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Active Neurons 2 Review

Active Neurons 2 from Publishers Sometimes You, Usanik STD and 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 Review

Mask of Mists from Publishers Sometimes You, Stately Snail and 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 Review

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.

Active Neurons Review

Active Neurons from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Nikolai Usachev

Relaxing music, challenging puzzles, excellent accessibility options

A logic puzzle

Each puzzle is contained within a single screen. You’ll need to move an energy block to the flashing goal located elsewhere on the screen. Once you press the direction you want the block to move it will move until it hits an obstacle. To solve the puzzles you will need to use these obstacles or the walls around the edge of the screen to help you maneuver through the level. 

There are 120 puzzles to enjoy and several unique game mechanics that are introduced as you progress through the levels. The idea of neurons and the neurological pathways through the brain and body are represented through the menus and level selection format. Completing puzzles fills a neuron and when the neuron is full you get to progress to the next set of puzzles. 

The Brain levels are where you start and are a good introduction to the game’s mechanics. After the first section they start to introduce various obstacles, some of which can kill you. This gives the player the opportunity to get familiar with how to move around and solve the puzzles.

Once you’ve progressed far enough and are making your way through the Body, the levels start to become very challenging and can be failed from your first move. That may sound odd but for most of these levels your block begins from a location in the middle somewhere that can never be returned to since your block will always travel as far as it can until it runs into something. Luckily you can restart any level if you find yourself stuck or put yourself into an unsolvable position. The level reloads in seconds which is great and keeps you playing.

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 is a nice option to have and is conveniently located right beside the restart button. 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. 

The soundtrack is great and relaxing with mellow tunes. This was a good choice for helping players stay cool when the harder levels lead to frustration from repeated failure.

There is a color blind option as well which was great to see and really well done. It adds icons to all of the interactive blocks letting you know what each of them does. It makes it very easy to know what will happen when you hit the blocks. We actually preferred playing with this feature turned on just to make it easier to see what effect all of the blocks would have. 

There is also a monochrome mode if you want to use it. This makes all the blocks shades of grey instead of different colors. You can pair monochrome mode with color blind mode so the icons will still appear.

The majority of the game can also easily be played with just the left thumbstick with occasional presses of the A button. This and the above mentioned colorblind mode make it very friendly for anyone with accessibility needs.

The game is very enjoyable. It scratches the puzzle itch and makes you feel good when you figure out a difficult puzzle. Once you have completed the puzzles there is little to no replayability as there are no leaderboards, challenges, or time trials. Some would consider this a good thing while others may find they miss having a reason to replay levels. 

Active Neurons is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Vasilis Review

Vasilis from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Marginal Act

Kind of a weird story. If you’re looking for a slow paced game this is probably right up your alley. If you’re not a fan of walking simulators it may not be a good fit.

Hand drawn in black and white side scrolling adventure.

The story is based on political events in Ukraine during 2014. You play an elderly lady named Vasilis who is trying to locate her husband. While searching for him you’ll have to make your way through the troubled city. There are riots happening throughout the city as it starts to burn.    

You have several locations to visit while exploring the town. The locations start to become weirder the further into the story you progress. 

You’ll pick up items around the town to trade with the townspeople for other items necessary to continue the story and access new areas. There were a few times during the earlier “days”  where we were unsure what to trade to whom in order to progress. We traded every item we had until finally finding the right thing. This was only confusing during the earlier parts of the game as it became clearer what you needed to trade with whom during the later days. 

Most of the actual game play is walking back and forth around the town locating items to trade and going from location to location. It starts to feel like a walking simulator.

The controls are pretty simple but a little loose. We found the in game map to be pretty useless since you will be going to the same locations over and over again. You will also pick up a to-do list which will help you figure out what to do and where to go.

There were a few times we got stuck on invisible walls which became a little frustrating. Moving Vasilis around with the thumbstick seemed loose and it was very easy to drift up or down while trying to walk a straight line. We had better results using the D-pad to ensure there was no vertical drift when trying to walk horizontally across the screen.

The artstyle is hand drawn in black and white. Most of the animations are very simple with only a few frames that repeat over and over again. 

The audio is very minimalistic. There’s not so much a “soundtrack” as there is different background or ambient noises for different locations. There’s no voice acting either. Just a “scratching” sound to represent speech while dialog boxes are on the screen.  

The game is a little short and can be completed in just a few hours depending on how familiar you become with the best paths to traverse the town. After about an hour of walking back and forth you’ll wish there was the option to allow Vasilis to run.  

Vasilis is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSP and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.