Blasting into Tuxedo Labs' Teardown for the first time, we felt as though we had a pretty good idea on how the experience was gonna go. This is a game that's all about destroying stuff, it's about destroying stuff that's made in a stunning voxel art style so that destroying that stuff looks incredible, and we were fairly sure we'd have a few hours of fun with it then get bored of the party trick and move on.
However, as it turns out, Teardown has managed to impress us with its ability to hook us in for long sessions and keep us coming back for more. Quite aside from the graphical prowess on display - this really is a jaw-dropper - and aside from how infinitely addictive it is to just smash up a bunch of very nice looking and highly reactive stuff on a primal level, it's actually how the devs have given you reason to stick at it that's been the most welcome surprise.
Giving you a sense of direction in destruction by having you play as the owner of a struggling demolitions company, the surprisingly meaty campaign sees you take on jobs from various shady characters as you work to save your business. These jobs involve collecting items, destroying buildings, stealing and doing anything else that's asked of you and many of them work on a timer, giving you a limited window to complete your mission after you've set off a security alarm. Yes, we know, timers generally suck, but it works well here in injecting tension into the mix so don't be put off by the idea of it.
As you begin a mission, you can look at overviews of the area you're going to drop into and plan your movements, decide what route you want to take and aim to be as efficient or creative as you like. Then you get the pay-off, dropping into the world and marvelling at the effort that's been put into having every material react differently, to have everything respond so spectacularly to being smashed and exploded, making every jaunt across one of the game's incredible-looking maps a joyful mish-mash of planning, targeted assaults and sweating it as the timer ticks down.
As the game progresses you'll gain access to a wider array of demolition tools, starting off with just a hammer and a spray-can you'll soon rise through the ranks towards gear like shotguns, bombs and even a rocket launcher. Later levels have more complex tasks, bigger objectives and more moving parts to figure out, and in bringing a light puzzle aspect to proceedings the game continues to compel well past the point we would have got bored with just blowing stuff up.
Teardown is a game that's had an extended run of early access on PC over the past few years, and you can see the polish and refinement this lengthy gestation period brings in just how well everything works, how slickly it all controls and moves, how well it performs and looks in both available graphical modes, and in how well-judged and layered the main missions are in order to keep you coming back for more. It's a delightful, assured and confident experience, one of the best-looking games we've played this year and an indie game that rises above its rather simple premise to become something we'll return to over time.
In this regard, it's a shame that Teardown has no form of multiplayer as of yet. With some form of co-operative or online play here we'd be looking at a game with real staying power. However there's no sign that this will ever become a reality so for now it's the main missions, a freeplay sandbox mode and mods to keep you busy. Mods on console versions of the game come as curated packs, there are already some cool ones available to play, and this could keep us coming back for more as long as it's kept on a nice rotation. The devs have also stated that expansions are incoming, so there's plenty to stick around for it seems.
With a well-judged price point, Teardown is an easy game to recommend to anyone looking for a little physics-based destructive fun. It's a very simple premise, one that could have been short-lived if it hadn't been handled with care, but Tuxedo Labs has been very clever with how it's built an entertaining campaign with light puzzle elements to keep you hooked in. If you're old enough to have been wowed by Red Faction's freeform destruction back in the early 00s, prepare to have your mind completely blown by how far things have come.
Teardown is a surprisingly addictive and compelling experience that takes the very simple concept of breaking stuff into bits and runs with it, serving up some of the best-looking destruction we've ever clapped eyes on. Yes, the lack of multiplayer modes is a bit of a sore point, but a well-designed and surprisingly meaty main campaign, alongside curated mod packs, means there's still plenty to dive into here for solo players. If you like wrecking stuff it's hard to knock what's on offer here, especially at the smart budget price point.