Teardown is a destruction sandbox puzzle game that just hit 1.0 after 18 months in Early Access. You may know it from popular videos of places being destroyed by nukes or remember seeing early clips of its incredible physics-based destruction on Twitter. Teardown was a little light on variety when it first came to Early Access, but nowadays has a full singleplayer campaign and a very active modding scene.
Teardown is excellent both as a puzzle game and a sandbox toy. I've poured over 46 hours into it, and most of that time has been spent setting up elaborate heists in its campaign. Most missions ask you to quickly grab or destroy a set of objectives and escape in under a minute, but you're given unlimited time to destroy/alter the map with hammers, explosives, guns, and stretchy wires to create the fastest route possible before the clock starts running. It's a pretty unique way to add goals to a space that is otherwise only there for the joy of breaking stuff—and wow, breaking stuff never stops being fun in this game.
Below are some recent highlights from my favorite levels and goof-offs that hopefully communicate what makes Teardown so damn cool.
The racetrack side mission might be the best example of how Teardown subverts the rules of a traditional, unbreakable world. The goal is simple: sneak into a billionaire's mansion while he's not home, steal a car, and beat the lap times on his personal racetrack.
The main goal is to beat 30 seconds, which isn't too tough if you can put together a clean lap. The optional goal is to get all the way down to 20 seconds, which just feels impossible. I originally quit this mission because it's too hard, but then a friend reminded me that this is Teardown, and I can simply dismantle the track checkpoints to make the track shorter. 16 seconds, a new record.
I went a little wild on this heist. There are six tools to collect in one minute across one of the game's biggest maps. I had been running out of time just a few feet away from my escape boat, so I had to think of a way to cut down a few seconds without altering my planned route too much (and without resorting to using my modded Portal gun).
My solution: Construct a sled out of bits of wooden scrap that I can propel through the air using a supercharged leaf blower while I'm standing on it. The design went through a dozen iterations and ate up every plank in my inventory, but it finally worked.
The Building Launch
The other day I was messing around with an Ultra Gravity Gun mod that forcibly grabs anything in front of you and smushes it into a dense sphere. It's cool as hell. So I was liquifying an entire square block of houses (as you do) when I wondered if I could push an entire apartment complex with the power of gravity. It worked a little too well.
The Lighthouse Run
Finally beat a Teardown level this weekend that’d been eluding me. Over an hour of prep and a lot of aim practice for that lighthouse shot. pic.twitter.com/Fb1I43dsdsSeptember 27, 2021
OK, this one is just a really clean run that I still feel pretty good about. One way to do this mission is to blowtorch off the brackets holding these propane tanks in place, gather them up, and blow 'em up all at once to save time. I thought it'd be more fun to race across the map and hit every tank where it lives in less than a minute. It took a lot of setup and failed attempts, but I eventually got it with style points to spare.
Boat Too Slow
This last one is a shoutout to a mission type that I wish Teardown had more of: the untimed “bring these heavy objects to a place” missions. In this later-game one, you have to somehow transport two very heavy tank vehicle pieces to a truck, except they're sat on stranded rafts attached to boats in a narrow, frozen-over river. After struggling for 20 minutes to drive the first boat down the river, I decided to take a different approach with the second. Forget the boats, just crane it out of the river and somehow squeeze this honking truck through a tiny town.