Also on: PC, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Saber Interactive
Developer: Tuxedo Labs
I went into Teardown ready for it to be…if not the game of the year, then at least a strong contender for my game of the year. All I knew – and all I thought I needed to know – was that it was built around maximum destruction, in a world where you could literally drive a truck through anything. As someone who still wishes for a proper sequel to Red Faction Guerrilla where you can destroy everything in sight, I had high hopes.
While I was ultimately disappointed in the game (for reasons that I’ll explain momentarily), Teardown mostly delivers on its promise. Over a series of levels – not to mention a few additional modes and mods – the game allows you to smash things with your trusty sledgehammer, burn things to the ground with a blowtorch, and drive cars and trucks and boats through buildings, along with a host of other tools to help you achieve your dream (or, at least, my dream) of leveling the world around you.
What’s more, it does this with impressive performance, never showing any signs of slowdown no matter what you throw at a level. True, we’re talking about a voxel world, so it’s not as if you’re destroying some photorealistic masterpiece, but the game still deserves credit for achieving its ambition while still being functional.
My problem with Teardown – which I fully admit is more of “me” problem than anything else – is that it delivers all this destruction in the most boring, structured, repetitive campaign imaginable. It gives you all the tools to have a blast in a destructible world (quite literally, since you can throw explosives at walls), and then almost immediately places limits on what you can do. You can’t bash your way through every wall, since some are reinforced. You can’t just steal whatever you want, because some items – many of which are key to moving the plot along – have alarms on them that end the levels within 60 seconds whether you’ve achieved your objectives or not. Rather than letting you destroy to your heart’s content, Teardown puts limits on everything.
Obviously, there are two holes in my complaints – even if I don’t necessarily agree with the counterarguments. First, there is a sandbox mode, where you’re free to use what you’ve unlocked so far to cause destruction without limits. The problem is that qualifier: you’re free to use what you’ve unlocked so far – and seeing as the game almost immediately forces you to tone down your destruction in favour of being more methodical, you really need to play through a big chunk of the campaign to make the sandbox worthwhile.
Secondly, there’s the argument that Teardown needs to have some kind of plot and some kind of challenge, or else it’s barely more than a tech demo. And while I’m sympathetic to that, I’d counter with the fact that tearing down buildings with a sledgehammer is super fun, and how dare Teardown’s developers force me to be strategic when those walls and those explosives are just begging to be introduced? Seriously, though, I understand that the good folks at Tuxedo Labs made a serious effort to create a game that’s much, much deeper than it initially sounds like, and I salute them for that – but I still feel a little disappointed that the game isn’t just rampant destruction.
Obviously, it ultimately comes down to how much you want a game that gives you insane levels of power but that also puts checks on it. You’re the creative type who appreciates that balance, there’s plenty to like in Teardown. If you just want to go smashy-smashy, you can do that here, too, but the end result may be more frustrating than you’re expecting.
Saber Interactive provided us with a Teardown PS5 code for review purposes.