Sandbox games are all about exploration, providing players with large and content-rich environments as well as extensive means for letting their imagination run wild. This can manifest in huge open worlds full of stuff to explore as well as smaller crafted environments that bring a ton of variance, all mechanics that make up some of the best Android games around. This is why we rounded up some of our favorite games within the sandbox genre. Everything from huge and beautiful worlds that take advantage of the best Android tablets to smaller story-rich games that fit comfortably in your own pocket awaits you in the roundup below.
Roblox presents a functionally infinite engine for creating gameplay experiences, chatting with friends, and competing in PvP matches, all with that recognizable blocky Roblox style. With simple movement controls that feel similar to Minecraft’s, you are free to run around and enjoy the experiences that others have set for you, or you can make your own with the creation tool. The art style follows the same philosophy as Minecraft, opting for a simple “less is more” approach that encourages creativity and customization, even down to your avatar’s personalized skin. Players have the option of creating beautiful sandboxes containing beaches, villages, towns, and forests; all this and more with the tools provided. While it can be a little overwhelming, given the complexity of the creation tool and the sheer amount of content to explore, Roblox delivers exactly what it promises, and its unrestricted nature means you’re guaranteed to find something that you like in this sandbox.
2 The Escapists: Prison Escape
A prison setting might seem antithetical to the idea of a sandbox, full of rules and restrictions. The Escapists: Prison Escape, however, makes the most of its setting through strategic gameplay, fetching graphics, and a plethora of movie references. You have been incarcerated in one of six prisons for an unspecified crime, and your goal is to escape. You interact with other prisoners to forge alliances, pick fights, and acquire items for use in your escape attempts. The rub is that random cell inspections can occur at any time, and should the guards find contraband or a gaping hole in your cell wall, it's all over. Ruining a ton of progress because of one mistake is harsh, but adds a sense of realism to the setting. So if you find the more challenging and improvisational aspects of a sandbox appealing, The Escapists: Prison Escape should not go unnoticed.
3 Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition
It’s always nice when a game's title is also the instruction manual. Sporting a foreboding, gothic aesthetic, Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition drops you into a dark, hostile environment with nothing but the clothes on your back. You must craft tools, light sources, and food to not starve; these tools also help you not get murdered by monsters. You are given no instruction upon spawning and must organically figure out which tufts of grass will create something useful when rubbed together. An interesting feature is your situation’s hopelessness. This alien and hostile world will take you eventually, creating a unique, strange sense of paranoia for a survival game. If having your survival skills pushed to the limit in the great and terrible outdoors sounds appealing, Don't starve: pocket edition's quality shines through.
Often described as the 2D version of Minecraft, Terraria is similar in concept to Mojang's famous title. However, Terraria contains several marked differences that suffice to make it unique. The gameplay consists of mining up precious resources and crafting them into tools, all while constructing and improving your spawn point on the surface. However, unlike Minecraft, you cannot simply waltz around the surface and become a millionaire. In Terraria, mining is where the excitement lies. Rarer treasures lie deeper in the earth, so you're incentivized to dig deep. This is also where the crazier and creepier enemies can be found. Giant slimes, worms, and eyeball creatures infest these depths, guarding the valuable equipment. The excitement of delving deeper into the unknown, combined with the sheer number of things to be crafted makes Terraria very absorbing. For those with a pension for cute pixel art and complex sandbox gameplay, Terraria's figurative and literal depth saves it from being buried.
5 SimCity BuildIt
For the uninitiated, The Sims is a life simulation game where you build your own home and family, watching them live and love. The games (some better than others) focus on extensive customization and personalization of the assets created by the player. SimCity BuildIt expands the scope, so players construct a metropolis with banks, schools, and fire hydrants. As mayor of the city, your task is to provide public services like power, water, education, and sanitation and generally keep the place from burning down. Expansion of the city is your responsibility; failure will result in your citizens leaving, reducing the tax budget you have to work with. A feature brought back from the original SimCity is the city-sharing system, allowing you to trade resources with other players’ cities, adding another layer of complexity. Those familiar with the series will catch on quickly, and the game has great tutorials for newcomers. So if you like the sound of a quirky civilization-style game with garbled nonsense dialogue from NPCs, SimCity BuildIt is well worth the investment.
6 Crashlands: Story-driven Craft
What do you get when you take the 'starve' out of Don't Starve? You get Crashlands: Story-driven Craft, a top-down exploration and crafting game emphasizing tighter combat. Your character is an interstellar trucker who has crashed into an alien world and must gather the resources to complete her deliveries. The combat takes center stage as the most interesting gameplay mechanic; attacks are controlled by a finger swipe which is also how the player character is moved. This results in a fun, real-time combat system of bobbing and weaving between enemies and their unsubtly telegraphed attacks. Unlike most survival games, however, Crashlands does not have you manage an inventory. Loot is acquired bottomlessly, which is handy for crafting new armor sets. If Don't Starve was a little too bleak for you, Crashland's simpler crafting philosophy and action-packed combat definitely stick the landing.
