It’s rare that a video game grabs me within the opening ten minutes, but that’s what Teardown has done for me.
Made by a small, independent studio known as Tuxedo Labs based in Sweden, Teardown does what gaming is set out to do in brilliant style: mad, endless fun. Early Access has seen a slew of really cool stuff this year. I know there’s a lot of stigma attached to games that release in an early state and ask for money in return for playing it early, but I enjoy exploring them. Indie studios are where the innovation exists, so I’m happen to explore and have a deep look inside them. 2020 has seen some excellent games in this regard, and Teardown is one of the best launches from a small studio I’ve seen in recent years.
It’s wonderful to see this. We’ve seen incredible surges in some games (Among Us), while others like Fall Guys and Phasmophobia have also seen a lot of coverage. Teardown is looking like another huge hit with the consumers, and it’s wonderful to see. You can probably guess this will be a rather glowing review, but I’ll try and point out the game’s flaws as well.
So, what is Teardown? Here’s the gist of it, according to the Steam page:
“Prepare the perfect heist in this simulated and fully destructible voxel world. Tear down walls with vehicles or explosives to create shortcuts. Stack objects to reach higher. Use the environment to your advantage in the most creative way you can think of.” -SteamPowered.com
The story is still in development, and because this game is in early access, it may be a while before we see the full thing, but the basis is you’re a struggling demolition company in hard times. Pressured by this, you end up taking increasingly dodgy contracts from some messed up people eager to cause as much chaos as possible, often putting you in the middle. There’s 20 missions at launch in four different locations, featuring stuff like picking up valuables, stealing stuff and plain old destruction. There’s alarms to work around, and a time limit to get through them. This ends up with a lot of work around the map, as you explore tricks and ways to nab your targets in the time limit. This is both stressful and fun, because the game sandbox gives you so many options.
You get to destroy everything with the right tool in a brilliantly designed voxel world. I don’t think I’ve seen a system like this in a while that shows off physics in a way this game does, and it does it in an addictive way. Blow up or destroy things to form bridges, parkour across buildings, smash windows to jump in from odd angles, and so much more. You get ten tools to use, from smashy hammers, to pipe bombs, to blowtorches and guns. You unlock these by completing objectives, which is a nice incentive to keep doing them. Primary and secondary objectives contribute, and the more you do, the more you’ll increase in rank. Jumping ranks means unlocking more weapons.
Fire also spreads. Use explosives inside a place with flammable material, and the fire will take hold, resulting in awesome results. It looks amazing, though it will tank your framerate after a while. There’s also a ton of vehicles to drive, with their own physics and some rather nice driving controls. Diggerland was a nice place in the UK I used to go to as a kid to drive diggers; always an awesome experience. Teardown reminds me of that, only you get to destroy stuff as well.
The mission design is very simple but it’s always fun. Usually you have alarms that break, and you need to grab everything on the map and flee. With only 60 seconds to pull off these type of missions, this makes for some really tense and exciting moments in which you need to prepare everything beforehand. I know some people dislike this mechanic and they want to be able to destroy things without time constraints, but there’s a sandbox mode for every map for that reason. The gameplay loop is simple, but highly effective in keeping attention. I’d say there’s about 20-30 hours of content in this current version, but it’s the perfect game to let off steam too. With mod support coming and more missions in the future, its going to be one chunky game for a very reasonable price tag.
Visuals are rather pretty. Everything can be destroyed in some form, and the game gets rather gorgeous in spite of its simplistic design. These examples should show off some of them:
Performance is weird to discuss, because while I’ve had a few issues with framerate, I completely understand why. Every single piece of this world has its own physics, so in some ways, it’s quite impressive how well it runs. You’ll still need a beefy computer to get this running perfect, and I discourage smashing large objects into buildings too much. It doesn’t matter how powerful your system is, that kind of destruction all at once will be taxing on your computer. Same goes for any large-scale fires, so play around with the options. Speaking of, while there are a decent amount of things to change options wise, I would like to see more.
If there is a flaw I can find, it’s that while the physics is pretty well implemented, you’ll see some odd things where entire houses are held up by only a few pieces of metal/concrete. If they can fix this, it’ll go a long way, as right now it feels a bit like Red Faction: Guerrilla in that regard.
Teardown can be picked up right now on Steam for $20/20 Euros/£18.49, a rather generous price tag given the amount of content, the polish and the potential to come. I’ll say this now, I’ve rarely been as impressed by an opening in a while, and I feel Teardown has that rare grasp few games possess. I expect this to be a big name over the next 6-9 months of this crazy year.