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Jul 25

Sokobond – Review

Last year I missed the release of the chemistry puzzler Sokobond, which resembles mechanics found in Sokoban. However, it has just been released on Steam which is a perfect time to take a look at the minimalistic puzzle game developed by Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee. As mentioned before, Sokobond is a puzzle game about chemistry. However, you don’t need to have any previous knowledge of chemistry. If you are like me and you always flunked at chemistry in high school, this is great to hear. As you complete puzzles, where you need to connect the atoms, you will be given scientific facts. Playing a puzzle is great but learning from it in the process is just perfect. Let’s brush up our chemistry shall we?

Sokobond header

There is no storyline in Sokobond, it is as simple as that. In the defense of the developers, I don’t feel like there should be any storyline either. Puzzlers tend to be focused on the gameplay and Sokobond does just that.

The visuals in Sokobond, from the interface menu to the actual puzzles are as minimalistic as they can get and this will not bother anyone at all. When you start playing the game, you are met with empty blueprints, in which the puzzles lay. Each blueprint houses several puzzles and has their own color. In a way, these blueprints remind me of the Tetris cubes, albeit they are not entirely correct figures. This feature gets rid of the linear level selection that we can find in far too many games. The color-codes are here for a reason as every color -or new blueprints- have a new mechanic that you will need to use to solve the puzzle with. The audio design in Sokobond further completes the minimalistic design with beautiful and relaxing music from Ryan Roth who you may know from Electric Super Joy. Combined, the visual and audio design allows the player to fully immerse in the brain-cracking gameplay of Sokobond.

sokobond blueprints

As Sokobond seems to be inspired by Sokoban, it has the same push-and-pull core mechanics although Sokobond makes use of chemical elements in the form of the Lewis ionic dot structures. The goal of the game is to combine elements in a way that they become molecules. This would be basic chemistry but you do not need any knowledge of the bonding process as each dot structure will show you how many electrons this specific element has. In less chemical terms, it will tell you how many times you can link each dot with another dot. All of this sounds easy – or at least the non-chemistry parts will sound easy for some – but each level has different challenges. Certain blocks or walls will prevent you from going there if your molecule is too big so you will need to think and re-think about your options.

sokobond scr2

The game starts off fairly easily but it quickly ups the difficulty level by adding in various mechanics such as splitting the molecules back to their original elements so you have more space to move around in the small rooms. These various mechanics will prevent you from ultimately becoming bored. Once you have finished a puzzle, the game will give you a fact of the molecule you just created. While my love for chemistry is far gone, I do enjoy these simple facts. Some facts may even learn you a few things – did you know for example, that the lethal dose of ethanol is 5g per liter of blood? Neither did I.

Moving on to different facts! Sokobond supports controllers partially but the controls that are mapped work flawlessly. For reference, I tested it with the Xbox controller for PC. Downside is that you cannot re-map any controls, be it for the controller or the traditional mouse and keyboard. Personally, I have no issues with the way they are mapped but some may find that the mapped buttons are too far away from each other as you will move your atoms with your arrow-keys while the reset button is R and Z is the undo-button. Unfortunately Sokobond does not make use of the cloud services but if you do wish to transfer your save files, you can do so manually.

sokobond scr1

Conclusion

Sokobond is an excellent and cleverly designed puzzle that is based on the Lewis iconic dot structures and the push-and-pull core mechanic from Sokoban. It also features an admirable execution of various mechanics that are based on the Lewis theory of bonding. Even if chemistry is not something you can enjoy, you will certainly fall in love with this simple but exceptional puzzler.

1 comment

  1. Ai

    Thanks for the review – somehow I feel like I played a dumb version of this in the 90s, Atomix… 🙂

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