Teardown Review – Break Stuff

It's just one of those days!

Although Teardown has existed on PC for some time, its arrival on consoles is bound to be a welcome one for those who value carefully-planned anarchy. With an exemplary physics engine, made even more stunning through the destruction of itty-bitty voxels, Teardown is both a heist campaign with a bedrock of demolition goodness and a wildly entertaining sandbox that lets players vent their frustrations using a deep tool chest. For all intents and purposes, it’s kind of like Minecraft for grown-ups.

The star of the show is, without doubt, the physics engine that sees players able to pick apart the world brick by brick. The game built around this system is entertaining enough, with a full campaign serving as a several-hour tutorial for what’s possible. There’s a story that tells of an opportunistic demolitionist playing all sides of a nasty feud between greedy, corrupt businessmen, benefitting from a chess battle while seemingly playing as both white and black. The scenarios themselves prove to be a bit more interesting than the narrative as Teardown hurls a huge variety of stages at you throughout a ten-hour campaign.

In this campaign you’ll demolish private property, steal priceless rarities and drive all manner of cars and construction vehicles, all in the name of getting ahead. Each level has a primary objective that, when commenced, will trigger an alarm and start a countdown timer, leaving you finite time to get done what you can and get out of dodge. Each objective completed translates to an increase in rank, and every ten unlocks a new tool. Of course, secondary objectives exist for those wanting to level up faster although completing those will require very careful planning. All in all, there’s a satisfying drip feed of insanely fun ways to break shit.

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All of the fun is funnelled through your email inbox, accessible from the computer in your base of operations. For a game with such a striking visual identity, the fact that its menus and UI are so drab is unfortunate. But whether it’s seeking out missions or upgrades, it’s at least readable and easy to find. The upgrades in question, which can be applied to buff things like the damage output or capacity of your tools, are pretty run of the mill. They’re on the dear side too, considering most valuables you’ll thieve to pad your bankroll with will net you an average of a pineapple. As a result, it kind of falls by the wayside as petty destruction and driving cherry pickers through buildings is unsurprisingly more fun than living in menus.

With ten sandboxes to muck around in, there is no shortage of fun to be had. Whether you’re wanting to raze a chemical plant, hoon around a rich arsehole’s private race track, blow apart a shopping mall, or just relax on an exotic beach, there’s something for whatever flavour of relaxation you want. Each of the areas even has its own trio of challenges that test the player’s cunning and evasive skills as well as their ability to completely flatten everything in sight. 

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Beyond these basic challenges, Teardown has a pair of smaller expansions and a heap of curated community mods, ranging from whole levels to cool tools like a vacuum cleaner that regurgitates the voxels it hoovers up, that really do offer even more ways to play Teardown. I’ve had a lot of fun toying with the ‘Drive to Survive’ mod that turns the game into Keanu Reeves’ Speed, where if you can’t complete a circuit in time your car will spectacularly explode. I do hope that support continues and that, in time, more mods are added because that’s where Teardown’s staying power will come from, as cool as Creative Mode seems I don’t think the tools are quite as powerful as its contemporaries.

Teardown, on the heels of games like Cloudpunk, is another success story as far as the emergence of voxel art design goes. These worlds, made up entirely of voxel cubes, are incredibly lit, and have an unexplainable grounded quality despite their deliberate lack of lifelikeness. As I’ve stated, it’s the physics engine that does all of the heavy lifting with the spectacular ways that these worlds can be picked to pieces using some heavy armament. Rocket launchers and pipe bombs leave craters in the sides of buildings, while your trusty default sledgehammer can punch heartily through most things. It’s the small touches, like signage on buildings losing power as you shred through generators and power sources, that make it seem so real at times. But as wild as the engine is, when the destruction scales up to the point that a few of Teardown’s mods can offer, the frames halve and things begin to struggle.

I do adore when games appeal to a player’s creativity, and Teardown absolutely does with the problems it poses throughout its heist-happy campaign. It’s a cleverly designed, spectacular outlet for destructive expressionism and I’m intent on adding many more voxels to the millions I have already left in my wake. 

Teardown is a fun and ballistic sandbox for people intent on watching the world burn. Its war chest of tools and curated mods offer near limitless possibilities in the coolest game of its kind since Minecraft.
A crazy impressive physics engine
Plotting and scheming each heist vignette is a blast
Super fun sandbox to just cause a bit of havoc
Some sluggish frames during bombastic moments
The UI and menus tend to bog the fun down a bit