Sandbox games now refer to video games where you have more or less no imposed objectives. Minecraft could fit into this for example, but the problem with Minecraft is that Dave is a frail being in a dangerous environment. He needs to dig and cut to find materials and needs to construct shelters in order to remain safe. Only then can he begin to creating wonders of cubic architecture. Of course, playing in Creative mode eludes all that, but you still need to move from place to place and still have a limited visual perspective. Dave lacks godlike properties. Fortunately, playing with powder feels very powerful.
Plant, grow, burn, submerge, repeat
Powder Game originally appeared on the PC. This incarnation puts it on the best platform - a tablet. Placing little pixels of matter in the world feels much more personal by swiping the screen than by dragging the mouse pointer.
In Powder Game View, you get a default playground that is essentially an empty fish tank (no fish included unfortunately). The gameplay consists of selecting an element and adding it on the screen (holding or swiping just like a digital pen). Depending on the type of material, you will either pour or draw in most cases. Materials like water, salt or seeds fall down and accumulate in a realistic manner, creating a mound or the shape of the container they fall in. Others like the vines, or the ice become fixed platforms. Playing with Powder Game is a journey of discovery. In a limited way each type of material interacts in a certain way with others. Discovering these interactions is part of the fun. Another interesting element is the air dynamics that form. For example, a burning tree will heat the air above which will rush through the enclosure until it escapes or until things calm down. Thing do calm down eventually, but when you have a ton of water, seeds and fire rushing around then you can just sit and watch the drama for minutes on end.
A fun element is the Fighter. You can spawn a lot of these stick-men which will begin lumbering and kicking in random directions until they get a kick in the head or fall into some hazardous material (stay away from magma). You can also spawn an avatar which looks similar to the Fighters but is fully controllable and can spew fire or whatever you fancy in the direction it is facing. Totally Awesome!!!
A good thing to know is that you can edit the pen behavior, thickness (which is quite relevant for the Seed material and also the visualization type where you can switch to viewing auras, heat, air meshing and more.
Dan-Ball has made a great adaptation for the Android that can keep you entertained for hours while listening to Rob Skiba talk about the flat earth. Alternatively you can kill time while on the train, bus or the toilet seat.