The Sandbox (Pixowl Inc.)
After already impressing players on iOS and Android, The Sandbox has made the leap to the PC and is available as an Early Access title interestingly enough. This shows that the developers are not just treating the PC version as a quick port and are willing to listen to player feedback in order to deliver a good game.
In case you missed out on the mobile versions of The Sandbox the idea is very simple, you are given a bunch of tools and encouraged to use them in creative ways. Depending on how creative you are, this can be a little daunting, but fortunately there are tutorials, in the form of missions, that explain everything you need to know. In total there are eleven campaigns that encompass about 161 puzzles in total so these should keep you busy for a while. The campaigns are split up into themes and walk you through the basic steps of combining elements and demonstrating the effects. There are some pretty interesting campaigns that feature dinosaurs, contraptions, humans, zombies, robots and even an alien invasion, but most are locked until a previous campaign is completed.
The visuals are 2D and all the elements are represented by pixel block art so the game does look a little basic. Don’t be fooled though as there is plenty of depth and with more than 150 elements you are limited only by your creativity when it comes to messing around. The Free Mode runs in “HD” for the Steam version of the game which is basically four times the resolution of the original mobile versions, but unless you are a fan of pixel art it is still going to look very basic. Pixowl have mentioned that resolution options are in the works so hopefully they are able to spruce up the visuals a bit more.
While the mobile version of the game is free, you do have to pay for the Steam version, but it comes with the benefit of no micro-transactions and no advertisements. Mana is required to unlock items, buy hints or bypass levels, but you are awarded an abundance of the stuff for completing levels so it should be pretty hard to run out.
The amount of fun that you will have with The Sandbox really depends on how creative you are. Some people will spend a few hours working their way through the puzzles while others will want to jump straight in and mess around with the Free Mode. You are restricted to working on a single screen which feels a bit limited initially, but once you get the hang of the various elements there is a lot of fun to be had. There are also tons of user-generated content that you can check out for inspiration if your creative well runs dry.
The Sandbox impressed us with the wealth of elements and easy to use interface. It is the type of game where you really have to put in a lot of time to really appreciate the depth and requires some creativity from the player to really shine. We will continue to monitor what Pixowl brings to the table for this PC version of the game and do a full review once the game leaves Early Access. In the meantime, you can check out the free mobile versions of the game if possible to get a general idea what to expect on PC.
This preview is based on version 1.5.16 of the game.