Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Sokobond

12:00 PM on 07.23.2014 // Darren Nakamura

Reactions to a game about chemistry

Chemistry is governed by a definite set of rules. Opposite charges attract, like dissolves like, matter is always conserved. There are more rules than just those, but one of the great things about the study of matter and its interactions is that if one truly understands the rules and laws governing chemicals, he can predict outcomes given a set of preconditions.

In that sense, Sokobond has even more in common with chemistry than it lets on. Though it boasts that no chemistry knowledge is required to play, it too runs on a specific set of rules, and any player who internalizes those rules can find success in-game. As a fortunate side effect, any who spend time connecting atoms in Sokobond might just learn something about chemistry too.

Sokobond (Linux, Mac, PC [reviewed])
Developer: Alan Hazelden & Harry Lee
Publisher: Draknek
Released: August 27, 2013
MSRP: $9.99
Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit

In Sokobond, the rules are simple. Atoms are distributed on small square grid arenas, and the player is given control of one. Each element has a set number of bonding electrons: carbon has four, nitrogen has three, oxygen has two, and hydrogen has one. If any two atoms with free bonding electrons are moved adjacent to one another, and bond is formed between those atoms, and they move as a single molecule from then on.

Students of organic chemistry or biology might recognize those four atoms; they are the major atomic components of organic molecules. In Sokobond, those elements behave as they would in the real world, with each forming as many bonds as it has bonding electrons.

Though the above description might turn off those who are less scientifically-minded, the game is much more inviting. All a novice needs to know is that two atoms with at least one dot each floating around them will spend those dots to connect together, and the goal is to use all the dots.

Although Sokobond begins with a simple premise, it is quite difficult toward the end. Some solutions come easier than others, but all require use of logic and forward thinking. If I had to have one complaint about Sokobond, it would be that I may never see it to completion due to the demanding difficulty of the later levels. In that regard, the game parallels the actual study of chemistry more than it admits to.

Though anybody can play, it would be untrue to suggest that a background in chemistry does not help a little. Though each puzzle can be solved without knowing the destination molecule beforehand, having that knowledge can help to provide direction on the more complex problems. For instance, one of the later puzzles requires the molecule to have a ring structure, and while it is possible to figure that out without prior knowledge, it comes more quickly to those who could recognize the need from the combination of elements in play.

On the other hand, a background in chemistry hinders in other cases. Specifically, small molecules typically have set shapes and are drawn in certain ways, but those restrictions are not put in place in Sokobond. Occasionally, I knew what the target molecule was, but could not come to the solution because I was also trying to match it to my preconception of the molecule's shape.

Otherwise, Sokobond remains firmly grounded in reality. Every molecule created is one that at least could theoretically exist for a measurable period of time, and most are common molecules that we interact with every day. A nice touch is the reward for completing a given puzzle: the name of the molecule created and some interesting factoid about it.

Like most great puzzle games, Sokobond does introduce new mechanics as the game progresses. After learning the basics of moving atoms and bonding them together, objects are introduced that will cleave bonds, increase the bond order of a bond (create double, triple, or quadruple bonds), and rearrange molecules. Helium is introduced as a fifth element to play with, and it exhibits its status as a noble gas: never bonding but still useful for other functions.

As the player progresses through the levels, new sections in the level select screen open up. Progression is nonlinear, but certain areas will only open up after completing particular levels. For instance, after completing a certain level in the group highlighting bond order and one in the group focusing on bond cleavage, a group opens up that combines the two. By the end, another Easter egg for chemistry nerds reveals itself: the level select screen takes on the silhouette of the Periodic Table of Elements.

Mirroring the simplicity of the gameplay is a minimalist aesthetic in both art and sound direction. Solid colors and sharp lines are used to convey all the necessary information. Each bond formed adds a single tone to the overarching atmospheric background drone. Though Sokobond is not focused on creating music, each level allows the player to create a fleeting, custom Enoesque soundtrack depending on which bonds are formed, in which order, and with what timing.

In a word, Sokobond is elegant. It is elegant in its concept, it is elegant in its aesthetic direction, and it is elegant in its puzzle design. It starts out using only a few simple rules, builds on those, and eventually combines it all to become quite challenging. Science enthusiasts and laypeople can learn it and enjoy it. Even though chemistry education is not the primary goal, anybody who plays will come away with a slightly better understanding of chemical bonds, or at the very least a few neat pieces of trivia about molecules.



Sokobond - Reviewed by Darren Nakamura
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Darren Nakamura, Associate Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Dexter345 Tips
Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011. While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strateg... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Two more days to get in on the unofficial Christmas Card! [Url][/URL]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django has got a mystery sale on T Shirts and Tank Tops atm, $5 for each. Only catch is they're random. But I've had some good luck, got a Captain Falcon one before, Zombies ate my Neighbors and a Persona 4 X Earthbound crossover.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I would really, really love if "publish now" could work without me having to post a blog multiple because the site is such a mess right now.
fitzen avatarfitzen
I got it all the way back in spring, but I still haven't finished Majoras Mask. Think I've done the first temple.. It's hard not knowing where to go. All those linear corridors and objective markers in games has made me dumb and impatient.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
A weekend open forum posted every Friday night would be really cool, at least until we get real forums again.
Parismio avatarParismio
Went snowboarding for the first time in years. Crashed a lot, many times into trees. All that training in FF7 didnt do squat!
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
If I were to get Age of Empires II HD to play with you all, do you all have the DLC?
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I am relieved to know Creed is a Rocky spin-off and not a feature-length documentary about the band.
Steven Hansen avatarSteven Hansen
the worst thing about that jesssica jones program is i keep getting "basketball jones" stuck in my head
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Been playing Gears of War 3's campaign on Xbox One. Looks great on there, and Sam's voice actor is Chloe's voice actor in Uncharted 2/3. Hell yeah!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -