Teardown review – Only a physics demo

The last time I truly played a voxel game was Cloudpunk, and if you’ve read that review then you’ll know my thoughts on how that went. Since then, voxel games have left a bad taste in my mouth. But Teardown? Now that was something that was sure to reset my interest in these types of games — a physics-based game with voxel graphics, something that didn’t look like a thrown-together mess and had some heart and character in it. I judged the book by its cover, and I was hooked.

See, Teardown is a really fun game. It’s got a fun story as you make your way up through the world of demolition — your clientele is constantly going back and forth with each other as you (anonymously) do their dirty work, while police and investigators try to track down criminal enterprises with your help. There’s no emotional depth to the narrative, but that’s totally fine. I mean, this game is about blowing stuff up while your GPU smolders under your desk; the story is a backdrop to the rest of the experience.

Some of the story is delivered to you via news headlines, other times via emails

So, what makes Teardown worth your time? Well, there are two major things you’ll do in this game: 1) blow everything up in Sandbox or 2) spend time in the campaign. Let’s tackle the campaign since we just spoke about the story. After every mission, you’ll receive an email from a client requesting your assistance with something. This might be destroying a monument so that your client can one-up their rival, collecting equipment for an investigation, or just helping out someone so their business can grow ahead of their competition. All of these involve breaking and entering in some capacity, and there’s a ton of semblance between each mission. For the ones where you need to collect something, the game will give you a time limit (typically about 60 seconds) to complete the objectives and get out. This could be stealing artwork, so you need to set up paths and routes to do so. You’ll spend a bit of time setting up your path, asking yourself a bunch of questions as you determine your strategy — which car should go where so I can get to the next objective faster? How can I get between two buildings so I can steal both artworks? Should I orientate the cars so I can hop out of one, get the piece, then hop into another? What’s the best escape route? In the campaign, the fun comes not from blowing stuff up, but from setting up your strategy and getting that burst of dopamine as you’re rewarded for a successful mission. Of course, Teardown tries to be an extremely replayable game by letting you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it — and, for a while it might appear as such, it will get pretty boring pretty quickly. We’ll return to that in a bit, but first, the Sandbox mode.

Just pure demolition, mindless fun

The Sandbox is where you’ll spend the other half of your time. Unfortunately, while you can get an unlimited amount of equipment to destroy and dismantle buildings with, there’s not much else to it. It’s fun for a time, but after a while, you’ll get bored of blowing everything and anything up. Of course, the fun comes from what you make of this mode. For example, do you wanna level the entire map? How about crashing one building onto another? What about setting up a heap of bombs and creating the biggest explosion known to man? Those kinds of questions will keep you playing, but, eventually, you’ll answer them.

My biggest gripe is that while the game is (for the most part) replayable, the amount of content is excessively repetitive. There’s a good number of maps, sure, but each mission starts you at a slightly different location, you’ll spend five or ten minutes setting up the route, perform it successfully, then move on to another map that you’ve already played. There’s a lot of back and forth; experience the same map over and over, get bored, move onto another map and… you get the idea.

I wish the game offered more to do than just blow stuff up and setting up speedrunning paths. Teardown would be a far better experience if there were hidden things to experience, like cutting the power so the alarm doesn’t go off and you can do whatever you want to the map, using a car as an explosive to level a building, using the machinery in the map to cause something cataclysmic, or exploring so much that you find hidden tools to use in the missions. The restriction of a time limit also means you can’t try a lot of your own ideas — you’re limited by the path you establish, and not by the creativity of your ideas.

With a deep interest in writing, Ben followed that into a Journalism degree. As an avid lover for gaming, he is constantly expanding his library with console, PC, and VR games. He's obsessed with stealth games and loves hunting down the smallest of details inserted by devs.




Review Guidelines

Teardown tears down the fabric of what a demolition physics game can be, yet replaces that with too many restrictions. All your fun will come from the creativity of your imagination, but that satisfaction falls apart when you’re limited by the tools the game has to offer. It’s such a shame when this game can offer so much more.

Ben Lombardo

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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