Anything the light touches in Teardown is ready to be destroyed. From heavily plastered brick walls to flimsy wooden sheds, Teardown gives you a variety of tools to make every little pixel blast a delight as you blast your way through its handful of playgrounds. carefully designed. It’s a game filled with inventive ideas and a simple, satisfying premise, even if it’s hampered by a campaign that suffers from poor pacing. Fortunately, its premise has enough depth to make Teardown a destructive sandbox toy worth returning to frequently.
Acting as a highly sought-after demolitions expert, your journey through Teardown’s campaign takes you through the game’s nine maps and peppers them with a variety of items that fuel its chaos. You’ll mostly be performing complex heists, though the success criteria will change from mission to mission. One might challenge you to steal multiple computers that are all hooked up to an alarm system, while another involves destroying a variety of expensive cars by finding ways to throw them into water. Most of the time, however, the objectives complement a familiar gameplay pattern: create a route across the map using your destructive tools so you can pull off the heist before any alarms you set off summon security at your position. Your limited movement speed and maze-like maps ensure you can’t brute force your way to a solution without carefully considering the route you make between objectives, while the tools at your disposal methodically limit your options for creating Engaging environmental puzzles to solve.
Your ability to destroy each stage is limited by the tools you have. You start with just a hammer and a fire extinguisher, which makes it easier to get through wooden doors and put out fires, but limits your ability to charge through brick walls. As you progress, you unlock more powerful tools and weapons, including explosives, rocket launchers, shotguns, and pipe bombs. Each has a limited number of uses, requiring you to carefully consider how you use each in the context of your goal. It’s always fun to just punch holes in walls with a shotgun or knock down a small office a few floors down with well-placed explosives or map-specific construction vehicles, with Teardown’s superb physics letting you to carry out your delicate planning with consistent and repeatable results.
It is disappointing, however, that the pace at which these new tools are distributed is so slow during the first half of the campaign. While this allows you to learn some of the intricacies of how Teardown’s systems work without being overwhelmed, it severely limits your ability to tear up maps in a fun way while preventing campaign objectives from changing too drastically. Although the underlying objectives change slightly between missions, most of the first half of the campaign sticks strictly to its structure of paths between elements and the construction of a hasty escape route. There are only so many times that can stimulate your destructive creativity without pulling you down similar, repetitive paths.
This is even more apparent once you begin to complete Teardown’s far more interesting campaign objectives, many of which recontextualize familiar maps in exciting ways. Attack helicopters and offensive robotic security cards add a stealth twist to the destructive action, turning the once flexible planning phase into a more tense one. Others, like a mission where you have to deal with a growing tornado or another where you have to stop a thunderstorm from igniting buildings and setting off a fire alarm, extend the mechanics of Teardown even further, shifting the focus from destruction to preservation. It helps the overall pacing immensely, but it feels like it’s happening so far into the campaign that you may have already been too bored from the repetition.
Outside of the structured campaign, Teardown becomes more of a sandbox toy that can be just as rewarding as its best DIY missions. A free-form Sandbox mode gives you all the tools available in the campaign with unlimited ammo and all upgrades unlocked, allowing you to wreak havoc on all unlocked maps. With no strict alarms or goals in place, Teardown’s meticulous destruction can be admired up close, letting you enjoy how its systems interact. The way fire spreads across flammable surfaces before being extinguished with thick smoke from a fire extinguisher looks surprisingly detailed given Teardown’s blocky presentation. Skylights flood interior environments with compelling detail once you’ve knocked down a wall or two to create a new entrance, providing a good example of how beautiful Teardown is when you’ve slowed down to take it all in. It’s fun to have all of Teardown’s restrictions removed, but it’s also not something you’ll likely keep you busy for hours.
A separate Challenge mode features additional game mode types you can play on the maps you’ve unlocked throughout the campaign. They’re mostly fun but short-lived distractions, giving Teardown a more arcade feel. One mode, called Mayhem, gives you unlimited access to all your tools and only gives you 60 seconds to create as much voxel-based destruction as possible. Another, named Hunted, has an armed helicopter invade a map as you dash around trying to pick up randomly appearing chests and stars. These challenges can break up the monotony of the campaign early on, even if you’re still confined to the same handful of maps you unlocked there, but there’s not much lasting appeal to them after a few dives. , especially without any cooperative or multiplayer aspect.
What has the potential to extend Teardown’s replayability is its already bustling mod scene. The game’s tight integration with Steam Workshop makes importing user-created maps and assets incredibly simple, with some being offered directly as official mods via the game’s main menu. maps from other games to those from pop culture, carefully reconstructed so you can take them apart later. Entirely new weapons are also available (the game’s launch trailer has a glimpse of a lightsaber, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), which also have their own destructive properties that you can apply to each of the different types of materials in the game. It’s just fun to experiment in these worlds, again emphasizing Teardown’s strengths as a creative and fun toy than that of an engaging single-player adventure.
Teardown’s greatest strength then lies in its underlying premise. The ability to jump into highly responsive maps with an assortment of fun tools to rip through them remains as entertaining as it was when I first started playing, and the chaotic nature of its physics is a constant source of joy. It’s a shame the campaign fails to capitalize on this in its first half, exacerbated by a slow trickle of new objectives and tools to use. These help expose Teardown’s clever design from the start, which doesn’t really become apparent until much later in its campaign. If you can get past that, or dive into the splashy modding scene, there’s plenty of cathartic mayhem in Teardown that’ll likely keep you coming back for more.