takes many inspirations from Japan. Even the music, by Clark Powell, includes traditional Japanese instruments. Saunders brings it all together in a neat little experience that can be enjoyed universally, and draws on the past while being distinctly modern. If you think this kind of Zen game is right up your street, then you can head on over to the Google Play store to download it for free. It’s a nice little distraction for when you have a few minutes to chill out and contemplate life, but don’t want to do so without your phone.

Sources: Android Experiments pageChelsea Saunders, Kintsukuroi on Google Play h/t Vulcan Post
Top image: pixelatedcrown on YouTube
Insert images:, Chelsea Saunders