Active Neurons 2 from Publishers Sometimes You, Usanik STDand Developer Nikolai Usachev
A great sequel with fun new mechanics, nice soundtrack, and challenging puzzles.
A Logic Puzzle
This is the sequel to Active Neurons (Review Here ). There are more puzzles, new mechanics added to the game, and a great new soundtrack.
We noticed several changes/improvements from the original Active Neurons. Previously, all of the puzzles were single screen. Now, some puzzles will require you to move to a second screen which adds a bunch of new challenges. Solving the puzzles now comes with a bigger animated explosion that provides a very satisfying feeling. We also noticed that some of the options available in the first game are not present in this game; namely, Color Blind mode and Monochrome mode. This is a let down for those that use these accessibility features. Hopefully they’ll be added in a future update.
The soundtrack is great with lofi beats to keep you relaxed when struggling with a puzzle. They’ve also added an RGB sound graph across the bottom of the screen that visualizes the soundtrack. During our game play the background music cut out at one point for several minutes. Quitting and reloading seemed to fix it.
Much like the first game solving the puzzle requires moving an energy block to the goal(s) located elsewhere on the level. Once you press the direction you want the block to move, it will continue in that direction until it hits an obstacle. You will need to use these obstacles along with portals or the walls around the edge of the screen to help you maneuver through the level.
There are over 150 puzzles to enjoy and several unique game mechanics are introduced as you progress through the levels. As you make your way along this journey you will discover the 12 greatest inventions of humanity and reflect on the power of human thought. Once you complete the 10 levels for each invention you are provided with information about the invention. We really liked these nuggets of knowledge gained along the way.
If you get really stuck on a puzzle there is the option to see the solution for the puzzle at the press of a button. That was present in the original game and returns for the second game. It’s really nice for those that are impatient or just really stuck to be able to keep moving through the game. There is also a convenient reset button which restarts the puzzle in a second or 2. This got a lot of use for us especially in the later levels where mistakes cannot be recovered from. If you like the challenge of actually figuring things out for yourself, be careful when restarting levels as it is easy to accidentally select the solution button instead of the reset button. Fortunately, you can stop the solution from completing even if you accidentally click it.
It is a very enjoyable gameplay experience. The puzzles start out pretty easy and increase the difficulty at a nice pace while steadily introducing new mechanics to keep the game fresh.
Much like the original game there is little to no replayability after completing the game. If there is a 3rd game we would love to see leaderboards, challenges, or time trials added. Some would consider it a good thing that these additions aren’t present while others may find they miss having a reason to replay levels and the ability to compete with friends and strangers.
Active Neurons 2 is available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Mask of Mists from Publishers Sometimes You, Stately Snailand Developer 9 Eyes Game Studio
Minimal combat challenges, some relatively easy puzzles, not a lot of story. Enjoyable but short game.
First-person Adventure Puzzler
You are a mercenary who has been sent to locate a missing person, the Archmage. This is where the story starts and stays until the end of the game. There is very little story development in the middle of the game. The majority of it is revealed by finding and reading things found through exploration. You will need to find clues, collect items, loot chests, find stone masks, solve puzzles, and explore the colorful magical world all in search of the Archmage.
The combat is pretty simple and can be rather repetitive. You only have a single sword and pistol for your melee and ranged attacks. There are only 3 different types of enemies in the game and a single boss fight. With so little variety in your enemies it is easy to figure out how to avoid their attacks. Given that the game is set in such a magical world we would have loved to see the option to use magic in one way or another.
There is a crafting mechanic for potions. Before you can craft the potions you will need to locate recipes and the ingredients for them. Some of these are hidden in chests while others are out on a table waiting to be picked up. They did a good job making sure you never felt like you needed to hunt down the items. You could just pick them up while on your way to the next location and there were extra in case you missed a few.
The artstyle is a pleasant Disney-esque fantasy cartoon-scape. They did a great job capturing the look and feel of the indoor, outdoor, and underground areas with changes in lighting and color.
One of the nice touches they added was the Navigation Crystal mechanic. These allow you to leave a ruin after reaching the end of it without having to make your way all the way back through the level. Activating these is also a requirement for moving the story forward and unlocking the final area.
