The Sandbox Hands-On Preview

The Sandbox is not a traditional game. It’s more about the player’s creativity, like a set of Legos or the building section of Minecraft. In The Sandbox, you act as a god-like being that can create elements with the swipe of a finger. Your canvas is the screen of your iOS device.

You start with just a few basic elements that you can use, like water and rock. In the first level of the story mode, pixelated water flows across the bottom of the screen. With the swipe of your finger, you create rock particles that obey gravity and fall into the stream building into a rock that blocks the flow of water. As the water continues to flow, it starts to erode the rock, creating particles of sand. When this happens, it means you’ve unlocked the element sand, and it’s added to your list of available elements.

This idea of combining elements to create new ones reminds us of the game Doodle God, although The Sandbox seems more fleshed out. As you continue through the story mode, you’ll discover tons of new elements that you can use in later levels, like lava, seeds, and plants.

But since the game is about creativity, the story mode is almost like a long tutorial to introduce you to the elements and teach you how they interact. The real meat of the game is the free play mode, which lets you use all of the elements you’ve unlocked and do whatever you want with them. If you look at the screenshots developer Pixowl has posted to their Facebook page and watch the video below, you’ll see that players have come up with a wide array of images and scenes, many of them quite creative. You’ll even be able to post your creations online for other people to try out.

The Sandbox will be a freemium game that you can look forward to playing this May. The way the developers will make money is by offering packs of new elements via in-app purchase. They said that once you buy an element pack you’ll have unlimited use of those elements, so you won’t have to worry about running out. If you want a taste of the game now you can play the Flash version, but note that the iOS version appears to be much more polished.

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