The block pushing puzzle game has been a staple for decades. I remember actually typing in the BASIC code to my TRS-80 for Pengo in the mid 80’s. Sometimes You has just released an updated version of this type of puzzle with a new spin. Active Neurons is a puzzle game that aspires to train the player in spatial logical thinking. In other words, you will learn how things travel through an area and react with the surroundings.
The concept behind the game is simple – push a block in any of the 4 cardinal directions and it will travel until it hits something. Keep pushing it until you get it in the goal. While the game play is simple, the execution of the puzzles is where you will find the challenge awaits. Starting from the basic – just push it in the hole to the wild teleporters and moving danger blocks, these puzzles will keep you thinking.
The puzzles are divided into neurons, with the idea that completing a series fires up that piece of the brain on screen. Each neuron introduces a new, more difficult mechanic to the puzzles. You start by just having to push a block in a straight line to the exit, then using the walls. Soon you have red blocks that will end your attempt if you hit them, doors with switches, and even moving barricades. Unfortunately, the developers don’t have faith that the gamer will be able to solve each puzzle.
At the bottom of each puzzle is a solution button. With one click you can see the exact way to solve the puzzle. While this may be helpful to some on the harder puzzles further into the game, it decreases the incentive to work through each puzzle. Why spend a few hours solving puzzles if you can speed through them and get a quick 1,000 Gamer Score? Luckily the puzzles are engaging enough to keep most people working through them.
In a puzzle game like this, graphics are not super important. You want an aesthetically pleasing game to be sure, but over the top design can detract from game play. The look of the game is crisp, clean with no extra frills. It is easy to distinguish everything, which gives you more time to concentrate on the puzzle. The music is mellow and soothing. It is nice to have a soundtrack in the background that calms you while you are trying to sort out a puzzle.
Active Neurons boasts over 100 unique puzzles that have a moderate learning curve. There is the solution button if you get stuck, but most of the puzzles can be worked through without it. Coming out April 29th on XB1, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PS Vita. With a price tag under $5, any puzzle player should add it to their library. Even though there is not much replay value, you will get your play time in with this game.