Most of the puzzles are easy to solve. They can often be solved with minimal trial and error. However, the game also provides an answer key nearby, sometimes in the next room. There are a few puzzles that require platforming. These can be a little difficult due to the inherent challenges of platforming from a first person perspective.
All in all, the game can be completed in just a few hours and was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Mask of Mists is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Aircraft Evolution from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Satur Entertainment
Overall a pretty enjoyable game, decent graphics but a little short as it can be completed in about 3 hours.
A shoot ‘em up like, action, side scroller with a hint of RPG elements.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fight your way through 4 time periods, starting from early WWI all the way to a futuristic war. You’ll be attacking the enemy and reducing their bases to smoldering ruins. You need to utilize all of the weapons in your arsenal to accomplish this objective.
There are a total of 40 levels to play through. As you move through the levels and through time from WWI and into the future, both your available aircraft and the enemy equipment will evolve. The enemies start out as simple tanks and soldiers before evolving into plasma cannons on tanks, airships, and turrets.
While your enemies evolve automatically you do not. You will unlock different aircraft after collecting experience and leveling up. You can upgrade your aircraft using the in game currency. The upgrade system is done very well as it is easy and clear what your upgrade will do for your aircraft.
There are random resource drops in the form of crates floating down with a parachute. These contain fuel, repair kits, and different types of bombs (which are your primary weapon) all of which you can use as soon as you pick them up. The repair kits and cluster bombs come in very handy.
You are also able to purchase these same items from the store between levels. We found that each of the bombs are useful for different strategies or play styles. We ended up finding our favorite and sticking with it most of the time as it seemed to work better for our play style.
At the end of each of the era’s you will come across a boss type battle which helps break up the repetitiveness of the levels as it adds a bit of a challenge and serves as a landmark and transition to the next time period.
Aircraft Evolution is available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Great Perhaps from Publisher Drageus Games and Developer Caligari Games
Unexpectedly good story for a cool puzzles game.
2D Side Scroller Time Travel Puzzler
You play as an astronaut named Kosmos. While working on a space station something happens; the Earth as you know it is destroyed by natural cataclysms. You choose to go into cryo sleep hoping to be woken up once it is safe to return home. After 36,524 days (otherwise known as 100 years), you are finally woken up to find out there is no communication with Earth and you have no idea what happened. You decide to make your way back to earth to discover what happened and what is left.
You travel back to earth with L9, an AI that accompanies you on your journey trying to discover what happened to the earth. While back on earth L9 is able to find one human signature left on the planet. While trying to locate the one human left on the planet you find an old lantern that allows you to travel between the current timeline and the past from before the cataclysms. This is the main mechanic for the game.
You will come across puzzles and mini-games that will require you to get items that are only accessible in one or the other timelines. Your AI companion will give you hints if you get lost or are having issues finding the solution to the puzzles. It’s easy to spot the items you can interact with as they have an effect that makes them glimmer. At first you might be a little unsure what to do with the item but after a few minutes of doing the wrong thing with it L9 will step in with a hint. Each of the timelines has enemies and objects you will need to avoid. This is often accomplished by switching between them.
The alternate timelines game mechanic is done very well and is enjoyable. This is used throughout the game for everything including solving puzzles, bypassing obstacles, storytelling, and progression.
The artstyle is hand drawn which is great to see and is done nicely. It reminded us of Valiant Hearts. The soundtrack is great and is a little different depending on which timeline you are in. They did a good job making the music fit the state of the world in the different timelines.
The story is good and takes you to several places in Russia. You get to interact with a few other characters in the past and have real conversations with them. You start to see the relationship develop between Kosmos and L9 throughout the later parts of the story. L9 becomes more than just an AI, she starts to become a real character.
The game does a good job at making you empathetic toward the characters. Both the writing and voice acting are great and make the conversations and people feel real.
Sadly it is rather short and can be completed in around 2 hours. After completing the story there is very little reason to replay the game.
