Elemental sandbox games were once a staple of the browser gaming scene. You remember Hell of Sand, right? And Powder Game, Sand Sand Sand, Liquid Webtoy? The genre resurfaced once mobile gaming became a thing, but the quality has always been middling at best. Then along came Doodle God to remind us how fun it is to play with elements. Why not combine the two? HF Games is looking to do just that with its latest Android release that takes the best parts from each game and fuses them together to make ReactionLab!
ReactionLab works a lot like the sandbox webtoys of old. Draw elements on the top part of the screen, filling the canvas with whatever strange substances you'd like to set loose. Heck, build a workable machine if you like, you're only limited by the twisted pile of goop inside your skull. Switch elements by tapping the big button on the bottom of the screen. There are over 40 in all, ranging from predictable materials like concrete, fire, water and rock to more unusual things like anti-matter, baking soda and aerolucent.
The Doodle God aspect comes into play with the game's reactions list. Instead of just randomly drawing things, ReactionLab encourages you to experiment with materials by hinting at combinations and giving you an achievement whenever you complete a listed reaction. Some elements can only be used by combining existing elements, which makes experimentation even more important.
Analysis: Drawing elements is simple and responsive. You can change the pencil size with a few quick taps on the screen, allowing you to fine-tune your elemental machines or to go wild with massive piles of baking soda and vinegar. The visuals are strangely appealing, too. Pixels and particles are pleasantly chunky (no squinting!) and look good on the screen no matter what weird reaction you've got going on.
Sandbox creativity games like this are nothing new to the world, but it's nice to see one built with the end user in mind. No clumsy interface buttons or game crashes every time you blow up a screenful of C4 with lava. Just a little quiet time with a sandbox full of toys and a handful of achievements to unlock!