Teardown First Impressions

Teardown is a heist game in a fully destructible world where you can use anything from vehicles or explosives to create shortcuts. Originally shown off this summer during one of Geoff Keighley’s streams, I remember being hyped the first time I saw it. Now it’s out for an early-access release on Steam and the following are my first impressions of Teardown.

Teardown is a strangely exhilarating game. You can smash, break and bust through walls in an environment that’s similar looking to Minecraft, but with updated textures and environments. It’s first-person and you have a few tools like a hammer, spray can and fire extinguisher to cause mayhem and ultimately escape from each level with the goods on a pre-planned optimum path.

At first, it feels like a very good and well-polished tech-demo, but the game has two central modes. There’s a sandbox mode where you can simply play around with the physics – smashing, jumping and literally tearing down all manner of buildings and environments. There’s also the campaign mode where you are a thief, down on his luck and needing some extra cash for the family. The main objective in each level is to scout out the area and find the valuables and then plan the fastest route to obtain all valuables before making it off in your getaway car.

You’re going to have to be fast though. Once you trigger the security system by touching one of the items you’re required to collect you generally have 60-secs to speed through the rest of the level, pick up what you need before making a getaway. Optimum paths can be found by smashing walls with trucks, banging holes in the side of houses with your hammer or driving vans into lakes to provide makeshift bridges. Once you’re set up your path, then it’s a race against the clock to get out of there.

The tasks do vary. In the opening hours of the game, you’re handheld through the various tools and mechanics. When you’re dropped into a level for the first time it’s all about finding the location of the valuables, or perhaps you have to knock something down completely. Keep an eye on the objectives and the fail states though, as sometimes you can trigger security systems that will make you fail fast. I picked up a blowtorch after the first mission, used it straight away on my second mission only to find that fire would set off the security alarm.

The exciting part is the race to exit. You’ll be scouting out the locations for the items and then it’s about planning your optimum route through the existing building. You may have to run up some stairs so perhaps busting a hole in the wall, or clearing a building completely off the map will help you gain that extra 5 secs you need to help you get to your van at the end to make a clean getaway. If you don’t make it before the timing runs out then the cops show up and you have to start all over again. You’ll likely spend plenty of time surveying and preparing, maybe even practising your runs.

Some of the solutions can be surprising. There was one job I was on where I had to get a couple of safes out of buildings and into the sea (I had to destroy some ownership records on a pier to make room for my friend’s yacht). I casually went up to a building, smashed a hole in the wall rather than going through the door as you do, and then went upstairs only to find I could move the safe with just my hands or my tools. No worries, I ran outside to find a truck and drove it through the building, only to find the safe dropped neatly into the truck I just ran through the houseā€¦ and then drove that off the pier and into the sea.

The environment physics feel really good. Close up there’s not much fidelity as it gives off a similar feeling to a world in Minecraft, although that’s selling it kind of short as there are much better textures at play here. Minecraft is the obvious comparison though as everyone can relate to that blocky world in a first-person 3D space. You can knock down houses brick by brick with your hammer, or burn down places with your blow torch. The fire simulation feels really good and realistic. Again, on my pier early on in the game, I had to destroy a whole building (at this time not knowing about the fire alarm warning) and I set this place on fire. Much to my surprise and horror, the fire spread easily from one building to another. Sometimes the physics can feel a little weird when you’ve knocked down the perimeter of a building and the thing is still standing. However, there’s nothing more satisfying than bulldozing a warehouse and especially creating an optimum route through a bunch of warehouses to help that clean getaway.

There’s much more of a story to the game than I was expecting. You have your sandbox mode, which is great for playing around however after a few minutes of smashing and understanding how I can interact with the environment I needed an objective to sink my teeth into. The campaign mode is great, building tension with the heist mode of gameplay with tense music building during the planning phase then dramatic music during the 60-sec getaway sequence. You’ll likely fail a few times too, creating an element of a time trial against yourself. It’s very satisfying to gather everything and reach the goal with only a second or so remaining.

Teardown provides you with plenty of tools to aid your destructive habits. When you start out you have a hammer, extinguisher and spray can. You can also get into cars, trucks, bulldozers and boats. Each vehicle has a health bar so smash something too much and it’s simply going to be useless to you. I did notice the water effects looked great in this game. Initially, on the first inspection, you could write this off for having simplistic graphics, but look closer and you’ll see something refined and high fidelity.

I am really enjoying my time with Teardown. I was hyped when I first saw it and now that I’ve played the game, which is currently available in early access on Steam, I’m even more excited and can’t wait to get back into it. It’s something you can dip in and out of with the sandbox mode, or you can have extended play sessions through the campaign. This might be good after a tough day to go into Teardown, smash up a few things and help relax like a 21st-century squeeze ball. I’m certainly enjoying my time with it and it’s definitely one I can recommend you try.

Developer: Tuxedo Labs
Platforms: PC via Steam early-access
Release date: 29th October 2020

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