‘Teardown’ review: smashing!

You bought it, now break it

Teardown is a story about one person’s journey through the troubles of capitalism and family life. Your company is down on its luck, but you still need to support your dear old mum, and the only way you can do that is by accepting increasingly dodgy jobs. One thing leads to another, and you’ll quickly find yourself being blackmailed into doing anything from stealing advanced robotics, to dumping evidence into the sea.

You can generally consider Teardown to be a first-person heist game, but one where you’re every member of the Ocean’s Eleven, but rather than relying on being as handsome as George Clooney, you have to rely on an ever-increasing arsenal of tools. You start off with a sledgehammer, but rapidly work your way up to things like shotguns, explosive charges, and even rocket launchers. These robberies get harder too though, of course.

As you make your way through the campaign, the number of objectives you’ll have to complete often increases, or they become harder to manage. Your first mission is to knock down a house under the cover of night. There are no alarms to worry about, so it’s a simple intro. Things rapidly snowball though, and later missions will have you stealing multiple things from across a map, but taking a single one will trip an alarm.

Teardown. Credit: Tuxedo Labs.
Teardown. Credit: Tuxedo Labs.

It means that a lot of your time on each level will be spent on smoothing out your route and opening up the slides of buildings. Laying planks to help you get around and opening up shortcuts will help you take a two-minute run into a thirty-second one, and that’s often the most satisfying aspect of the campaign. It’s a good job, because some of the missions can feel genuinely unfair.

There’s also the matter of the final mission, which won’t be spoiled here, but does need discussing. You still have to destroy in the final mission, but it’s with the aim of protecting something, and it makes it feel like a throwback to Blast Corps, a strange little N64 game all about driving into buildings to save the world.

Along with the campaign, you’ll unlock sandbox levels and challenges too. These let you roam and destroy freely, or try and funnel that rage into a specific challenge, like trashing as many voxels as you can as fast as possible. It all adds up to make for an engaging experience, and it’s kind of nice to watch a building fall away to nothing after you’ve run into it with a flaming lorry.

Teardown
Teardown. Credit: Tuxedo Labs

However, all of this is only half the story with Teardown, and it’ll eventually be far less than that, and that’s because of the incredible mod support the developer has leaned into. Tuxedo Labs, the developer, has been leaning into the world of modding since releasing the game in Early Access back in 2020, and it’s an integral part of the game. So much so, in fact, that there are built-in mods for a few new weapons and the ability to create your own levels too.

It feels odd to be mentioning modding in a review, but it really is a core part of the game at this point. You can find nearly anything you can dream of in the Steam Workshop. New levels, new skins, and new weapons are yours to explore freely. There’s a popular mod called Tearware that effectively serves as a cheat engine if you don’t fancy struggling through the later levels or get bored of accidentally blowing yourself up.

Teardown. Credit: Tuxedo Labs.
Teardown. Credit: Tuxedo Labs.

There’s a mod called Raining Anything that lets you open up the heavens at will to rain whatever you want onto the floor. That means you can have vans falling from the sky at will to decimate a tall tower, or just because you think it’s funny. The weapon mods are where the game will shine for a lot of people though. There’s one that literally lets you summon flaming tornados at will which you can control as they rip through levels. Or if you prefer lightning, just summon a lightning ball to deconstruct everything in your path.

The sheer scale of mod support for Teardown means that, despite having only just officially released, you can already trawl through the workshop to discover new ways to play the game. It’s not all over-powered tools either, you can find new and more challenging maps, or new modes even. The world is truly your sandbox in Teardown, and while the story mode might be all about destruction, the game’s going to end up with a legacy that’s just as much about the sheer creativity of those who play it.

Teardown offers players a chance to live out their most destructive dreams in a beautifully rendered voxel world. Everything you see can be blown up, knocked down, or made to fly if you’ve got the right tools. Each mission riffs on the last to slightly twist what you know and then alter how you think about the game. Once the campaign is over, it then challenges you to start trying to create, or to explore the things others have already made. It’s one of those games that only really ends when you decide that you’ve had enough, and it’s a truly magnificent playground to get lost in.

Teardown launched on April 21 and is available on PC.

The Verdict

Teardown is about causing as much carnage as possible, but then funnelling that into something manageable. It’s about streamlining your play in the campaign before becoming completely unhinged in the sandbox modes. It’s about having as much fun as possible in whatever way you want, and it’s a blast.

Pros

  • Carnage looks beautiful
  • Incredibly satisfying destruction physics
  • Already some of the coolest mods you could hope for

Cons

  • Campaign can feel a little unfair at times
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