As my poor creatures quickly discovered, being adorable won’t save you from the dangers of rapidly escalating carbon dioxide levels in the cute Heliopedia solar sandbox.
The latest short game from Dutch indie collective Sokpop, Heliopedia is a surprisingly dense toy solar system. After waking up the sun and feeding them enough space filth to vomit up a planet, you’re tasked with turning a lifeless piece of rock into a thriving ecosystem.
You’ll scour ice, oxygen, and coal from the asteroid belts to kick things off, form an atmosphere, and make the soil fertile enough for life. Each new discovery rewards you with stars to unlock new sun items, including vital seeds and eggs needed to start life.
Despite the game’s typically mellow Sokpop appearances, managing an entire world is difficult. Each element interacts with each other, with trees and plants extracting carbon from the atmosphere, rain causing seeds to sprout. A complete atmospheric system risks drowning your world in CO2, and unstable planetary cores can see frequent volcanic eruptions.
And yet, work hard enough and you might end up with a little self-contained world. My first is a tropical ocean filled with volcanoes and thriving schools of fish while the second is a dense forested swamp teeming with delicious frogs. The third, an attempt to build a cooking savannah, takes a bit more work. At any time, you can feed more poop to the sun to summon a new world, though the star’s appetite gets a little harder with each new planet.
Heliopedia is available on Itch and Steam for £4/$5, or as part of Sokpop’s Patreon where the collective has been creating one game per month, every month for the past three years.