I've been thoroughly enjoying Draknek's Switch puzzlers but it's time to ditch the monster and enter the chemistry lab with Sokobond.
Sokobond has a clever title because it's a Sokoban game where you push tiles around a grid-based playfield while also featuring a theme of chemistry; hence, the bond portion of its title. It's a very simple game that anyone can easily pick-up-and-play regardless of their chemistry knowledge. I remember chemistry quite clearly after all the years since high school and I must say; Sokobond does an excellent job of making the science fun with its puzzle premise. You could even think of it as one of those cleverly-disguised educational games.
You play Sokobond by moving the singular element with a dashed border around the playfield. As you place elements with exposed electrons together, they'll bond and the goal of each level is to combine all of the elements in order to form a complete substance. Sometimes, there will be noble gases in the mix which don't bond with anything and they can either get in the way or be used to push other elements. Heck, you may even use them as a shield if you don't want to bond with a particular element yet. In other words, there is a lot of strategy involved and I had an excellent time piecing everything together as I mastered stage after stage.
As I've already touched upon, there are plenty of additional mechanics that slowly get introduced as you progress through the levels and the fact that you unlock multiple stages whenever you complete one means that you'll have lots of options for which puzzle to solve next. Anyway, you'll come across red spikes that break bonds between elements and you'll sometimes have to strengthen bonds with plus signs that reside on certain corners. This may seem complex but it all works together brilliantly while maintaining intuitive gameplay.
Although Sokobond has wonderful gameplay and unambiguous visuals, I must admit that I wish it did more on a presentational level to increase its appeal. Primarily, there's a lot of whitespace onscreen at any given moment and I would have enjoyed if they filled it with subtle details like the periodic table of elements or maybe even displayed cute little chemistry-based chums dancing around. On the plus side, Sokobond features an absolutely gorgeous ambient soundtrack that blends beautifully with the charming sound effects.
Oh, and I also would have liked to see some replay value injected into the stages. Mainly, if they had level stats or some sort of collectible then that would have made me want to think of more efficient solutions as I replayed stages. As it is, you just keep finishing levels until you've done them all then that's basically it. Thankfully, there are a lot of levels to master so you'll still enjoy it for a long time.
It's rare to come across a puzzler as enjoyable and challenging as Sokobond, especially considering the fact that it's educational albeit in a subtle way. With lots of puzzles to solve, you'll gladly combine elements for hours within its campaign that's full of variety.
- + Intuitive yet challenging puzzle gameplay that'll actually teach you chemistry
- + Plenty of mechanics get introduced
- + Open-ended campaign with lots of stages
- - Presentation could use more embellishments to fill the oodles of whitespace
- - No collectibles and stats is a missed opportunity