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Dysmantle review for Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: 10tons
Developer: 10tons
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Normally I’m not one for post-apocalyptic games, but Dysmantle offered something special: the promise that you could destroy (almost) everything in sight. As someone whose favourite game of all time might just be Red Faction: Guerrilla entirely because you can destroy everything, that spoke to me.

Sadly, Dysmantle doesn’t offer the same level of destruction. The whole point of the game is destroying everything around you so that you can gather supplies, but the destruction is here much more targeted and on a much smaller scale.

Of course, that’s sort of the point: you’re in a post-apocalyptic world, scavenging for supplies and avoiding or killing zombies. It would be silly to allow players to ruin everything right off the bat.

But at the same time, Dysmantle makes it a chore to destroy even the smallest things. You start off with a weak crowbar, and then you very slowly hack away at small items until you gather enough supplies that you can upgrade the crowbar enough that you can hack away at slightly larger items. Repeat that for hours on end, and you’ve got a sense of the basic gameplay loop.

To be fair, that’s leaving out a few things. There’s combat, for starters. The world is, naturally, also filled with zombies, most of which can kill you with two hits. Consequently, you need to get very good at dodging, very quickly. Luckily, the game controls well enough so that it’s quite easy to do this – even if, like me, your instinct in games is to run headlong into every battle, never dodge, and hack away until you win.

The other big thing here (which I sort of touched on with the crowbar upgrades) is crafting. To be blunt: it’s very poorly implemented, and requires a lot of grinding. Almost right off the bat, for example, you find that you’ll need a lockpick – except you can’t craft those until you’re at level 10. Likewise, the game tells you early on that you’ll need to craft a tool to hack communications towers – except you can’t craft them until you’re at level 7. As a result, you spend a lot of time hitting everything you can, just to very slowly build up your XP.

Thankfully – and I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible – you get lots of opportunities to hit things, because until you can hack the communications tower, enemies respawn every time you go back to camp. Since you have to go back to camp every time your health gets low or you want to craft anything, that means you fight the same monsters in the same locations pretty frequently, to the point it can feel like you’re just doing the same areas over and over again. I get that the game wants to encourage grinding, but that’s kind of ridiculous.

Then again, if grinding and survival are what you’re after, you could do a whole lot worse than Dysmantle. It’s demanding, but the game always makes it very clear what it expects from you. It hasn’t won me over to survival horror, but it’s a lot more accessible than most games in the genre – which, from me, counts as a glowing recommendation.

10tons provided us with a Dysmantle Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B