When we think of sandbox games, we think of things like Grand Theft Auto or Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild. Games with an open, expansive world that you can explore and there are a multitude of activities that you can do in that world. There is another version of a sandbox game where it is just like that. A sandbox. A world where you have full power of what happens and what does not happen. You control the creation and destruction of that world. In the 3D sandbox game of Elemental, this displays that very concept of a sandbox game.
You open the game to see a burning planet and moon colliding with each other and creating a massive explosion. When the light clears, a new planet and moon forms from the remains of the previous two. You control whether this planet will succeed or fail, just like the one you witnessed at the beginning. You can control the climate and temperature of the planet by adding and removing mountains and water. How well you are doing is measured in the number of animals that will show up on that planet. More animals means that the environment is gentle and can sustain life. You also have control over the orbit of the sun. Move it too close and the planet will burn up. Move it too far and it will freeze and become covered in frost. Playing with the distance between you and the sun will determine whether your planet and all the creatures that live on it will live or die.
Time does progress as you play and the four seasons are all there as well, including winter. As it nears that time, the planet will become covered in snow. Not nearly as bad as it freezing over completely, but it will cause fewer animals to appear over time. There is someone watching out for you though. Every now and then, a meteorite will streak across the sky and will strike your planet. The rock is so hot, it will heat up your planet and cause the cold to recede.
The soundtrack is relaxing and comforting to listen to and the mechanics allow you to create a world after your own image. There really isn’t any goal and the game does not end if your planet burns up or freezes over. If that happens, you can just manipulate the sun to help even out the temperature and fix your planet to the desired condition. With the land control that you have, you can create mountains or rivers and you can shape it to whatever you please.
Played it? We’d love to know what you thought about it.