Do you like Sandbox games? Well, technically, this is the biggest sandbox game you could ever have. Do you like physics based games? Say hello to the biggest of them all. I am of course talking about “Universe Sandbox”.
The best way to explain this game is as a “What If?” type of game. All your fun will come from your own curiosity, with the help of the games teapots and meteors. The basic premise of the game splits into two. You can either use one of the pre-made solar systems or galaxies (Including our own) and tinker around with gravitational fields, blow up moons or launch a bowling ball out into orbit and just see the havok it can create. I consider this to be the “Pick-up and Play” part of the game. Once you’ve done the tutorial, (a quick lay-out of all the features), then you can play away to your hearts content. Although do be warned, you can lose a lot of time absent mindedly destroying galaxies, playing out your fantasies of being the love child of Darth Vader and Stephen Hawking (hatred of the universe and a supreme understanding of physics).
The other route to take is that of creation and once you’re absorbed this is where you will lose a lot of time. In this mode you start from scratch and considering the amount of in-game time that will pass, the tiniest of wrong moves will have catastrophic effects, possibly light years down the line. The basic gist of creation mode is to create. Sounds quite simple and in theory it is. In effect, it can be the most difficult of tasks you’ll undertake in gaming. The difficulty curve is set by you, so you will get out of the game whatever you decide to out in. You may start out just throwing together a handful of planets orbiting a Sun (or a dice) but that won’t keep you satisfied for very long once you’ve figured out the mass and gravity needed to keep it all going smoothly. Soon, you’ll start wanting to throw in the moons orbiting each planet. Maybe setting an asteroid out into your creation, trying to set the ark just right on launch so that it will swiftly fly through your Solar System and not touch a single planet.
With the pre-built simulations and community built ones, there is a lot of content to explore, helping to give you ideas for your next build. Some of the best simulations to see are the Voyager satellite ones passing planets and my favourite one, watching Andromeda and the Milky Way crash into each other.
The entire game is a juggling act and is one that you can take or leave. As you can probably tell, I took to it. I have an unhealthy obsession with space mixed with a slightly malevolent side which had me cackling with glee as I destroyed every planet in our solar system, then gawp as thousands of years down the line the dust settled to create rings around the Sun. As I said before, you will take away from this game what you decide to put into it and if you have any sense of curiosity about the grandest stage of them all, then I suggest you check this out.
Universe Sandbox is £6.99 on steam or there is a free version available here.