Have A Blast Destroying Everything In This New PS Plus Game
Teardown breaks open the sandbox formula.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This immutable law of physics translates beyond science, to something akin to karma. An unjust action must be remedied with an equal, but opposite, reaction. This is why watching any kind of tension get resolved, whether it's the clickety-clack of Newton’s Cradle or the epilogue of a true crime story, satisfies something deep inside us. It’s the same feeling you’ll get from one of the newest titles on PS Plus, a unique voxel sandbox where physics and justice play together at last.
Teardown from Tuxedo Labs dropped on PC last year but finally made its console debut in November. This includes a spot in the PS Plus library, a nice win for Sony in its ongoing competition with Xbox Game Pass. Teardown puts players in the role of a demolition expert/burglar who is tasked with an increasingly complex set of heists against some not-so-innocent victims. There are no ski masks or stick-up jobs here. Instead, players must smash, blast, and craft their way to victory.
One of the first things you’ll notice is Teardown’s chunky voxel style. While it has a Minecraft feel, don’t go in expecting a freeform build-a-thon. As its name suggests, Teardown is about destruction, not construction. And with the exception of literal bedrock, everything in this game can be destroyed with the right set of tools. If you jump into the sandbox mode, you can have a blast (pun intended) destroying things, but the campaign is the real star of the show.
The story centers on rehabilitating a near-defunct family demolition business. The narrative unfolds via emails, which are mostly mission assignments sprinkled in with some updates from your mom… awwww. Rather than opting for legit construction, you find a niche doing dirty work for a bunch of rich dudes and insurance companies. You can rest easy knowing these are crimes perpetrated against people who deserve what’s coming.
They’re also very fun crimes. Unlike standard video game heists, which typically focus more on the “armed” side of armed robbery, there is no attacking here. There are no NPCs in the game at all, just vacant, open levels that run the gamut from industrial warehouses and shopping malls to tropical islands and mansions. Your job is often to steal something and escape in less than a minute. How do you do this? By carving a path of destruction.
The gameplay loop often unfolds like this: your client wants you to steal a safe that has an alarm attached. Once you move the safe, you have 60 seconds to escape before security shows up. However, you have unlimited time to plan and construct (or destruct) an escape route. Is the safe on the second story of a building? Don’t waste time heading for the stairs, just smash a hole in the floor. Why lose precious seconds running outside to hop in a getaway car when you can drive it through the wall and park in the lobby instead?
As the campaign unfolds, the heists get more complex. Soon, you’re stealing multiple targets and coming up with increasingly creative escape routes. If you enjoyed the build-your-own-solution mechanics in Tears of the Kingdom, then you’ll be right at home in Teardown. It encourages your most reckless impulse. You think things like, “Well, I could get across that canal faster if I toppled the entire building and pushed it into the water with a bulldozer.” And you’ll be rewarded when it works. Rewards also come by way of money to upgrade the tools in your arsenal.
Teardown paces these elements perfectly. You must prove yourself with the sledgehammer and blowtorch before it hands over the C4. You’ll sink money into whichever tools you find the most useful (I’m a shotgun man myself) and start to develop your own playstyle and approach. Note: there are no checkpoints, so make use of that quicksave feature while playing.
Teardown can be frustrating because it subverts our ingrained video game “rules.” Early on, you’ll look for “the right way” to do something but come up short. On the verge of rage quitting, you’ll smash something out of sheer frustration and accidentally solve the problem. Thanks to some impeccable physics, smashing stuff never stops being fun. There are no animations here. Everything collapses in real-time according to whatever forces are at play. You can demolish a building ten times and it’ll behave differently each time.
This makes it fun to engage in a bit of extracurricular demolition, too. The only thing more fun than stealing a Ferrari from a mansion is stealing a Ferrari from the smoldering ruins of what used to be a mansion. Break stuff, steal stuff, and get away with it. What’s not to love?