The Sandbox by Bulkypix icon

The Sandbox (Free) by Bulkypix is the perfect game for those with creative minds.

Have you ever wanted to create your own universe? Having the freedom to do whatever you want? With The Sandbox, all that power can be yours in the form of an 8-bit retro “physics sandbox.” This allows for unlimited freedom and imagination from the player, along with great possibilities for pixel art.

There are two game modes: Free Mode and Story Mode. At first, Free Mode is locked, but you gain access to it once you clear the first seven levels in Story. The Story mode will have 30 levels (days), and each will introduce you to a new element and have a goal that you must clear before you can move on to the next.

The Sandbox by Bulkypix screenshot

When you start out in Story mode, only a few elements will be available to you, such as soil, water, and stone. The goals for the day will help you create new elements, such as sand, fire, ice, lightning, power, bright, oil, and more. Other parts of the universe will open up to you as well, such as controlling the weather, temperature, light, and even the sun. If you ever forget what your goals are for the day, you can view them again by tapping on the “Day” button at the top.

All of these will work together to bring new life or destruction to your universe, just like real world physics. Once new elements are unlocked, you will have to buy them using your mana, the in-game currency. Each day will give you mana as a reward once completed, and you can also earn more by playing around in the Free Mode.

Free Mode is just that — you are free to do whatever you want. There are no goals that need to be completed to move on. You’re just given a blank canvas that you can mold however you’d like. This mode reminds me of Minecraft, in a way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In both modes, you will be using multiple elements quite frequently. To switch elements, simply tap on the element button in the top left corner of the toolbar. You’ll be able to quickly see what elements are available to you, and any elements that are unavailable will be dimmed out — to get them, you’ll need to spend mana.

There are also drawing tools available: Brush and Line, along with the Pickaxe for possibly mining new elements. In Free Mode, there are more drawing tools, including Fill, Replace, and Undo since you are creating pixel art. Erasure will be available to eliminate your godly pixels, and you can even zoom in to create your universe with pixel perfect accuracy. Another button includes options for toggling whether the sun is out, temperature, light, and weather. You can also make it hot, very hot, cold, or very cold too, once the options are unlocked; though all are available to you in Free Mode.

There is also a Gallery Mode that you can browse. This will be submitted creations from other players, and you can even submit your own from the Free Mode. It’s truly inspiring to see what other people come up with, considering that the game only provides so much.

The Sandbox by Bulkypix screenshot

I had been beta testing the game for a while, and I must say, the gameplay is very intuitive and fun. You’ll easily lose a few hours to this game once you get it, and even more as you keep playing. It’s always great when a game limits you only to your imagination, and you are able to create whatever you want.

The graphics look great (who doesn’t love the 8-bit look that can stand the tests of time) and the music is actually quite calming. Game Center is supported, but there are no leaderboards, just achievements — 24 to be exact. The achievements will definitely take some time to get, so that only means more time with the game, which is well worth it.

My only small gripe is the fact that you may eventually need to buy one of the “mana packs” (from $0.99 up to $9.99) because you will eventually not have enough mana to get all the elements that are available. Another option is to get the “All Elements Pack,” which will cost $6.99. Though I guess since the game is free, you can’t really complain about throwing a few dollars their way, but it would have been nice if they gave a bit more mana for each day you complete in the Story mode.

Regardless, The Sandbox is a joy to play. When you aren’t playing Diablo III, this is an excellent time killer. If you want to test your imagination, then go grab The Sandbox for free in the App Store.