The last time I really played a voxel game was Cloudpunk, and if you’ve read this review (hyperlink) you’ll know what I think of how it turned out. Since then, voxel games have left a bad taste in my mouth. But dismantling? It was something that was sure to rekindle my interest in these types of games – a physics-based game with voxel graphics, something that didn’t look like a mess and had heart and character. I judged the book by its cover, and I was hooked.
You see, Teardown is a really fun game. It’s a fun story as you progress through the world of demolition – your clientele constantly comes and goes as you (anonymously) do their dirty work, while the police and investigators try to track down criminal enterprises with your help. . There’s no emotional depth to the narrative, but that’s fine. I mean, this game is all about blowing stuff up while your GPU smolders under your desk; the story serves as the backdrop for the rest of the experience.
So what makes Teardown worth your time? Well, there are two main things you’ll be doing in this game: 1) blow everything up in Sandbox or 2) hang out in the countryside. Let’s talk about the campaign since we just talked about the story. After each mission, you will receive an email from a client asking for your help with something. It could be destroying a monument so that your client can surpass their rival, collecting materials for an investigation, or simply helping someone so that their business can grow before their competitors. All of these involve breaking and entering to some degree, and there’s a ton of resemblance between each mission. For those where you need to collect something, the game will give you a time limit (usually around 60 seconds) to complete the objectives and exit. It can be about stealing works of art, so you have to set up paths and routes to do it. You’ll spend some time planning your way, asking yourself a bunch of questions as you work out your strategy – which car needs to go where so I can get to the next objective faster? How can I move between two buildings to be able to steal both works of art? Do I need to steer the cars so I can jump out of one car, grab the coin, then jump into another? What is the best escape? In the campaign, the fun doesn’t come from blowing stuff up, it’s from setting up your strategy and getting that dopamine hit 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 seem like it will get pretty boring pretty quickly. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, Sandbox mode.
The sandbox is where you will spend the other half of your time. Unfortunately, while you can get an unlimited amount of equipment for destroying and dismantling buildings, there isn’t much else. It’s fun for a while, but after a while you’ll get bored of blowing up anything and everything. Of course, the fun comes from what you do with this mode. For example, do you want to level the whole map? How about crashing one building into another? What about setting a bunch of bombs and the biggest explosion known to man? These kinds of questions will spur you on to play, but you’ll end up answering them.
My biggest complaint is that while the game is (mostly) replayable, the amount of content is overly repetitive. There are a good number of maps, sure, but each mission starts you off at a slightly different location, you’ll spend five or ten minutes setting up the route, successfully completing it, then moving on to a different map than you have already played. There is a lot of back and forth; experiment with the same card over and over again, get bored, switch to another card and… you get the idea.
I wish the game offered more to do than just blow stuff up and set up speedrun paths. Takedown would be a much better experience if there were some hidden things to go through like cutting the power so the alarm doesn’t go off and you can do whatever you want on the map, use a car as an explosive to level a building, use the machines on the map to cause something cataclysmic, or explore so much that you find hidden tools to use in missions. Restricting a time frame also means you can’t try many of your own ideas – you’re limited by the path you establish, not the creativity of your ideas.
Teardown destroys the fabric of what a demolition physics game can be, but replaces it with too many restrictions. All of your enjoyment will come from the creativity of your imagination, but that satisfaction crumbles 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.
With a deep interest in writing, Ben followed this into a journalism degree. Passionate about games, he constantly expands his library with console, PC and VR games. He is obsessed with stealth games and loves to track down the smallest details inserted by developers.