When Sometimes You released Active Neurons in early 2020, I would have never predicted it would spawn a sequel just a few months later. Now, just a few months after the release of Active Neurons 2, Sometimes You released Active Neurons 3 because apparently they still had some gas left in the tank. Although it is more of the same and essentially glorified DLC (it only costs $5), it is still a thinking puzzle game that satisfies with minimal frustration.
Just like the games before it, this latest version still has players pushing a block to the goal on a non-scrolling screen. The gimmick comes from the block’s movement. Once pushed, it doesn’t stop until it bumps into something, like those ice block puzzles in any Zelda game. There is no timer or move counter so the player can play as casually or seriously as one would like. Reaching the goal involves moving the block in a certain order, activating teleporters or other blocks on these grid-based stages, or even bumping blocks into other blocks. The newest and most used addition in this three-quel are the switches that move an environmental block in a number of different positions. This opens the door for more movement options which creates more trial and error opportunities. Sometimes there is even more than one way to solve a puzzle so there is some slight creative freedom to be had. If you get stuck, the player can tap the hint button and be shown the answer as if watching a built-in YouTube cheat guide.
In the previous games, completing a batch of ten puzzles would essentially unlock a part of the body, tying the brain/neuron theme full circle. Instead of unlocking nerve endings, the player now unlocks a small cutscene involving one of the wonders of the world like the pyramids or an ancient lighthouse. Each wonder also unlocks an Achievement (or Trophy if playing on a Sony console) and the minimalist visual style carries throughout the campaign. The soundtrack also has to be the best of the lot and is worthy of the price of admission alone.
If you have not played the other two games, do not be afraid to jump right into this 3rd game as there is no cohesiveness from a narrative stand point. Although I wish there was some major changes to these third installment, it still offers some low key, casual fun for those times when you want to relax but still be thoughtfully challenged.
Also available on PS4, PS5, and Nintendo Switch.