Sokobond is a PC puzzle game that combines logic, strategy, and chemistry into a simple and slick experience, but it does not come without its difficulty.
Your main goal on each level is to create a molecule using the atoms given. You can only control how one of the elements moves and cannot rotate it at will. This means the path you need to take to form the mystery molecule is the real challenge, not identifying which one you are trying to form. I have to say that thrilled me considering my abounding love for puzzles and complete ignorance to many of the basics of science. Despite doing decently in Chemistry in college, I can’t for the life of me remember what determines how many electrons an atom has and at this odd hour of night can’t find an explanation that makes sense. If you are smarter than me and the knowledge is of any use to you though, I have yet to meet an element with any more than four electrons though make sure to consider that I have only solved half the puzzles.
The visuals are clean and uncomplicated, only illustrating what is necessary for the task at hand. The atom you control moves promptly by using the arrow keys, and I have yet to encounter a problem with responsiveness or accuracy of movement. Luckily the game comes with an undo button, letting you go back one move, something helpful in a game with an infinite number of turns. Instead of a linear progression, you gain access to all locked levels touching the one you just finished on the grid which is starting to take the shape of the periodic table. This unique way of accessing levels allows you to move on to another puzzle when you get stuck, helping squelch some of the frustration I felt with the more difficult ones.
The best part of this game is subtle–the learning. The win screen after each level is a clear lesson. You get information on the molecule you created–what it is, where it’s found in the real world, its uses, and other interesting facts. Here are few of many:
What you don’t realize is happening is you’re developing a slow understanding of how molecular make-up works. I was never an expert at chemistry in high school, but now I know that atoms bond through their electrons and must stop once they run out of free ones; atoms can even double and triple bond if there are enough free electrons. If schools used this level of interactivity and creativity for the more complex subjects such as math or science, we would all be better off.