Puzzle games have become more popular on the indie circuit over the last few years. Gaming is meant to be relaxing, so it shouldn’t be surprising that their popularity at least from the developing side has increased. Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is the latest to debut on the PS4 and is meant to be a game that trains the player in spatial thinking. Puzzle games supposedly stop the brain from going stale, so it’ll be interesting if Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is worth the cognitive exercise.
Active Neurons – Puzzle Game’s blurb states that by controlling the power of thought, you must charge the neurons, the more the neurons are charged then the healthier the brain. This probably makes perfect sense, but as a game Active Neurons – Puzzle Game just wants you to move a neuron around until it charges one or more neurons to complete the level. Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is a very simple game, the only inputs are moving your neuron up, down, left and right. Each level is effectively a maze containing various obstacles in the form of walls or other kinds of neurons. Using your simple directional inputs, you move your neuron around so it eventually connects with the neuron that needs charging, all very straightforward.
There are 100 or so levels split up initially into separate 10 level sections, usually named after a colour i.e. green neuron, red neuron, purple neuron etc. As you progress in Active Neurons – Puzzle Game, new mechanics come into play that gradually increase the difficulty and your tactics. Early on, you just need to move your neuron around, then the first obstacle appears, a red neuron which if touched will destroy yours. Other additional neurons includes those that can destroy others, neurons you can move and neurons that teleport. The later levels will include a number of these neurons, so you need to plan ahead and in some cases you will put yourself in a position where you will need to restart, which is particularly annoying if you managed to get close to the end and you’re simply defeated by the fact you can’t manoeuvre your neuron into place. The map maze structure in Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is replicated throughout, which limits the appeal of replayability somewhat.
Active Neurons – Puzzle Game and its levels can become quite complicated to complete, requiring maybe thirty or more inputs from yourself and that’s completing a level as efficiently as possible. Luckily from the start you can view the solution to finish the level, for the puzzling aficionados this may be seen as cheating but the solution is shown in it’s entirety, so you need to memorise it which is harder than it sounds if several inputs are required. As mentioned before when you reach the end of Active Neurons – Puzzle Game there is no reason to go back, it’s very much a single player, one play experience. Had there been a two or more player mode or some kind of high score model in place then Active Neurons – Puzzle Game could have added an extra few hours to its longevity.
Graphically, Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is a very relaxing experience, there isn’t much colour or content on each level but smooth transitions, as neurons move interspersed with the neuron graphic that fills up, definitely relaxes the mind. Musically Active Neurons – Puzzle Game sounds like your in the middle of a massage, a lift or a mindfulness course. Generally Active Neurons – Puzzle Game comes across as a pleasant experience, the simple mechanics mixed with its graphical style make it a very calming adventure of sorts.
Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is a brain challenging title which at the same time brings a level of calmness to the mind. Unfortunately like most puzzle games, if you don’t like the first 10 levels then you won’t enjoy the remaining levels. Active Neurons – Puzzle Game is a simple game with simple mechanics that work generally well it just lacks depth and a reason for you go back to replay it. If you are looking for a tranquil and restful game which makes your brain think strategically, then Active Neurons – Puzzle Game may well be that time filler you were looking for.