7 Payback 2 – The Battle Sandbox
An impressive title in terms of scale, Payback 2 – The Battle Sandbox offers a genuine mobile Grand Theft Auto-like experience. All in aid of rising through the ranks of a criminal hierarchy, campaign missions feature the usual GTA trappings such as gunfights, car chases, gunfight car chases, and the occasional tank mission. The game is complete with campaign missions in three different sandbox maps, multiplayer missions with other players replacing bots, and challenge modes that award medals based on player performance. Needless to say, this game is insanely replayable. The graphics are somewhat lacking, but not to the point of being distracting. For GTA lovers, this game is a must.
Can't go wrong with a classic. For its charmingly simple visual style, and easy to learn hard to master mechanics, Minecraft has become emblematic of the survival crafting genre; a great achievement given the categories’ dense representation. Its iconic blocky textures and terrain design complement the versatile movement controls enjoyed by both the player and the mobs. While there is a final boss and a win condition, the pure sandbox nature of Minecraft's world means this is rarely the player’s objective. Players can mine, farm, barter, and explore, all to improve equipment and create new structures and inventions. The combat is cathartic and fun, and the enemies manage to be endearing while still being a tangible threat. In lieu of any official sequels, Mojang seems content with updating this game until the heat death of the universe, so there is always something new to come back to after a long break. The mobile version of Minecraft is now on par with the Console and PC versions, so there's never been a better time to revisit one of the original survival crafting video games.
9 Square Valley
If SimCity leaves you wanting something a little more pastoral, Square Valley is a good choice. Characterized as the mythical spirit of the valley, the player must improve the living conditions of the valley’s citizens and meet their demands, from planting apple trees to pulling new islands from the sea. These citizens give you a talking-to right away, demanding that we do not "disappoint." Probably the first god game where you get scolded before you burn anything down. The assets and facilities required by the settlements take the form of tiles to be placed on a map grid. Rivers and paths must be worked around to appease your entitled citizens. Wise decisions will yield more points, making it easier to meet the levels’ quota, requiring careful consideration from the player. If a contemplative experience is what you have in mind, unlike us, apparently, Square Valley does not disappoint.
Remember From Dust? Godus is the same kind of deal, a sandbox creativity toy based around terrain alteration and doting on mortals with zero survival instincts. You play as the deity worshiped by a race of PS1 resolution followers; your task is to enrich their lives with economic prosperity. This task makes up the primary loop, assisting your worshipers in expanding and improving their society, everything from flattening down solid terrain for construction to magicking rain to fall on crops. The game also gives you the option to rain down fiery meteors on your society and burn it to the ground, leaning into that ‘the player giveth and the player taketh away’ kind of mentality that comes naturally to god games. Despite this slightly psychotic gameplay prospect, Godus is very stylized and pretty, easy to control with a touch interface, and clearly understands that some players just want to watch their world burn.
11 Pocket City
Pocket City is a city management simulator in the same vein as SimCity BuildIt, putting you in charge of a thriving industrial city with the goal of expanding the settlement and keeping residents happy. You earn money and XP through completing quests, both of which can be exchanged for better building materials and terrain. Your citizens react dynamically to the things you build, either with happiness or sadness. Like in the best management and tycoon games on the Play Store, you can choose the smart and compassionate strategy to build a thriving metropolis and watch it succeed, or the psychotic route of summoning a “fun” tornado and watching your pretty creation fall apart. The game looks great; it’s brightly colored and charming. While it’s not as extensive as other games of this type, Pocket City is definitely worth your time, thanks to its fair monetization.
12 Evertech Sandbox
To end on a simple but promising note, Evertech Sandbox is a creativity tool that allows you to construct crazy and convoluted vehicles. You are given a blank canvas and a huge library of parts for a potential vehicle. But sticking these parts together does not make a car. You have to micromanage which parts interact with which via an in-game interface. Once you’ve connected the mad gadget, you are given the opportunity to drive it around a field. This is a good time to mention that this game is in early alpha, so more detailed maps to drive around are probably in the pipeline. Evertech Sandbox also offers a sharing mechanic that allows players to upload their own creations and download others. Overall, the process of building vehicles has the same tinkering charm that Minecraft contraptions present, and if that’s your thing, this game will hook you effortlessly.
Enjoy creative experiences made for mobile devices
Pocket City is a city management simulator in the same vein as SimCity BuildIt, putting you in charge of a thriving industrial city with the goal of expanding the settlement and keeping residents happy. You earn money and XP through completing quests, both of which can be exchanged for better building materials and terrain. Your citizens react dynamically to the things you build, either with happiness or sadness. Like in the best management and tycoon games on the Play Store, you can choose the smart and compassionate strategy to build a thriving metropolis and watch it succeed or the psychotic route of summoning a “fun” tornado and watching your pretty creation fall apart. The game looks great; it’s brightly colored and charming. While it’s not as extensive as other games of this type, Pocket City is definitely worth your time, thanks to its fair monetization.
Conclusion on Best sandbox games on Android in 2023
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