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Teardown Review (Xbox Series X|S & PlayStation 5)

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Teardown Promotional Art

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t felt the need to cave in to that primal urge of wanting to smash the living daylights out of a digital universe before. Fortunately for aspiring demolition enthusiasts like me, there’s an output that can quench those very urges—a safe space, of sorts, that allows such mindless aggression to spiral out of control on a regular basis — and it’s called Teardown. And boy, what better way to spend the pre-holiday season than to annihilate voxel-studded landscapes with a sledgehammer and shotgun? It’s the perfect recipe for disaster, and I honestly couldn’t have been happier to spend a dozen or so hours coughing up such remedies to subdue the cravings for mass destruction. To that, I say, thanks, Tuxedo Labs.

It’s been a day or two since I first stapled that hammer and chisel to my fist and went to town on the series of paper fortresses, and so, in my mind, I feel as though the urges are no longer alive and kicking. Question is, did I leave that part-time position behind at the right moment, or could I have quite happily spent the rest of the year blowing up the foundations for stately homes with hand grenades? Let’s talk about it.

Blow the Lid Off

Farmyard setting in Teardown

To give you a clearer idea of what Teardown is all about, the game, in short, is a physics-based first-person shooter—a mind-boggling voxel extravaganza in which you hop from one location to the next, and essentially blow bits and pieces to smithereens, all while working against the clock and a set amount of environmental curveballs, to boot. Sounds rather simple on paper, for sure — and it is. Truth is, that’s the exact thing that drew me to Teardown: it didn’t dress itself up as something it wasn’t; it came up with a basic concept, and it ran with it, even at the cost of losing out on any real thought-provoking storylines or revolutionary ideas. It had destructible maps, and it had explosives — and that, as simple as it was, was exactly what the team aimed to package into a surprisingly meaty campaign. And it worked, all things considered.

The goal of Teardown is as simple as they come: analyze a key location, and do all in your power to raise hell by any means necessary while working to beat a timer. During each round, you must locate a certain object—an item that, once collected, alerts the emergency services and presents you with a one-minute countdown timer, after which you must use the remnants of the broken map to flee for the hills. So, a bit like Payday — only without the roundhouse-kicking specialists and CCTV cameras to flag down your every wrongdoing.

Weapons and tools in Teardown take on the form of pick-and-mix gumdrops in a candy store — they’re plentiful, and they’re all varied in size and complexity. From hammers to explosives, firearms to bulldozers, the game itself has no shortage of usable ammunition, which means you can go gallivanting about with no real issues or drawbacks. Tidy.

Demolition Work Is Easy

Disused parking lot setting in Teardown

The good news is, Teardown isn’t all that difficult. If anything, it’s all rather straightforward and broken up into relatively easy sections. To start, you must pan around a map, which essentially gives you a brief look into the crags and crevices of the area. After that, you must acquire a set of tools—items with which you can use to either blow through walls, or topple buildings and surrounding structures. After that, it’s merely the case of securing your objective, and fleeting for the exit before the 5-0 come to put a stop to your unlawful habits.

As it stands, Teardown comes with a solid 40-mission campaign—a story in which each location comes installed with three types of Challenges. In short, there’s Fetch, which tasks you with stealing a set amount of items and escaping in your getaway vehicle; Hunted, which provides you with a similar objective, but with the added threat of being stalked by a number of enemies, including a helicopter gunship; and Mayhem, which grants you the chance to let loose on as many breakable things as possible in an allotted time. All in all, there’s a great deal to work with here, and thanks to the game’s destructible design, it brings more than enough replay value to keep you strolling back for another swing with the sledgehammer. Can’t really complain there.

In addition to all the core modes, there’s also a sandbox mode—an open space in which user-generated mods allow you to really push the boat out and get creative with all sorts of weapons and tools, including jetpacks and mini guns. So again, as far as content goes, Teardown isn’t exactly lacking, nor is it short on replay value, either, given the quantity of features each area of the game holds.

Now That’s Replay Value

Shopping mall setting in Teardown

As far as the actual gameplay goes, the bulk of your time is spent either planning your attack, or mashing buttons to cause chaos and, with a little luck, generate a few minor roadblocks for your active pursuers. And while the goals remain mostly the same, I for one found that the maps, each being unique in their own right, were what made the experience all the more memorable. It was all rather predictable, for sure — but that never exactly stopped me from wanting to move on to the next stage and do it all again.

Of course, if it wasn’t for the myriad of additional challenges and modes in each chapter, I probably would have combed over the bulk of the campaign in a couple of hours of less. But, due to the sheer volume of tasks and extracurricular activities, I found that, even once I had successfully obtained my stripes, I still had plenty more to go back to and mop up. And so, while the goals are all rather one-note, the game certainly holds a quality amount of replay value — a feature that carries a great amount of weight in this day and age.

Thankfully, Teardown doesn’t have all that many bugs to sift through, either. Sure, there’s the odd glitch in the matrix, which is often expected from a game that employs rag-doll physics and destructible mechanics, but for the most part, there isn’t a great deal to worry about. Plus, from my own experience, I found that, even when things felt like they were going a tad awry, it wasn’t all that much to fret over. For the most part, every cloud had a silver lining, and if there was one thing I came to learn from Teardown — it’s that silver linings were evidently commonplace.

Verdict

Factory setting in Teardown

In spite of its simplistic art style and basic gameplay design, Teardown is actually quite an entertaining first-person sandbox shooter. It’s also thick enough to produce dozens of hours of quality content, too, which makes the relatively low price tag seem all the more appealing. And so, if I had to answer the question of whether or not it’s worth the time, then I’d have to say yes — a thousand times, yes. However, as the game does fall short in the multiplayer department, it is a little difficult to recommend it to anyone who’s after a chaotic couch co-op experience from the comfort of their own homes. Swings and roundabouts, really.

From a technical standpoint, there isn’t all that much to write home about. In any case, it all performs to a substantial degree, and it only ever really falls behind on the odd occasion, both visually and mechanically. Having said that, these points aren’t necessarily the nails in the casket, so to speak, as a few quick fixes are sure to have them taken out in no time at all. So again, while there are a few bugs to squash, there’s nothing to say that a few quick whacks with the old sledgehammer won’t be able to completely obliterate them, either.

To answer the question, is Teardown worth the play? In short, yes, it is — especially if you’re fixated on the idea of conjuring short bursts of pandemonium in a voxel environment several times over. Sure, it isn’t the most complex concept in the world, but it’ll certainly provide you with enough raw material to scratch a couple of itches and leave you feeling oddly satisfied. And when all’s said and done, isn’t that what video games are all about?

Teardown Review (Xbox Series X|S & PlayStation 5)

Somebody Call Chumbawamba!

Teardown doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it certainly does apply a whole lot of elbow grease to make it spin a great deal faster. It’s simple, engaging, and ludicrously entertaining in all the right places — and I for one can’t wait to return to the sledgehammer to knock it all down again.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.