Tuxedo Labs’ recent Teardown proved to be a great sandbox simulator where you could just wreak havoc upon a wide variety of environments, and countless fans just lapped it all up on PC. The game has finally been released on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and the core gameplay remains as fun and enjoyable as ever before – albeit with a few minor flaws that we will be discussing in this review.
Having jumped into Teardown for the first time since its release, it was important for me to be eased into its mechanics and gameplay – and the game generally does a good job of doing just that with its tutorial and set of opening levels. The mechanics themselves are pretty simple, with the player just having the ability to move around and jump over small obstacles. You can also push stuff around or open doors, but that process feels somewhat sloppy with you having to hold down a trigger button and pull back the analog stick to simulate that movement. It never feels too precise, and there were multiple instances where I struggled to open doors in cramped spaces.
But of course, the real fun of Teardown comes from the destruction mechanics on offer. Players have access to a wide array of tools ranging from sledgehammers to blowtorches to shotguns and much more that can be used to bring down towering structures in no time. The destruction mechanics are surprisingly detailed, and you can use your understanding of basic physics to efficiently tear down houses and structures within moments – and that process is extremely satisfying to master.
"The destruction mechanics are surprisingly detailed, and you can use your understanding of basic physics to efficiently tear down houses and structures within moments – and that process is extremely satisfying to master."
Teardown features a campaign mode that acts as a way to take you from one sandbox situation to the next. There isn’t much in the name of a proper story; you basically take up jobs from one contractor or businessmen after another – but the game manages to add an element of light-hearted fun into the mix by creating funny situations with these contracts. For instance, you might be tasked to steal a car from a businessman. Then the next task would be a revenge plot where the guy whose car got stolen would ask you to dump that same car in the water from the new owner’s garage. Again, the story isn’t anything particularly special – but it is decently fun and never takes itself too seriously.
Teardown has a decently steep learning curve since the level of freedom afforded to you can be too much to take in at first. The first job involved leveling a house to the ground, and doing that took me over 10 minutes as I tried to level it all down using propane tanks and sledgehammer strikes. But then I took a look around and found a bulldozer lying around at one corner of the map, and using that reduced my completion time to under just 2 minutes.
The first couple of missions feature straightforward objectives, and that acts as a good way to ease you in this framework of optimizing your actions. And then the game introduces the heists – where you essentially have to steal a number of goods and make it out of there in one piece. Basically, the first thing you steal will trigger an alarm – so you have to complete other objectives as well as make it to the escape point before the timer runs out.
"Teardown has a decently steep learning curve since the level of freedom afforded to you can be too much to take in at first."
Of course, that’s easier said than done – since objectives are usually spread far from one another and they are also nested deep into buildings. So you have to strategically place cars, break down certain walls, and make all sorts of arrangements in an effort to chart a convenient path back to your escape route which covers all the required objective points.
But what makes it all so impressive is the sheer variety of approaches that you can take to complete your objective. So while I might break down a couple of buildings and use a vehicle to swiftly move between one another – you might opt for a completely different approach altogether. There were moments where I felt like I was fighting against the controls in trying to do something, but more often than not it meant that I was looking at the problem the wrong way. So when I took a step back and tackled it in a different way, I was able to figure out a working solution within some time.
Teardown puts a lot of emphasis on player agency, which is what makes each map a highly replayable experience. And the game also incentivizes players to replay these levels with additional objectives and hidden treasures dotted throughout the map, collecting which will increase your overall score at the end. It’s a decent motivation to check out other paths and improve your mastery of a particular map since you will be returning to the same locations multiple times during the campaign.
"Tuxedo hasn’t changed much of the UI and you will still find cursors and weapon wheels meant to be operated with a mouse scroll on consoles, and that makes navigation and tool swapping somewhat inconvenient."
As for the progression, you will slowly unlock new tools of destruction as you make your way through the campaign. Some are obviously more useful than others, but it’s a good motivation to keep things interesting for a while. Apart from that, you can use the accrued cash from the jobs that you did to buy upgrades for your tools of destruction. These upgrades are iterative in nature as opposed to radical, but they can certainly be valuable – so I did spend my cash on making them more efficient for my use case.
A minor issue that I found with Teardown’s transition to consoles is with regards to the UI. Tuxedo hasn’t changed much of the UI and you will still find cursors and weapon wheels meant to be operated with a mouse scroll on consoles, and that makes navigation and tool swapping somewhat inconvenient. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it is something that is worth putting it out here.
"Coming over to the visuals and performance, Teardown looks really great from a graphics standpoint – despite it being based on a seemingly primitive voxel art style."
Once you are done with the campaign, you can choose to walk through three sets of challenges – namely Fetch, Mayhem, and Hunted which are all pretty different from one another. Or you could jump into the sandbox mode to screw around with the environments and get a better sense of the underlying physics model of Teardown.
Coming over to the visuals and performance, Teardown looks really great from a graphics standpoint – despite it being based on a seemingly primitive voxel art style. The lighting and shading model in particular looks really great, and there were plenty of instances where I was genuinely impressed by the beauty that lies within the simplicity of Teardown’s art style. As for the performance, I encountered no hiccups during my review, and there weren’t any bugs to speak of either.
Except for a couple of minor issues, Teardown’s transition to consoles has largely been a smooth one. The game looks great, performs well, and its core gameplay of player-driven mayhem remains a literal blast through and through. It’s not a game for everyone since the planning phase for a heist is usually much longer than the execution phase, so it’s not high-intensity action all along. But if you even have a passing interest in the concept of Teardown and weren’t able to give this game a shot on PC, consider this as your cue to pick this one up.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Surprisingly detailed destruction mechanics; open-ended gameplay; minimalistic but entertaining story; beautiful visuals.
Cumbersome interface; Occasionally frustrating controls.