Everything in Teardown is destructible. That’s not an exaggeration, the game is made of voxels which, in essence, makes all terrain, furniture, objects, and buildings destructible and movable provided you have the right tools. It’s some very cool tech, but surprisingly hasn’t seen much interesting use. Teardown has a fantastic premise to go along with this technology: a heist game. Each level has you stealing certain things like paintings or cars in any way you see fit or even just destroying buildings. Unfortunately, the mission design often ends up too restrictive to be fun.
Starting with the good, one mission early on had me stealing some cars from the docks. Most of the cars had alarms attached to them and if that attachment was broken by moving it too far away, the alarm would go off and I would have 60 seconds to leave the level. Rather than meticulously finding a route where I could drive each car to the pickup location in under 60 seconds, I instead chose to simply move all of them with the alarms attached. I drove a boat one was on closer to my getaway vehicle, and used a tow truck to move another to the same location. This was easily the coolest part of the game since I had to figure out how to use my set of tools outside the box. You use things like a sledgehammer, wooden planks, a blow torch, and even a shotgun to create paths for yourself or remove obstacles. Some of these tools, like the shotgun or pipe bombs, are limited use in each level so make sure you use them wisely.
And by wisely I mean almost perfectly in some levels. One stage that was initially fun but quickly became a nightmare was one that asked me to topple a tower in a construction area. To do this, I used some bombs to knock down the walls just below the dotted line the game used to indicate the building now needed to be below. While it took some doing to get the rubble out of the way, I eventually got the majority of the tower to fall. That should be it, right? Well no, you need to be very exact with that dotted line and if even a single voxel is still above it and you’re out of items to destroy them you have to start the entire level over again. I had to redo this mission about 5 times because of a single voxel being out of place, which turned something fun – wanton destruction – into something incredibly tedious.
The worst the missions get is where you have no real room for creativity whatsoever. After a strong start and slowly unlocking more tools for your trade, it feels like you have less and less freedom to accomplish objectives. It gets to a point where every mission has you stealing small objects with absolutely no room for creativity. Figure out the perfect route to grab everything in one go or get filtered. It’s like taking a sandbox and completely leveling it if you don’t build the sand castle just right.
There is a sandbox mode, and while the technology is still cool, that still doesn’t solve the problem of having very few interesting things to do with it. It doesn’t help either that playing the game can be pretty nauseating. There’s a depth-of-field effect and something like a fish-eye lens which are neat to look at but difficult to play with, so thankfully you can turn them off, but the real kicker is the intense head bob when moving. You can’t turn this off or even reduce the effect, which had me taking long breaks between sessions.
This PS5 version also includes both DLC campaigns as well as some player-made mods. These include things like a simple speedometer all the way to entirely new levels and missions. One of the DLCs takes you back in time to the old West, which is incredibly cool and changes a lot of how you interact with the environment. While I loved the aesthetic, this still doesn’t change my issues with the game as a whole. Maybe I’m just not the right audience for Teardown, but it feels like a fantastic base is almost entirely wasted here.
David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.
Teardown has some cool tech and ideas behind it but is too structured and restrictive to give the player the freedom they crave.