I love videogames that allow you to create things. I can spend hours in games with characters creators just letting my imagination run wild. Then I look at the creations from the community and get a little depressed because I see absolutely amazing things that I would never be able to create. Mostly because my art skills are that of a 1st grader. I tried getting into a game like Minecraft but it is pretty hardcore in terms of what you can create. Usually I just sit there mining away at things and end up creating, well, nothing really exciting and I lose interest, so when I decided to review a game called The Sandbox I was more than intimidated. Thankfully, The Sandbox is the perfect game for someone like me.
In The Sandbox you play as god and you pretty much create whatever you want. What makes The Sandbox special is that the game uses 2D pixel art to create everything, which really gives the game a nice look to it. When you start the game, you will be given a pretty lengthy tutorial on how to create everything in the game but the great part is that you are having fun while learning. You get a ton of tools to play around with. One of the tasks the game asked me to do was to make rain. So I put a bunch of water into a little river and then turned on the weather system. I then watched the little pixels of water go up into the air and make clouds. After a while the clouds grouped together and it started to rain. Another task I had to perform in the tutorial which was really fun was to create a volcano. I had to figure out a way to light the oil inside of the volcano. Once I did the lava started flowing and everything caught fire. If you are the kind of person that likes to cause tons of destruction, then this game is for you. This game is also a great teaching tool that I feel that teachers could use in schools. Before you can unlock an element to use, you have to figure out how to create it and as you pass through the tutorial, you learn how each element is made. The game also has a very fun temperature system which ranges from very cold to very hot. If you put the temperature on very cold, you will see everything in your level start to freeze. Put it on very hot and you will see an apocalypse level event where pretty much the entire level burst into flames.
There really isn't a true single player mode of sorts. The single player in the game has you go through a tutorial and then you go through a number of campaigns where you are asked to create certain things or figure out how things work. Most of the missions are pretty straight forward but then there are a lot of other missions like having to guide a virus from a start point to an end points where you are pretty much left on your own with no help. You can buy hints with the currency you earn in game and while most of them do help, there are some that don't get you anywhere. There was on part in the game where I had to melt snow and the game had an arrow pointing under a beaker saying "heat this". I had no idea that I was supposed to use the heating element under the beaker and power it with the electro element. Even though I eventually figured out how to use the heating element, I didn't realize that I had to put it in a certain spot.
If you do get stuck to the point where you absolutely don't know what you are doing, you can always just skip the mission but you won't be doing yourself any favors. It's honestly like cheating on a test in school. Sure you may have got a good score on that test, but when the final test comes, and you have to use your knowledge from previous tests, you will be screwed. The tutorial and all the campaigns after will ask you to do things using the knowledge of what you created before, so if you skip the mission on how to power something, or how to make acid rain, then you will most likely be lost. Going through all the campaigns allows you to unlock new elements and toys to play with and earn more of the in game currency which can be used to unlock even more tools and elements. There is DLC available for the game as well so I have a feeling they will be offering support for this game for a very long time by continuing to add more content for the community to play around with.
Where the real fun comes into play and when you jump into free play where you become god and can create whatever your hearts desire. In my time in free mode I made a river, made it rain, froze the lake, and the turned on the very hot weather system and watched it all burn away. Then I decided to plant a small forest and make a volcano right next to it. I made the volcano erupt and watched the small pixels of lava run down the volcano and then burn the entire forest. No I am not a pyromaniac but I do love when videogames allow you to cause tons of destruction especially when you learn how to make explosives later in the game. I could literally spend hours just screwing around in free play mode and if you are one of those people who are extremely creative and have a huge imagination, you can create tons of art and share it with the world. The game has a community section where you can download and play other peoples creations. Right on the community page, I have seen tons of amazing pixel art, and even music. Yes, imagine if Mario Paint allowed you to share your creations with the world and have other people download them. I have listened to the Star Wars theme, the Imperial March and Psy's Gundam style all in this game and there is still tons more to see from the community. Like I mentioned before, my art skills aren't that great and while I do really enjoy creating things in these types of games, I also love seeing what the community has created. I spend hours in the WWE games checking out other peoples creations and I love going on Youtube and checking out what people have made in Minecraft. I have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the community created but I will be spending many more hours downloading and checking out all the wacky and crazy things people have created.
So here is the important question. Is the game fun? In my opinion yes, however this is the type of game where you will only get out what you put in. If you are the kind of person that just loves to lose yourself in the worlds and art that you create then you will love The Sandbox. I feel like people would enjoy this game if other games like Minecraft have turned you off because of just how much time it takes to create things. The Sandbox offers quick, easy and fun ways to create. You are only truly limited by your own imagination. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a forest I need to destroy.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. My earliest gaming memories come from playing Lady Bug and Snafu on my fathers Colecovision and Intellivision respectively. It wasnt until I was 6 years old and played a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine in a game room at a hotel that I truly fell in love with a videogame. I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and I playing Mortal Kombat on SNES every night after dinner. Throughout my childhood NES, SNES, Gameboy and Sega Genesis were the loves of my life. Here I am 29 years old and still as much in love with videogames as I ever was. And for the record... I enjoyed the Mass Effect 3 ending... sue me