Sandbox is one of our personal favourite genres - but what exactly is a sandbox game? Picture this: an interactive play space where you’re free to explore and create however you like, whether that’s building complex and amazing art, or just noodling around for the fun of it.
So kind of like a… sandbox. That children play in. Alright, the genre name’s not that confusing when you think about it. And the magic of virtual sandboxes is that nobody tries to eat the sand! Or pees in it. Technology is amazing.
With this irresistible pitch in mind, may we interest you in 7 of the best sandbox games to play in Dreams right now? We thought so. Have a go on these.
Estimated playtime: Replayable
If you love pushing sandbox games to their limits, and encouraging some truly unhinged technical behaviour, then you’re in luck. PLAYZONE cheerfully provides a sandbox for you to live out some of your most chaotic videogaming fantasies. Choose from a variety of arenas - from the suburbs to a swimming pool and beyond - before interfacing with mysterious red orbs. Each of them are labelled, and if you walk through one, you’ll spawn various NPCs, objects and environmental effects: the colour palette of the whole scene swaps, or a soundtrack of light jazz kicks in, or everything sets on fire.
Walk through more, and you may suddenly find yourself being chased into traffic by a giant T-rex, or gaining a skeleton stalker. To say nothing of what happens if you decide to start sprinting through multiple orbs at once, triggering a creation event so apocalyptic that the entire map starts to come apart at the seams. It manages to be horrifying and hilarious in equal measure, a demented horror-comedy anecdote generator that fans of Garry’s Mod are sure to adore.
Estimated playtime: Replayable
What if you could turn a pinball machine into a music instrument? That’s essentially the premise of Musicalia, a physics-based music toy that might just help you produce the new sound of the summer. The goal here is to arrange a number of different shapes, many of which create their own unique sounds when struck - a bass drum, a guitar chord, a synth - and others that help guide projectiles towards other shapes. Then you place down your projectile emitters, set the beats-per-minute on each one, and watch as gravity plays your song for you.
Well, that’s if you’ve arranged them in an optimal way. Chances are your first few goes might sound like an octopus went on a rampage in a piano tuning shop. But with a little time, patience and experimentation, you’re soon performing magnificent feats of visual composition in this Electroplankton-esque sandbox without even really thinking about it. Indeed, half the fun of Musicalia is in the Bob Ross-ification of the musical process - and building upon those “happy little accidents” that create unexpected moments of harmony.
Tiny Pier Simulator 1904#
Estimated playtime: 1+ hrs
Everybody knows that there’s nothing more playful, fun, and fancy-free than running a big business. But you know what’s even more fun? Running a tiny business. Tiny Pier Simulator 1904 is a simulation that has you designing and building a theme park in order to make a profit - and keep your boss, Mr. Mayor, in expensive hats. You’ll lay out pavement, shops, attractions and more on your dinky pier to bring in the punters and empty their wallets - but must balance your incomings and outgoings strategically. There are worker salaries and the electric bill to think of, after all, as well as an R&D team that can be funded to research new and more enticing attractions for you to construct.
Keep all those plates spinning, and you’ll soon be able to expand your rickety little jetty into a bustling, rollercoaster-laden entertainment paradise (although the busier it gets, the more you’ll have to start considering the placement of things like bins to keep this place clean and functional). Still, one ill-judged spending spree or act of god could spell disaster for the whole setup, so you’ll have to be on your guard at all times. Business, eh? Practically a holiday. No wonder CEOs are such chilled-out, normal people. (And if you like this one, don’t forget to check out Tiny Medieval 907 for an even more freeform experience, although you’ll have to sacrifice the ability to save your game.)
Ultimate Platformer Kit Demo#
Estimated playtime: 20 minutes
If sandboxes are spaces for your imagination to run wild, then the Ultimate Platformer Kit Demo is asking your brain to take off at a Usain Bolt-level sprint while waving its arms in the air. This is a playable experience designed to show off the capabilities of MitterMak’s Ultimate Platformer Kit - an incredibly polished, works-out-of-the-box set of tools and assets that’ll help you create your own 3D platformer games.
