Active Neurons is a very calming 2D puzzle game designed to improve spatial thinking. The objective is to move a glowing block through various mazes, avoiding some obstacles and manipulating others in order to reach the neurons to charge them and complete each level.
There are 10 levels within each section of the brain to play through and once these are finished, the corresponding area of the brain lights up. There is also a second area of the game which moves through the body continuing on from the brain levels. Although based on a very simple concept, this game is visually pleasing and also feels rather rewarding when combined with the gentle sound effects and background music responding to the actions of the player.
The individual areas of the brain add a new obstacle which corresponds to the colour of the level, including portals, sliding blocks and traps which explode causing the level to restart. Each movement sees the players’ block slide entirely in one direction, so it certainly requires some forward planning to avoid becoming stuck or going round in circles! Sometimes there are multiple neurons to reach in one level, but as there are no time limits or penalties for getting it wrong, the whole experience is actually very relaxing.
The first levels are very simple (perhaps a little too easy for most) which might be somewhat off putting to begin with, but this does open the game up for anyone to enjoy or even as a family with so many puzzles to work through. The first part of the game isn’t too challenging as it just requires a bit of problem solving to work out. If anyone does get stuck, there is also the option to see how to complete the level, but it is quite unlikely that this would be necessary as it sort of defeats the point in the game really. It is a nice addition for the younger player though, especially with such simple controls and pleasing visuals it is good to find a game that really can be enjoyed by its intended audience.
I am sceptical about the potential for it being portrayed as a brain training game as it seems more likely to be played to relax, unwind and escape from the stress of life. It would be hard to measure how this game might be training the brain in real life but perhaps it is just promoting a message for the benefit of looking after the mind and body as opposed to actually training the brain. It does support the idea that when the mind is relaxed and not too stressed it is able to problem solve more efficiently, but as a console game some players may begin to lose interest without having any penalties for failing.
It doesn’t have much replay appeal once completed, but as there are so many levels it would certainly be difficult to memorise every solution. It could therefore still be replayed occasionally by some but unless the developers release some new levels it will likely be a game that is completed and then forgotten.
If played through to the end in one sitting there might not be more than a few hours of play in total, but considering it’s only a few quid on the store this is hardly something to complain about! For those who are particularly skilled in puzzle games it probably wont be overly challenging, but as a game to enjoy from time to time it certainly ticks all the boxes. There are achievements which unlock along the way but they are achieved pretty quickly through regular play, so it’s unlikely they’ll be the reason to come back to it either.
The simplicity and seamless movement between levels and menus, combined with the ambient soundtrack and gently glowing visuals will naturally draw anyone into the game. Considering that the player is essentially just moving a little white block in only 4 directions it is a surprisingly enjoyable experience overall. Active Neurons is simple, yet effective and certainly worth the low entry fee.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.