Welcome to our regular gameplay impressions and video post where we record our first 10-30 minutes with a new game, and provide some general impressions on that early playthrough. Today’s game: The Sandbox from developer Pixowl.
Starting its life in 2012 as a humble mobile game, The Sandbox draws influence from the classic “falling sand” game archetype from the online flash game days of yore. For those new to the term, players are presented with – as the name suggests – a sandbox, and a series of pixellated ‘sands’ that represent various elements. These sands can then be combined to achieve any number reactions, with the user’s imagination the only limit to what’s possible.
Jumping into the title, the fact that it has been ported from mobile devices is, unfortunately, rather evident. The menu screens are populated by extra large, touch-friendly icons and are practically devoid of options, save for a music and sound toggle. Where this may not benefit PC gamers looking for more comprehensive graphical options or even a way to close the game without having to minimize it with the Escape key, the greater degree of control enabled by the use of a mouse shines through.
Players will find three distinct modes of play that allow them to exercise their creativity with all the available tools: on a blank canvas, solving various themed puzzles, and viewing other players’ creations. Whichever one of these modes is selected, the focus is placed squarely on creativity and experimentation with the games numerous elements (ranging from simplistic, but flammable oil to the more obtuse acid).
With this focus on player creativity, The Sandbox feels like an experience that relies heavily on the player’s willingness to contribute to determine its quality. The puzzles are an entertaining diversion, but they pass by so quickly that the meat of the experience is ultimately found in the Play mode. While experimenting with each of the elements at hand can be fun for a time, the novelty of enveloping a pixel village in a volcano’s lava flow can get old rather quickly.
This isn’t to say that The Sandbox is unworthy of a spot among one’s gallery of Steam game; in a manner similar to Goat Simulator (check out our review), Pixowl has crafted an experience best played in short bursts. While it might not hold the attention of gamers lacking the skills (or interest) in creativity for very long, its nostalgia and open-ended free play are sure to please those willing to think laterally.
What do you think of The Sandbox? Does it look like a game for you? Let us know in the comments below. [NOTE: If you enjoy these gameplay videos please like and/or subscribe to our YouTube Channel to let us know you’re watching and you want more. We’ll keep making them if you keep watching them!]
The Sandbox is available now for PC on Steam Early Access for $9.99.
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