Ultimate Platformer Kit Demo revels in being a blank slate, allowing your mind to fill in your own ideas around greybox levels, a puppet with a range of movement and combat abilities, and all the training dummies you could ever want to punch. But it also manages to be an entertaining and characterful experience in its own right. Simply moving around is a tactile delight, as you leap, sneak, swim and tightrope-walk around the arena. Then there are the chatty Infoducks, a cleverly integrated way of adjusting control preferences - and even an opportunity to quiz the kit’s creator in person at a help desk bursting with useful tips, hilarious quips, and even a few Easter eggs. This is how you tutorialise a creative toolset; you know a creator’s doing something right when even learning feels like play.
Estimated playtime: 2 hrs
Here’s a sandbox game that really practises what it preaches. 3D platformer Tides casts you as an impatient little seed-creature who’s ended up fixating on the release of their most anticipated videogame (relatable). In their disturbed slumber, a surreal, multi-dimensional land dreamland awaits. Giant frogs block pathways, and strange catwalks awake - but you’re able to deal with all of these obstacles by donning specific superpowered costumes (a la Balan Wonderworld) that give you, for instance, the power to leap and float to higher ground, or reveal invisible pathways with a burst of moonlight.
While the first section of the game is fairly linear, teaching you how to interpret environmental cues that hint at which costumes to use, it’s the back half that becomes a real open-world paradise. Every inch of this maximalist dreamscape is stuffed with collectibles, secrets, musical toys and platforming challenges - and with a variety of costumes at your disposal, it’s up to you how and where you use your powers to progress.
Most happily of all, the sandbox-y nature of the gameplay goes hand-in-hand with the unfolding narrative; you’ll soon experience the joy of simply noodling about, of stumbling across unexpected discoveries and bumping into new friends. Suddenly, you might realise that getting to the finish line as quickly as possible isn’t really what life is all about - often, it’s what you find along the way.
Estimated playtime: 30 mins
There are plenty of great open-world space exploration games in Dreams - but Space Marauder feels like an especially “sandboxy” rendition. Why? It’s super playful, with a free-flowing movement system that makes us feel positively giddy. Skidding, sliding and drifting your ship across stylish flat-colour space plains is a sensory treat - but strategy is important, too, as you keep an eye on your limited (but rechargeable back at base) fuel supplies while venturing into the unknown.
You’re on a quest to mine upgrade materials, increase your ship’s power and unlock new abilities - and so even the 2D, top-down view adds an extra thrill of novelty and mystery to proceedings. With your view always limited in some sense, you’re never quite sure of what lies off-screen until you get out there. Suffice it to say that you’ll run into your fair share of peril - and possibly space mafiosos, if you’re brave enough - but if you’ve spent enough time doing donuts in your rocket-whip, all the guns in the galaxy are sure to be no match for your skills.
FEEDING DUCKS 1#
Estimated playtime: 30 mins
We know you’re out there, farming game enjoyers. Doers of the Valley. Harvesters of the Moon. Why not take up a new homestead in this pixelated sandbox adventure? With your trusty pickaxe in hand, and an adorable pet duck at your feet, you must mine cave crystals and complete sidequests for townsfolk in order to upgrade your character - and of course, keep your feathery pal fed and happy.
So far, so Tamagotchi Crossing, you might think. That would be your first mistake. Delve a little deeper into the minds of the residents of this seemingly sleepy hamlet, and you’ll soon discover that something rather disturbing is just below the surface of the soil, waiting to be dug up. And while some horrors are, sadly, inevitable, there is some freedom as to how FEEDIND DUCKS 1 can play out; there are three different endings to uncover in this strange tale.
Don’t want playtime in the sandbox to end? Why not check out our Sandbox playlists in-game? Select Dreams By Genre on the front page of DreamSurfing, then head into Sandbox to discover many more unique and freeform experiences.
For your convenience, here are all of our Sandbox playlists in one simple collection, if you'd like to add it to your Play Later queue.
Alright, time for us to get out of the sandbox. We’re starting to itch.
The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.