The Great Perhaps is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Superliminal from Publisher and Developer Pillow Castle Games
Overall an enjoyable 3D puzzle experience. Fun narration and mechanics. Reminiscent of portal but definitely a different take on the 3D puzzle genre.
A puzzle game that uses perception to find the solution.
Superliminal is a first person puzzler. You’ll be interacting with and manipulating objects using perspective to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and work your way through the stages to get to the exit. The game has a few similarities to the first portal game and likely drew some inspiration from there.
The game does a good job teaching you the basics and giving you ideas of what is possible to do during the introductory stages. The key mechanic centers around relative perspective with objects. There are a lot of optical illusions throughout the stages. Some of these are related to how to solve the puzzles and some are just there to add to the perception bending experience. This mechanic is used very well and can be fun to play around with seeing what you can interact with and how changing the perception or viewing angle alters reality.
There are a number of hidden collectibles across the 9 levels. Fortunately, the level select menu tells you which types you’re missing some of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how many of each are on each level or how many you’re still missing. Finding all of the collectibles and secret areas are the only thing that really provides much in the way of replayability since the puzzles and solutions are always the same.
The game has a really great lofi soundtrack which helps keep you relaxed when you get stuck on the more complicated puzzles. They’ve also done a great job with the sound effects produced by the different items. Smaller versions of items make quieter higher pitched sounds while larger versions of items make louder lower pitched sounds.
Most of the puzzles can be figured out within a few minutes depending on player skill though executing the solution can be a little tougher at times. There are a few puzzles that ramp up the challenge/difficulty and can take a long time to figure out the solution. There are also secret areas and what seem to be red herrings to distract you from the finish line.
We did run into a few small issues with items glitching or clipping through other objects. We also saw some of these items disappear and then respawn in their original locations. The perspective in the hallways and some of the rooms can also feel a little trippy. One of our reviewers found that their eyes tired quickly playing the game and they needed to take breaks to rest their eyes.
Superliminal is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Clash Force from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Spicy Gyro Games
Feels like a mix of Megaman and Contra on the NES.
A side scroller platformer
Clash force is a fairly standard side scrolling platform. There are 3 different members of the Clash Force that you can play as, the only difference between them is cosmetic. The game has 3 difficulty levels; Normal, Hard and Expert. Hard appears to have more enemies while Expert has the same amount of enemies as Hard but you have 1 less health bar and the option to recover health has been removed.
As in any standard platformer you’ll progress to the right and shoot the enemies that appear on screen, most enemies only take 1 or 2 shots. While playing you will come across items to change your weapon, find hearts to heal your health, and a shield item that looks like a crest with an S in the middle that protects you from one hit before breaking. Fortunately, you have unlimited lives which can be helpful during the difficult areas of the levels or for less skilled gamers.
Your life bar has 3 hearts. Unlike most games, getting hit doesn’t just take away some health. You’ll lose any upgraded weapon you picked up as well as 1 heart. Luckily hearts and weapons upgrade items spawn a few times per level so you can restore what you lost. To avoid taking damage when the enemies shoot at you you will need to time your jumps since there is no way to duck or block the attacks.
The game and levels are pretty short as the levels can be completed within 2-3 minutes or less and the game can be completed in under 1 hour. There are 3 levels in each area before a boss fight. There are a total of 21 levels in the game. The boss fights remind us a lot of Megaman vs Dr. Wily fighting someone in a robot. Each of the bosses have a pattern of attacks that are easy to figure out and which is good since you’ll have to figure out the pattern in order to beat the boss.
After completing each level you are rewarded with a bonus area and a chance to pick your weapon upgrade or get a shield. If you are happy with what you have you can run through without picking up anything. This was nice to see as it gave us the option to leave without having to risk losing our weapon of choice.
The levels start becoming a little more challenging with new types of enemies. The platforming becomes harder too with the addition of moving platforms.
There are 5 different weapon items that you come across and you will be able to find your favorite after a few minutes. One weapon in particular really reminded us of the Spread shot from Contra which was our favorite weapon.
The game has the same background music on each level as well as the same sound effect for shooting no matter which weapon you are using. Since you will spend most of your time holding the shoot button you will get tired of the sound effect.
Clash Force is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.