Towards the end of 2020, developer Tuxedo Labs released an Early Access build of its debut game, Teardown, which quickly stood out from its indie peers due to its fully destructible world. Anything players can get within swinging distance of can be destroyed with sledgehammers, blowtorches, and various vehicles—including, but certainly not limited to, bulldozers, cranes, luxury cars, trucks, and be boats. Recognized at the 2021 Independent Games Festival as a nominee for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and a winner in the Excellence in Design category, Teardown perfectly sets the stage to become a destructive force to be reckoned with. Teardown is an easy game to fall into from the start. It’s a deceptively beautiful game that offers a surprising amount of detail when it comes to its physics. For certain materials such as wood, fire really spreads and burns things to ashes. Smoke particle effects even surround the fire as it burns, particularly stunning at night. Experimentation with weapons produces satisfactory results, as buildings collapse if the foundation is forcibly removed. Sudden lightning strikes can bring lightning storms that will remove chunks of a building and cause fires, and with future equipment acquisitions, players are free to manipulate their surroundings to do almost anything they want. them. The teardown starts in three modes. The campaign, where players will work their way through a series of heists and climb the ranks to become the ultimate thief. Challenges, where players are thrown into random environments, are given a fixed, specific set of tools to use, and must complete arcade-style objectives. And, the best mode of the bunch, Sandbox, where players receive fully upgraded tools and are free to create and destroy to their heart’s content, bringing out the best in the game’s promises freedom, creativity, and experimentation. In Punch-Out!! terms, if Sandbox mode is the Mike Tyson-esque big-league slugger ready to knock any opponent out for the count, Campaign mode is, unfortunately, the awkward, easy-to-beat Glass Joe. The campaign mode begins with a short tutorial and an email from the mother of the faceless main character, informing them that the gas bill needs to be paid, and money is tight. Desperate, the protagonist is forced to do a job of a dubious nature – a general manager at a nearby mall needs a building demolished so that a new wing of the mall can be built in its place. With that simple directive, players are given their initial loadout consisting of a sledgehammer, spray can, and fire extinguisher, and the game’s first official mission begins. By exploring environments and obtaining valuable items—or completing optional objectives—players can receive money to upgrade their tools, making them more useful in wreaking havoc. or maximizing availability to complete a mission. As players unlock tools, they will be able to manipulate materials such as metal and plastic, expanding their options when planning an escape route to save as much time as possible. Many missions pulse with the inevitable crash of an alarm system, and players have to get to their escape vehicle with their ill-gotten goods within a minute before the police arrive. During a player’s campaign, a wide range of objectives need to be met. Players will find themselves stealing cars, destroying buildings, and even throwing safes containing important information overboard where they will never see the light of day again. There is a top-down view of the entire layout of each level readily available where players can clearly see where each target item is and can plan their heists accordingly, and the end of each mission will show a shortened replay of the player’s movements, offering a moment of celebration and achievement upon completing a challenging heist. The game’s efforts at a full campaign, however, is where the cracks start to show. Teardown is a game that could—and probably should—work without the need for a “story.” Sadly, there has to be something to tie one mission to the next and provide context and a sense of escalating why and how certain events occur. Here where players won’t meet any actual characters or hear any voice dialogue of any kind where such a feature could have gone a long way in making the game’s attempt at a “story” more enjoyable- he. Instead, players will go to their home base after each mission and read many, many emails from their ever-expanding list of clients. Sometimes, a conflict may arise between two clients, prompting players to steal priceless artwork or expensive cars or destroy the other’s places of business. Then, instead of feeling the weight of the stakes involved, players pick up their tools and go on a similar hunt for items and/or create a path of destruction through mostly empty, lifeless level. Sure, there are robotic surprises that pop up mid-game to throw a wrench into players’ meticulously planned plots, but for the most part, it’s just the player, their tools, and a set of goals that start combine the longer the game. After a while, the lack of other characters to interact with or account for the planning and execution stages of a heist feels overwhelming, and a heist just feels so much fun without the vitality of that one element. of man. In a Hitman or Payday, there’s a palpable thrill to mission successes or failures; there’s fun in learning the lay of the land, figuring out ways to escape, and improvising when a plan goes awry. The Teardown campaign makes that process feel secondary to its demolition-based chaos rather than refined alongside it. That’s probably the point, but it makes the game feel like a glorified—albeit very fun—tech demo rather than a full-fledged game. Side quests appear from time to time, trying to add variety to the proceedings. Like the game’s heist component, some side quests are also lacking, as the controls for anything not specifically in the service of wanton destruction are floundering and imprecise. Instead of driving a bulldozer through someone’s garage or using a forklift to get to a hard-to-reach spot, players will find themselves engaging in a race to beat someone’s best time, and the cars is moving as if always under a thick layer of ice. Teardown is a great game when it uses its strengths. Tuxedo Labs has created a technical marvel of a game reminiscent of Red Faction: Guerrilla where destruction is its bread and butter and deserves endless praise on that front. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as throwing explosives at a building where it’s weakest and watching it crash to the ground or explode into glorious pieces. All the surrounding elements, however, from the slow variety and diminishing returns of the heists to the lackluster campaign, work against Teardown to create an uneven seesaw that soars to its heights but weakens as it slowly descends from its great height. Teardown is now available on PC. Today Technology has been provided the PC code for the purposes of this review.